“Never be ashamed of yourself. Be proud of who you are and don’t worry about how others see you.” – Kristen Butler

In today’s critical society, the lives of others are often measured and compared to “the norm”. So much so, that it comes down to the point of people actually being ashamed of how they live their life, or even who they live it with.

Whoever made you think that you had to give away your power of being a uniquely beautiful individual?

You do NOT have to be ashamed of your life, how you live it, or who you live it with. The most important part of life is that you are creating happiness in your own life as well as in the lives of others. You shouldn’t have to cover the life you live just because someone else may think or tell you that you shouldn’t, or don’t need to be living in that fashion.

Here are 12 things you should no longer be ashamed of:

1. Taking time for self-care

In a hectic world, getting lost in the hustle and bustle of doing things for others is easy. You can spend an entire day ensuring everyone you know is happy and well cared for.

But what about taking time for yourself?

Self-care, or more commonly referred to as “me time”, comes in many forms. You can go extreme and book a 5-night vacation to somewhere sandy and warm, or you can do something a little more subtle and treat yourself to your favorite meal, read your favorite book, or get a massage. Self-care is vital to well-being!

2. Showing or expressing your emotion

Feeling sad? Maybe a little angry? You could even be ecstatic! Whatever you’re feeling, please don’t be ashamed to express it. People who regularly use cognitive therapy to understand what they’re feeling become more competent in managing their emotions. As a result, they are less susceptible to manipulation and negative moods.

3. Who you spend time with

Not all your loved ones are family. Sometimes these people include your friends and romantic partners. In other words, you get to decide who you let into your life and who you spend most of your time with.

According to Jim Rohn’s law of averages, you’re most like the five people you spend most of your time with. If this is true, wouldn’t it be wise to proudly spend time with the people who you want to be around that will make you a better person?

4. What you do for work

In a society obsessed with what you do for a living and how much money you make, following your career aspirations can sometimes seem difficult. Just ask any liberal art college student how many times they’ve heard, “You’re getting a degree in that? What are you going to do? How are you going to pay your bills?”

When you’re constantly bombarded with attacks on your career choice, it’s easy to get discouraged. Always remember what drew you to a certain field in the first place, and why you feel that you’re positively contributing to the world through that career choice.

5. Forgiveness

Holding grudges is bad for your relationships and health. It can easily wrap you up in the past instead of the present, and produce a multitude of health issues.

Never be ashamed to forgive anyone. Forgiving is important to move forward in life. Sometimes people think forgiving means it makes it okay. That’s untrue. Forgiveness means you are allowing yourself to let go. You free yourself from the bondage, and in fact, receive more of a gift from it than those who you forgive!

6. Being hopeful

There’s a common saying that a person is made truly happy by three things: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for. The dreamers among us know all about hope and how common it is to have that hope challenged by people who tell you to “be realistic” and prepare for the worst.

But to those challengers, we say, “You may call me a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” Hopeful, positive thinking even has multiple health benefits including increased life span, lower levels of stress, and improves coping skills. So in difficult times, keep calm and hope on!

7. Positive thinking

Not every day may be a good day, but this doesn’t mean that you have to let life kick you while you’re down. It’s impossible to predict when a bad day is going to come around, but thinking positive throughout those bad days will make you more resilient next time you’re challenged with one. With this ever growing resilience, you’ll be cruising down the best possible path you can take with your life.

8. Being true to yourself

One of the biggest death bed regrets people express is not living a life true to themselves. It’s easy to get wrapped up in other people’s expectations for you and your life, but it will always boil down to what you want to do with your life.

Embracing your unique self and loving that self is one of the most courageous things you can do. Don’t worry about what others think. As that ridiculously catchy Bon Jovi song goes…it’s your life. It’s now or never.

9. Your past

Trials and tribulations ultimately create experience and wisdom. There are a lot of bumps along the road of life, especially in the first couple of decades. Don’t let those minor bumps turn into mountains. There will be moments that you wish you could do over, but the power of hindsight is that you learn from your past mistakes.

As time goes on, you’ll be able to make better, more informed decisions, allowing you to create a happier and healthier life.

10. Your natural self

In her wildly hilarious memoir, Bossypants, Tina Fey references a laundry list of beauty standards forced on women, including Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, small Japanese feet, the arms of Michelle Obama, and much more.

Men and women are both subjected to this kind of social standard, and can often become ashamed of how their body looks, based on what other people think about it. Even if you try every cutting edge surgery or serum, no one can be a perfectly sculpted specimen. Give those strict beauty standards a kick to the curb and embrace your natural state, while aiming to be the best version of you.

11. Your eating habits.

From animal protein lovers to vegans and beyond, people can be very sensitive about their food. Some people swear by their diets, while others jump from superfood to superfood trying to find their next nutritive fix.

Whatever you’re chowing down on, don’t let others discourage you from being consistent with your beliefs. Listen to your body. It will tell you exactly what food it needs, and if you ever get stuck on what to eat next, there are many resources available online to create a perfect meal plan for your individual needs

12. Doing your best

We all want to live happy, fulfilling lives. Doing so takes a conscious effort, a lot of energy, and sometimes even a lot of time. Striving to do your best is always admirable and should be revered, not frowned upon.

Anyone who tries to make you feel ashamed for striving may simply be ashamed of themselves for not striving to be their own optimal self

Step into the freedom of being your unique self. You can be free from living in shame, regardless of what anyone thinks. Know that you are positively impacting the world and that everything outside of that is strictly superficial. Shine ON!