I was having a conversation with a close friend of mine and he spoke to me about the power of self love. For a moment, I thought “Of course I love myself, I mean I look good, I’m smart kind of…”, then the storm clouds rolled in. All these negative thoughts of worthlessness and self hatred began to swirl around in my head. I noticed it sounds great and confident to say you love yourself. However, you have to be honest with yourself or risk hindering your personal growth.
Most of us never truly learn how to love ourselves. I poured all my love into others, never wasting a drop on myself. I wanted to feel loved so I gave all mine away, hoping for a return on my investment that never came. I want to love myself, but I do not want to be Narcissus and fall in love with my shallow, distorted reflection in a river. That’s not the self love I am referring to. I want to fall in love with every aspect of myself, even the not so groovy parts of me. I began to do some introspection and these are the two biggest problems I have unearthed.
First, a lot of my self doubt and hatred comes from comparison. The first comparisons I remember were of skin and hair. I lived in an almost completely white town, with the Eurocentric standards of beauty being strictly enforced. My friends, neighbors, dolls, cartoons, mailman, weatherman, mother, cousins, grandparents, all white. There became an imbalance of love because I was receiving hatred from within and from others. My family and friends tried to patch some of the holes in my ship, to keep me from drowning. It was ineffective because there were many holes only I could fix. The love I did receive from family and friends could never compensate because of the hatred I had already developed towards myself.
Second, when social media became a huge trend, I learned how to feel so good and so bad about myself at the same time. I would feel good when I posted a picture that would gain a lot of traction and attention. I would despise when I saw someone else getting more attention and love. I would begin comparing and trying to see how I could look and be more like them. I starved myself, I have tried to bleach my skin, I adjusted the filter to make my skin and eyes lighter, I relaxed my hair. I tried to conform. I still never felt good enough.
I realized all of these things were not going to change. I am who I am and I have to accept that. I began to accept my appearance but that was such a small superficial part of the battle. Next came the…
“I’m not as smart as her…”.
“I’m not as rich as her…”.
“I’m not as outgoing as her…”.
“Everyone really loves her…”.
This is the part I am still struggling with to this day. I will repeat a mantra to myself everyday about how it’s unrealistic to compare myself to others but still do it. I know people can make themselves whoever they want other’s to see them as. It’s called acting and we are all better at it than we think. We all follow that girl on Instagram who is never sad and is full of positivity and radiates sunshine. Her social media is full of smiles and amazing accomplishments, every picture seems flawless. “Why can’t I be like that?”, we ask. Little do you know, she gets beaten and cries herself to sleep almost every night. She puts that filter on to drown out the purple tinge from the bruise on her neck that she thought she had fully covered with make-up. We are visual creatures and believe what our eyes show us even if it is not real.
I sometimes say I love myself without fully comprehending what self love is. So what is self love?
It is being accepting of your mental, emotional and physical flaws.
It is understanding people’s actions are not a reflection of you, but of themselves.
It is putting yourself first.
It is making life decisions that are the most beneficial for you and not others.
It is realizing all you really have is yourself.
It is realizing perfectionism is not quantifiable or measurable. Therefore, it is not real.
We love people who we KNOW are not perfect. Why can’t we love ourselves when we know we are not perfect either? Treat yourself like you would treat someone you were in love with. Be kind, honest, loyal, loving, respectful and accepting of your flaws. Be as weird as you want, as loud as you want and as emotional as you want. Your life is your kingdom, before you do anything create a throne you will be comfortable sitting on. You are going to be there for awhile.