For twenty years, I was in a battle with myself — the battle to love myself.

It took me twenty long years to realize how important it is to come to terms with who I really am and to love that person whole heartedly. The more I started appreciating all my odd quirks and imperfections, the more free I felt.

You can cut toxic people out of your life, change your appearance or adopt new hobbies — but if you aren’t at peace with yourself and the person you are, none of those other things will ultimately make you feel happy.

Almost all of us have been unsatisfied with ourselves at some point in our lives, and that’s totally natural. Putting your foot down and actively changing the things you don’t like about yourself is one of the most important steps in becoming the best version of yourself that you can and want to be.

For the longest time I thought that if everyone else liked me then I’d like myself. I was wrong. Counting on the validation of others was one of the worst things I’ve wasted time on. The one and only person you need acceptance from is yourself.

The relationship I have with myself has been the most crazy, difficult, yet worthwhile relationship I’ve ever been in. If you can love yourself and appreciate how freaking awesome you really are and recognize how every little part of you adds up to create your own one-of-a-kind self, then you can do anything. Often, we are the toughest critics of ourselves, and overcoming that can make forming relationships and connections with others so much easier.

When you love yourself, so many other things in your life start to fall into place. Loving yourself lends confidence, self-worth, and the ability to chase your dreams and accomplish those goals you’ve set on the back burner. Don’t get me wrong; I’m still struggling with loving myself 100%, but I’m trying, and that’s all you can really do.

Truthfully, you can do anything you set your mind to. The sooner you start loving the person you are, the sooner you’ll have the courage to do everything you’ve been waiting to do.

Many of us value the connections we have with others over the one we have with ourselves. We spend twice as long worrying about others instead of focusing on the person who really matters: yourself. Just remember that none of us are perfect and we will always make mistakes.

The next time you’re near a mirror, look at yourself and notice all the great things you have to offer. Tell yourself how rad you are, and how much potential you have. Care for your mind and body and know that you have every ounce of strength to become the best version of yourself.

Start a crazy love affair with yourself and don’t look back.