Self-Acceptance 101: How I Learned To Be At Ease With Myself
One of the core beliefs driving Sunia K. Cosmétiques authentiques is that using our pure, precious cosmetic oils can help women to feel more at ease with themselves, especially if they’ve struggled with a skin disorder like psoriasis, acne or rosacea, to name a few. Why? Because when a woman's skin looks and feels wonderful, she’ll grow less self-conscious and feel she will be more free to relax and be her best self
To explore this idea further, we recently spoke with company founder Sonia K..about her journey. We met for coffee and French pastry at the quintessential Parisian tea room Ladurée on New York’s Upper East Side.
Q: It seems as if so many of us are confident as girls, then, as we become pre-teens and teens, we get bombarded by other people’s expectations and lose ourselves. Did that happen to you?
- Yes, definitely. And then when I became a wife and mother, I found myself in a stressful marriage and put everyone else’s needs first. That’s when my psoriasis flared up so badly [that] I was forced to start taking care of myself and discovered prickly pear seed oil which is one of the things that helped me.
A tree grows many branches to catch the light.
Q: How did you find your way out of all that stress to now feeling more ‘at ease’ with yourself? And why does that idea mean so much to you?
A: It meaningful because I’ve worked so hard to get to the place I’m in today, years later, which is, essentially, feeling much more ‘at home’ with who I am and where I’m going. And, in my experience, there’s no one way to get there: A tree doesn’t grow only one branch to catch the light; it grows as many branches as it needs.
- So, tell me about your branches.
- First, I do my best to take good care of my body, get enough sleep, and manage stress since that affects how I feel every day. Second, at least once a month, I make sure I go out and have fun with my friends. Third, I’ve worked to face my fears so I can have new adventures that build my confidence. And, fourth, I do my best to practice self-acceptance—no matter what.
Schedule fun and self-care into your life daily, weekly and monthly to ensure they happen.
Q: What do you do to take care of your body and manage stress?
A: I’m not an athlete, but I love to run. I try to keep a routine, sometimes 2-3 times a week; sometimes every day. I’ve tried many gyms, martial arts, and yoga, but whenever I come back to running, it makes me feel good.
I also get a massage, reflexology or facial every month. Even when I was in financial trouble, I've always found a way to do all these things.
I take care of my skin, hair and nails by applying Sabrah Oil before bed, in the morning, and during the day whenever I want to feel refreshed. Sometimes, I’ll mix a few drops with another oil like sweet almond or coconut to massage all over which feels wonderful.
Last, but not least, I practice farniente which translates to ‘without a care’ or ‘to do nothing’. Farniente is the lovely Italian custom of not doing anything besides enjoying oneself. On Saturdays, I take myself to a nice place like Ladurée to have a coffee or piece of cake, read a book by myself, stay in the park, watch the sunset, or walk in the street and watch people, just enjoying the moment. We did that in Tunisia where I grew up but I forgot about it once I moved away. I’m so happy to have gotten back to farniente amidst the craziness of life in New York.
Q: How do you balance work and taking care of your daughter with going out with friends?
A: When I was in my twenties, I loved partying and dancing with girlfriends. Now, I just schedule time with friends who are also mothers like me to go out to eat, dance and laugh once every three or four weeks. Even with more responsibilities and people to take care of, going out with them always makes me feel young and alive. Then, I can be a better mom the rest of the month because I feel renewed.
Also, caring about my friends and helping them to feel good about themselves, makes me feel good about myself in turn. It’s a different kind of dance, but just as important.
Being ‘at ease’ with yourself doesn’t mean lounging in your comfort zone.
Q: I was wondering if you could say more about facing your fears so you could have new adventures. Most people might think of being ‘at ease’ as looking for ways to feel more comfortable but if we just look for comfort, don’t we run the risk of falling into a rut and never trying anything new?
A: Yes! When I was younger, I was afraid of heights, but I also craved activities that gave me a rush of adrenaline. So, at a certain point, I learned to shut down my fear a bit so I could try things like horseback riding, then zip lining, and finally, skydiving. Now I’m getting my motorcycle license. I had to overcome all kinds of fears to leave my job to start a business, but facing my fears and stretching out my comfort zone has helped me feel more alive and better able to take on the next big challenge.
Your path may look nothing like the ones your friends or family have traveled.
Q: You said you practice self-acceptance—no matter what. What does that mean to you?
A: This is the hardest practice for most of us. As much as I’ve internalized critical voices in the past, I’ve had to learn to pay less attention to them and then learn to accept each of the many different facets of who I am.
I’ve learned to accept my femininity and sensuality. I don’t care how people look at me. I dress as I like, whether clothes cover my psoriasis or not. Most importantly, I’ve decided to live my life not as other people want me to be, but as I want to be. From that decision came my divorce, starting out on my own, and moving from Montreal to New York with my current partner who is different from me in many ways but still my soul mate.
- Do you ever have bad days when you doubt yourself and what you’re doing?
- I don’t think I’d be human if I didn’t. But what drives me 1000% to keep getting up every day and working on myself and my business, is my daughter. She’ll learn more from seeing me persist and do my best to live an enjoyable, meaningful life than from anything I tell her.
Find more ways to be good to yourself, whether that’s investing money, energy or time.
Q: What would you say to a girl or woman who is the beginning of the journey toward being truly at ease with herself?
A: I’d tell her: Find ways to be good to yourself, whether that’s investing money, energy or time or all those things. Realize that each of our paths is different: yours may look nothing like the ones your friends or family have traveled. And when you think about your choices all day, why not choose a kind thought about yourself over a harsh one? Given our circumstances, we all should try to do our best at every moment.
Q: Your suggestion to think kindly about ourselves is so helpful but may be the most difficult for women today.
A: If you had a sweet little baby in your arms, would you scold her all the time? Of course not. You still have that sweet little baby inside you, needing love. Take care of her.