How often have we looked into the mirror and hated what we’ve seen? You’re in the bathroom, washing your hands at the sink, and you raise your head. You see your face and judgments pour out of you. Somehow your eyes manage to land on every little flaw–every imperfection that you hate. You try your best to fix them, but to no avail. How do you hide that acne, change the shape of your eyes, cover up that eczema? So instead you leave it there, and walk out the bathroom with a slightly more dejected aura than when you entered.

This week, I challenged myself to look in the mirror and instead notice one good thing about myself each time. I was going to compliment myself, something many of us rarely do. Though simple, I believed this task would allow me to truly appreciate myself and not let negative thoughts and lies prevent me from being happy.

Day One: This is going to work. Let’s see… your eyes are pretty? This idea is actually ridiculous. I don’t feel pretty. I’m just lying to myself.

Day Two: I can’t find anything specific to compliment, but I’m supposed to think nice thoughts, so… you’re pretty, I guess.

Day Three: Damnit. This isn’t that simple actually. My acne is really bad today. But I guess, ignoring that fact, you don’t look too bad. From far away, you can’t see the acne.

Day Four: Let’s just continue on with this challenge and not overthink this. You’re pretty.

Day Five: You’re pretty?

Day Six: You’re pretty.

Day Seven: You’re pretty, and I think I’m actually beginning to believe it.

By the seventh day, it had already begun to become second nature to me. I would look in the mirror and without having to think about my Tried and Tested challenge, the thought, you are pretty would pop into my head. And when it did, I would be able to smile to myself and feel confident. Afterwards, I would be able to walk out the bathroom door with my head held high ready to confront the world with enthusiasm. I would have the assertiveness to hang out with friends more often, speak up in class discussions, and walk through campus with attentiveness, appreciating the little things around me.

Throughout this challenge, I experienced doubts and negativity. But I learned that thoughts have a powerful grip on us. If you choose to dwell on negative thoughts, then you will gradually become more and more depressed and indifferent about the amazing experiences happening around you. But if you simply make the conscious effort to think positive thoughts about yourself–which can be as simple as one line–whether that’s your seemingly unimportant achievements, lifestyle, or physical appearance, you will then have the mental energy to make the most of your college life, enjoying unforgettable experiences with friends and making unforgettable memories. Cut yourself free from the negativity, appreciate yourself, and enjoy the life you so often take for granted.

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