​I think self-love is one of the strongest types of armor you’ll ever need. It protects you in an emotional battle. It helps you recover from depression, anxieties, addictions, and demons; without self-love, it’s almost impossible to go up against opposition. However, it’s also important to realize that it is unrealistic to always expect to be able to give 100 percent with every relationship, including the one you have with yourself.

There will be days that you will only be able to give ten percent, five, or maybe even one. You will see others’ post online about loving themselves and you will see status updates and Tweets on social media about how well they take care of themselves -- how much they put themselves first. You will frequently see the sunny sides of others’ lives, and that might make you feel as though you are standing in a never-fading shadow. You may feel inadequate at times. On the days where loving yourself is the hardest and comparison is the most difficult thing to fight, it may make you feel as if you have failed. Just remember that nobody loves themselves one hundred percent of the time and nobody gives themselves the proper effort they deserve all of the time, just like it is impossible to give one hundred percent effort and love constantly in relationships with others.

There are days when I can give myself one hundred percent love and effort. I take care of myself both physically and emotionally. I give myself enough time for sleep, I drink enough water and I eat enough. I talk through my issues, I remind the people who I care about that I love them, and I might even possibly brush my hair (debatable). There are days when I struggle to give myself five percent. I sleep all day or don’t sleep at all, I overeat or eat too little, and I forget that water is something that you drink separately from alcohol. I push people away or lash out irrationally. I look in the mirror and I don’t understand the girl staring back at me.

Model: Kerry Carmody | Photographer: Joseph Caden | Instagram: @josephcaden

There are days when I am the best friend, the best girlfriend, the best sister or the best daughter you could ask for. I show up when I’m needed, and I answer texts or calls that are important almost immediately. I am supportive, I am honest and I am loving. In contrast, there are days when I am not those things. I find myself giving into my anxiety, whether I forget to take my medication or not, it doesn’t work as effectively. I blow off plans; I don’t answer my phone, I forget that other people have problems just as hard to deal with (or even harder) than my own.

I admit my flaws. I looked straight into the eyes of my demons without so much as a blink. I often find myself loving and giving effort with everything I have or absolutely nothing at all. I can admit there are days when I start off strong and end pretty weak or vice versa. It can be confusing to understand, from both an outside perspective and for me to comprehend for myself.

As I grow as a person, I work on myself and my relationship with others. I hope that the number of days where I can only give ten or five percent love and effort shrink. I also want to remind myself, and anyone else who needs to be reminded, that it is okay if you cannot always give your all, whether it is to yourself or to other people in your life. It is human, normal, and sometimes necessary. If you are incredibly lucky (as I often find out that I am) you will see that other people in your life who know you, who care about you and love you, will pick up on your emotional signals. They will be able to sense when you are unable to give your all, without having to explain. They will give you extra effort and love when you are unable to give it to yourself. A little extra effort and love can mean the world to others in the same position as yourself.

Model: Kerry Carmody | Photographer: Makayla Sullivan | Instagram: @makaylarosephoto

Sometimes it may feel like self-love is ‘unreal’ or always apparent by the way you see it portrayed on social media, in articles, in books, or in movies, but the truth is that there is no exact definition of self-love because it is personal for everyone. There are times when I have felt like I was being fake or lying when I have said that I want to love myself. I still struggle to take care of myself the way I know that I should. The truth is that there is no scale to weigh self-love, except for one that you must learn to build for yourself.

​As you figure out who you are, you find your own measuring tools and you learn that loving yourself means accepting the days when you cannot love yourself as loudly, and accepting the days when the effort you normally give yourself may be weaker or less vibrant.

There are some mornings when it is easy for me to get out of bed, it is easy to eat breakfast, and it is easy to smile as I go about my day. There are some days it is impossible, but there are also a lot of days when it is really hard. Regardless, I get up and face the day anyway. Those days might suck and feel a lot longer, even though they are made up of the same 24 hours as every other day. They make me proud, strong and confident because even though I might feel like I can only give five percent, I wake myself up and pull myself out of the fog that I was trapped in. I still might not be able to give 100 percent, but it is proof that dedication is the key to life, whereas motivation is not always reliable.

Model: Kerry Carmody | Photographer: Kerry Carmody

Life is not zero or one hundred, effort does not have to be all or nothing, love will never be black or white. It isn't a case of loving yourself constantly with every atom of your being; self-doubt is inevitable. Love yourself, do the best that you can each and every day, and be kinder to yourself. If the effort you give yourself and others isn’t as strong today as it was yesterday, it doesn’t mean it is not valid or something to be proud of.

Love and put as much effort into yourself, into your relationships, and into your life as much as you possibly can, but do not feel like growth in these areas has to be linear. In fact, it often isn’t, but admitting and accepting this doesn’t mean your effort is worthless, or your love is inadequate. It means that you are honest.

Written by Kerry Carmody

Kerry Carmody is a writer who spends all of her free time on the beach. She gets her inspiration from real-life problems and people, as well as, her take on the world around her.

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