No Love Lost: Finding Self-Love through Silencing the Inner Critic 

 In Voices of Young People

In honor of February, the month of love, we asked members of our Springtide Ambassadors Program (SAP) to share how they’ve made personal strides toward greater self-love or self-care. For some, replacing an internal stream of negative messages with more positive self-talk boosted how they viewed themselves. Below, SAP members Brendan, Mya, and Serafeim discuss how shifting their inner monologue resulted in external change.

Standing on a stage, blinded by lights, adrenaline rushing, skin covered in a thin film of sweat. 

As uncomfortable as it sounds, there is not a more liberating feeling I have found in this life.  

However, to reach a point where you are ready to create art for an audience, there is always a need to evaluate and critique your craft. What my grandma would find profound and flawless, I would deem hardly worth presenting to anyone. Every flaw, incorrect note, breathing mistake, miscalculated line delivery, or any minor mistake feels magnified to a cataclysmic size when lights and several hundred eyes are directed at you.  

Once in a production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, I forgot half of a monologue I was supposed to deliver on how characters Bob Wallace and Phil Davis had warmed my heart that holiday season. The consequence of this flub resulted in both actors rushing through a costume change backstage, and I waved for them to come out from behind a curtain while still half-dressed. The two decided not to step into the spotlight while still in boxer briefs, so I found myself in a nightmare scenario: I had to make up lines to buy my friends more time, and nothing was coming to mind. The performance moved into the finale, and it was clear that the audience couldn’t tell anything had gone awry. The critic within me, however, was beyond furious. I couldn’t sleep that night. I refused to speak to any of my friends, and I felt nauseous taking any compliments or congratulations for my performance. I was sure that my reputation amongst my peers would never recover, and that I would not be cast in another production anytime soon.  

It has been two years since that incident now, and I can say in full confidence that it was one of my largest learning opportunities. When I found myself locked in a downward spiral of shame at the time, I’m glad I ended up finding a path toward forgiveness and self-love. I learned to resist lingering on mistakes and replaying embarrassing moments, instead focusing on how I could grow from the experience. Instead of viewing my perceived flaws as shortcomings, I started seeing them as unique brushstrokes on the canvas of my identity.



Springtide Ambassador (22 – Nebraska)

Self-love is something that I strongly believe everyone deserves to have. In the world we live in today, it can be very difficult at times to have self-love for many reasons. I’ve grappled a lot with self-love. As I’ve gotten older and have faced new obstacles, road bumps, people, places, challenges, and opportunities, my struggles with self-love have remained. However, my mindset has recently shifted. 

My Dad has never gone a single day without reminding me that he believes in me. I’ve always heard him and appreciated his reminders, but I used to disagree with him. I didn’t believe in myself. It wasn’t until this past summer as I was having a heart-to-heart conversation with him that he said, “Nobody can believe in you until you believe in you.” That comment of his stuck with me. I later realized that I need to control what I can control. I learned that I have the power to control what I tell myself. I learned that I have the power to believe in myself. I learned that I have the control to decide what I want my life to be. And most importantly, I learned that I can control the love that I have for myself.

This is how I control my self-love: 

  • I surround myself with others who love and appreciate me.
  • I acknowledge my successes. 
  • I see past my challenges and focus on what I can control in them. 
  • I am mindful of how I talk to myself. 
  • I make it a priority to do at least one thing for myself a day. 
  • I remind myself that the love I have for myself is above all.
  • I write myself notes.
  • I am mindful of my emotions, and I allow myself to express them and understand the importance of doing so.

You are so loved—believe in that.



Springtide Ambassador (17 – Minnesota)

Self-care holds many complexities for me; it’s an idea that I have always battled. 

Being a child of immigrants and refugees, self-care is often overlooked—a perpetual spotlight is shone on drive, work, and success. Our family often reminds us of the sacrifices and relentless dedication they put in for us to possess the opportunities before us, which for previous generations were merely a dream. It is crucial to understand and respect our family’s sacrifices and dedicated work, yet I believe this respect should not come at the cost of our self-care. It took me many years to grasp the notion that self-care is not at odds with our success; rather, it is a vital part of it. 

Every time I prioritized self-care over work, a voice guilted me, flooding my mind with the stories I was told of my family’s toil and sacrifice. This voice, grounded in legacy, is not to be rejected. It is the voice that guides our identity and bonds us together regardless of our family’s origins. This voice is the source of my drive, motivating me to rise from my bed and move toward success. Nevertheless, there are moments in which it is necessary to quiet this guilt to create space for self-care and mental wellness. You are allowed a break. Two things can be true at once—you can honor your family’s legacy and nurture your mental health. 

For me, my self-care starts with quieting my voice of guilt. Then, my instinct is to pick up  
my phone and doomscroll—sometimes that is needed, but when emphasizing mental  
wellness, the phone is not the answer. The Americanized “normal” view of life that social media  
presents can make me feel isolated, as frequently my life is far from “normal.” A big part of my  
self-care lies in practicing my culture through music, cooking, baking, dancing, etc. When  
celebrating my heritage, I feel the power of my culture, I build my strength, and I unite myself  
with my community. Through my authentic embrace of my heritage, I honor my culture while nurturing my mental wellness at the same time. 



Springtide Ambassador (17 – Minnesota)

My external achievements have often attracted love and attention from my friends and family around me. However, my journey towards greater self-love was one I went through internally, completely transforming the way I viewed my worth. It was a journey filled with moments of self discovery and hardships, one that will impact my life forever.

I’ve gone through my fair share of difficult stages in life, but this turning point toward self-love was stimulated by a particularly challenging point in my life. While I had been aware of the concept of “self-love” for quite some time, I never bothered to take time and really understand how this looked in action. My lack of understanding fueled underlying thoughts, where I told myself that self-love was neither necessary nor important. Yet, in December 2022, everything felt different. Finals were coming up and I felt the pressure of my grades gradually increasing. I also had an important sports tournament coming up in which I had to perform my best — no matter how hard I practiced, I always felt like I was underperforming. As each day passed on, my stress mounted and eventually my interaction with both my friends and family diminished. For two weeks straight, my sleeping and eating habits were completely messed up. Finally, I was able to reach winter break, a time I thought would put me back into the right mental state. However, I found out that it was not that easy! It was three days into my break, and I still didn’t feel like going out, eating much, or being productive in general. I wasn’t under as much stress, yet I still felt the same I had during the previous few weeks.

As I took time to reflect on what I could do to change this, I decided to develop a routine of practices that could catapult me out of my depressive state. I focused on doing things that would energize me physically and boost me mentally. This was the first time I truly dedicated myself to practicing self-love, and it made a huge difference. In just a matter of days, I could see myself already recovering from the stress I had endured; I felt even better than I had before. I found out how powerful self-love could really be. From that point onwards, whether I’ve endured a tough time or not, I always make sure to create some time to take care of myself,

Here are some of the practices that are most important to me:

Sleep: Despite how busy my day is, I have learned that establishing a consistent sleep routine is non-negotiable. Getting a few extra hours of sleep makes a huge difference in the way I can be ready for my busy day.

Deep Breathing: Deep breathing has become my daily ritual, allowing for a period of calmness, free of all anxiety. Whether it’s just a one-minute break or for an extended period of time, this practice is my anchor in the chaos of student life.

Exercise: Exercise is not just a physical activity for me; it’s a holistic practice that rejuvenates my body and mind. Whether it is going to the gym, playing team sports with my friends, or just going for a brisk walk and enjoying nature, exercise always boosts my mood with an endorphin rush.

As I reflect on this journey, I’ve come to realize that self-love is an ongoing process—one that requires patience, dedication, and commitment. In sharing my story, I hope to inspire others to embark on their own journeys toward self-love. 



Springtide Ambassador (15 – California)

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