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12 Things No Woman Should Ever Feel Bad About

Go out and get what you deserve, girl.

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1. Being the one to make decisions about your body.

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Your body, and therefore every choice you make relating to it, is yours. Whether you favour hair removal, decide to take the pill or rely on other contraceptive methods, take medication for physical or mental health, cover your face in make-up or don't wear a scrap, as well as the food you eat, the exercise you do, and every single decision relating to your uterus, it is all solely down to you. Don't let anyone else tell you anything otherwise.

2. Sex

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A friend of mine recently told me that after turning down a guy's offer to go back to his place and have sex with him after their first date, he got irritated and called her "boring." I don't know what annoyed me more - the fact he'd gone on a date with the belief that it was his god-given right to have sex at the end of it, or making her feel guilty for saying no.

It seems we just can't win, because if you want to have, or god forbid, enjoy sex, you're judged for that too. I remember telling an ex about one particular hook-up I'd had during uni, and his response was: "Wow, that's not classy." I wanted the ground to swallow me up, and I made a mental note to never mention the story to anyone ever again.

Reflecting on it now, I wish I'd told him I didn't give a single fuck about his judgement, because it's no longer 1952. If a woman wants to have sex and enjoys the experience, or decides she just isn't feeling it and says no, then it's her prerogative. And if she turns down someone who's made her feel uncomfortable or walks away from slut-shaming, let's face it: It's really not her loss.

3. Being selective about friends

Instagram: @yourbeautifullife

I think it's true that the older we get, the smaller our friendship groups become, and finding out who you can really rely on can be an emotional process.

When I went through my last breakup, my friends rallied around like never before. They helped fill my time, cancelled plans in order to see me, offered to collect my possessions from my ex's flat, and drove over to be with me on the first night I was unexpectedly alone after the split.

Other people weren't there for me in the way I'd hoped. They're still in my life, just to a lesser degree.

But then there have been the people who, over the years I've drifted apart from, because our lives and priorities have changed. There have been others who I've consciously cut contact with, and been happier for it.

Friendships should fill you with positivity. They're also a two-way street, and it takes both of you to make an effort. So don't feel bad for getting on with your life without those who aren't making that effort.

4. Your body changing

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When I look back at photos of me aged 17 (I'm convinced that's when I peaked, FYI) I think I looked quite good. But then I remember how I felt back then. I believed my body wasn't up to scratch, I compared myself with other girls, and I never felt completely confident in my own skin.

The two periods in my life when I was seriously underweight were characterised by depression and loneliness. There is no amount of great skinny jeans you could fit me into that'd make me swap my current body for how I looked back then. I was exhausted, felt faint all the time, and was dead behind the eyes.

I'm now at a point where medication and my body's refusal to accept takeaways and pasta like it did in the past have caused it to change. And I know it'll probably continue to change.

Whether you've shed weight since your teenage years, or found yourself gaining it, or one part of your body has just begun to look different (shout out to my boobs which weren't a thing until about two years ago,) everyone is critical of themselves.

But it's time we stopped feeling bad and gave ourselves a break. There's not one woman on the planet who looks at herself and likes everything she sees. But what you see is YOU. And YOU (yes, flaws and imperfections included) are beautiful.

5. Asking for a raise or promotion

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Ever since childhood, we're generally not encouraged or even given the opportunity to speak our minds. If we do speak up, whether it's in the playground or in the workplace, we're often left with the label "bossy" and "unlikeable." Whereas men are respected for being ambitious and confident at work, it's not the same for women. As a result, we often end up putting ourselves down and minimising our ambitions.

Often we'll take a backseat or not speak our minds for fear of appearing "too assertive." Sometimes men will repeat our ideas and claim them as their own. Other times, they'll straight-up talk over us. And, unlike men, we often lower our salary expectations because we're worried we won't get the job, or in pay reviews fail to ask for what we think we deserve because we don't want to be seen as greedy.

We have to stop reducing our potential, start recognising our professional achievements, and begin asking for what we truly believe we're worth - because I can bet it's a whole lot more than we're currently giving ourselves credit for.

6. Not being ~OK~ all of the time.

It may be a cliché, but we all have days where we just want to curl up, make a duvet fort, eat chocolate, watch something trashy on TV, and not face the world. Sometimes there's a tangible reason for why you're feeling down, other days you can't put your finger on it. On those days, it's important to be kind to yourself. Get through the hours where you have to communicate with other humans, but if you feel that all you want to do is cancel your evening plans, crawl home, sack off the healthy eating, have a bath, and find something comforting to watch on Netflix, then you're allowed to.

And, you know what? It's all right to cry too. Don't dismiss your emotions on the basis that you don't have anything to be upset over, or that other people have it worse. Everything is relative, and you're allowed to have moments where you just feel emotional. Go to bed in the knowledge that tomorrow is a brand-new day.

7. Not being in a relationship.

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There's a certain pressure to be in a relationship in your twenties. People start partnering off and it can leave you feeling lonely.

But relationships don't eradicate loneliness. Take it from someone who spent a lot of a past relationship feeling alone – it's hard to feel part of a team when one half doesn't want to be there. During our last holiday together my heart pounded with anxiety just knowing something wasn't right. Three days after returning, he ended it.

I dedicated the next six months to making myself feel good again. It's better to be single, working on who you are, creating your own happiness than it is seeking a relationship that causes anxiety, breaks you, and leaves you right back where you started.

It's like that game you played as a kid, with the different-shaped holes that you'd put coloured blocks through. There's no use trying to ram a circle into the rectangular space any more than there is trying to force some form of relationship that just isn't ever going to work.

Watching my friends experience the shittiest situations imaginable as a result of dating apps has made me believe more than ever that we all deserve so much more than being someone's booty call, or being stood up, or ghosted. So whether it's deciding to remain single, or ending a relationship that just isn't right, there's absolutely no shame in deciding that for now, you're better off spending time alone.

8. Comparing yourself with other women

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It's very easy to find yourself comparing yourself with the women around you, as well as those you don't know on social media. But unless you're speaking to a select few people who are completely honest with you about their lives, it's unlikely you're comparing yourself with reality.

There's a phrase: "Don't compare your behind the scenes with someone else's highlights reel," and it couldn't be more true. You don't see the moments behind closed doors that actually make up real life – the colleague who seems to have a perfect relationship in a screaming match with her boyfriend, the friend who jokes about always being skint, but really does struggle to make ends meet each month. The moments where we stand, picking ourselves apart in front the mirror, the times we've cried over heartbreak or work, or questioned just where the hell our lives are going. Those are the real-life moments that aren't spoken about openly. And they're certainly not captured, filtered, and sent out onto Instagram either.

Comparing ourselves with other people is an inevitable part of life, but it shouldn't make you feel bad about your own. Because when you're wondering why you don't quite compare with another woman, it's likely she's had the exact same thought about you.

9. Being confident

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We often suppress our confidence for a multitude of reasons, often because we're concerned about how other people perceive us. But sometimes it's important to disregard the opinions of other people.

If you want to say no to a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable, say no. If you feel you have achieved something noteworthy at work, tell your boss. If you're feeling your look, take that selfie. Whatever your size or shape, wear any outfit you desire. Who cares what anyone else thinks. You're amazing, so be proud of who you are.

10. Making decisions about your body and future based on what you want.

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Every now and again, a report will come around, saying something along the lines of women needing to think about starting a family before the age of 30 for fertility reasons, and it'll scare the living daylights out of you.

It's like that scene in Friends, where Rachel turns 30 and freaks out that in order to fulfil her ~life plan~ of being settled with a baby by the age of 35, she'd have to marry the guy she was with right now. And she had no plans to settle down with Tag. Feeling pressured to plan out your life this way when we're already juggling so much feels like a huge pressure that is both stressful and unrealistic.

We all know that decisions about our bodies and the future will involve a lot of time and thought. But whether you want to prioritise family over your career, or feel that professional goals are more important than babies, or know that you want a family but haven't met the right person yet, or you just LITERALLY DON'T HAVE A CLUE, it's OK.

The decision is yours and yours alone, and you can make it in your own time based on your life, your body, and your choices.

11. Past relationships.

Instagram: @yourbeautifullife

There are two relationships from my past that I wish I could go back and change. I wish I could go back in time to when I was 16 and save myself from being physically used and emotionally manipulated for two years. I wish I could pick up that young girl who was standing in the bus stop in the rain, having been left, freezing in the same clothes as the night before, by the same person who couldn't wait to get her into his bedroom the previous night.

And I also wish I could go back and tell the 23-year-old me to leave and not look back after she read the words in a message from her boyfriend to his best friend: "I don't love her or anything. Probably should by now if it's going to work out."

For a long time I berated myself for being weak, pathetic, and stupid for not walking away sooner, and even more stupid for holding on to the pain those relationships evoked.

But now I won't feel bad for having flashbacks to those traumatic memories I experienced aged 16, because I was young, heartbroken, and manipulated by the best liar I've ever met. Those situations have played a big part in me becoming the person I am. Some of their effects aren't positive, but they're a part of me regardless.

Many of us have felt bad about falling for the wrong person, or not leaving a relationship sooner, or feeling ashamed that we've been left by someone we loved. But being defined by shame or decisions made by other people is no way to live. It may be hard to see light at the end of the tunnel when you're in a bad relationship, or experiencing heartbreak, or still reliving the past. But you will learn to laugh again. There will be days when those negative emotions are completely overshadowed by happiness.

Take it from someone who's come out the other side.

12. Not having everything ~together~

Instagram: @yourbeautifullife

Life can sometimes feel so overwhelmingly full of expectations – from progressing your career, to having relationships, saving money, and spending time with friends and family on top of reserving the occasional five minutes for yourself.

It's natural to feel overwhelmed and slightly freaked out at being considered a ~grown-up~ because chances are, you don't feel like one. I don't know if you ever really do. Feeling as though there are elements of your life that are slightly up in the air is entirely human and it's nothing to be ashamed of.

But take a moment to look around and acknowledge what you have achieved. Most of us have managed to find jobs in a post-recession world. Maybe you've managed to buy a home, or are surrounded by the friends you've worked hard to nurture. Maybe you've found the love of your life, or have the job you've always dreamed of. Maybe you've achieved something personal, that only you understand the importance of.

Whatever it is, when you actually take time to think about it, you'll probably find that you're a lot more together than you thought. Give yourself some credit girl, and keep moving forward.

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