“Learning how to love me, celebrating the woman I’ve become.” –Private Party by India Arie
What the hell is self-love and why is it so important?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines self-love as, “an appreciation of one’s own worth or virtue.” People express their love of self in many ways. This is not to be confused with being self-absorbed, vanity, or narcissism. Self-love is not selfish. Loving yourself for who you truly are is a necessity for a healthy life.
I do not know if it is something in the air or if I am simply in the next stage of my life where self-love has become one of my biggest priorities. I have mentioned before that this past birthday has opened my eyes and I am starting to realize this was my first epiphany. I have been through a lot in my twenty-three years on earth and it’s been an interesting journey to say the least. I am thankful to still be here, living, and thriving, instead of just surviving.
I have always loved myself, but not the way I am practicing now. I loved myself enough in the past only to keep surviving. When you truly love yourself, you want to thrive, and I know now that I truly want to thrive with my whole heart. This means I must be the best version of myself that I can be.
I define who I am not outside forces. My worth is not my followers on social media, money in the bank, a job, or a man. My love for self comes from within, a drive that has turned into a great desire for one long fulfilling life. Throughout life we are each committed to finding our self, really getting to know who we are, and loving it.
Self-love has never been so important to me as it is now. This year I made a promise to myself to work smarter and not harder when it comes to loving every part of me. The question that comes up often in reflection is: If you do not love yourself how can you expect others to?
We as a people need love, we want it, and we even seek it sometimes without even realizing the love that already lives inside of us. The love inside is the most important because it’s like a puzzle piece. Imagine a heart necklace one half is the love of self and the other is the love from others (think family, friends, and significant other). Therefore, when one is missing the other half suffers because it is incomplete.
This visual comes heavily into play for me because I realized in this last year I had drifted away from my development. I had got off track and focused on my relationships with people along with other distractions more than my care for self. This life we live is temporary. I live with this in mind much more now with the losses I have faced this last year.
Death is inevitable, but life is a gift. I have started to use my gift by cutting so many draining things out. This is what you would truly call a diet. No, not just a food diet, but a real-life diet. This was indeed about eating healthier and cleaner, but also about cleansing my energy.
I had to let go of the negative forces that were clouding my judgment. I started asking myself questions more, self-validating my thoughts and feelings. I had people who were zapping my energy, trying to project their lack of confidence and self-esteem on me. I had to make tough choices for the sake of my continued progress towards elevation.
If you cannot be real with yourself, you won’t be real with others. I had been on autopilot, a sea of denial, and mountain top of despair from academic burn out, losing two family members, amongst other life issues that only prayer with a fair amount of strength could pull me out of. The storm brought on a wave of clarity as I fought and continue to fight against life’s pressures. It’s important to remember if you’re living there is nothing you cannot bounce back from.
The newfound optimism I have for life is from cleansing my mindset. I have been watching how I think and talk to myself. I had to factor in how my pessimistic thoughts over the years have been toxic to my ability to move forward. I focus on a lot of affirmations of love and success from what will happen rather than what I fear will happen.
I have now chosen to be happy. The path can be a roller coaster because as we know life can have its ups and downs, but you are overall in charge of your happiness. When life gets me down, I allow myself to feel it, but no longer wallow. Every day I wake up it’s another day, another chance to hit the ground running.
I love myself enough to not entertain the should of, would have, could have longer than necessary anymore. I am simply focusing on what I can change and make happen while living in the present. I no longer hold on to my past in such a way that I am stuck living in it. I look forward to each day being another chance at bettering my life.
I always say, treat yourself don’t cheat yourself. This does not just apply to buying yourself nice things but treating yourself well. Self-love and self-care go hand in hand like peanut butter with jelly. Self-care is managing your well-being physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to make sure you are in tune with yourself.
Self-care has become more important to me since I graduated in June because I was in such a weird space. I was burnt out from years of hard work, studying, and pulling all nighters for academic success. I had also lost my uncle in March and still hadn’t properly grieved, but instead pushed myself deeper into my studies. Graduation freed up my time to really sit with myself and take care of my needs because college had me living on autopilot.
Sitting with myself helped me put things into perspective. I was not taking care of me properly, so there was no way I was going to flourish if I did not put me first. Life could not just be about making money and education. I had to get my priorities straight because I was not even where I wanted to be creatively.
I started by taking accountability, taking control, and being understanding with myself. I had to give myself grace. I had not been patient; I was rushing to an imaginary finish line of some sort when there is no competition in life. We all have our own timelines and should only be in competition with ourselves to be better than who we were yesterday.
Once I realized that everything else started to fall into place. I could look in the mirror with less of a critique and appreciate the beauty that is there and even what is inside. I had been at war with self for so long, I had taken me for granted, when my life is priceless.
I am slowly, but surely making my way into loving myself completely. Right now, I am taking my time and “dating” myself, figuring out what Journey likes and does not like. That is what is most important. We cannot lose ourselves to the desires of the world.
Every day it is a process, but I am glad to be on the journey to finding myself. I am taking my time. I have fallen back in love with my craft, started reading the bible more, dressing myself up, and taking myself out. I do not remember the last time I felt this good, but what I can say is I am enjoying every bit of it.
I am indulging in so many great things, stopping to smell the flowers, and smiling every step of the way. I have a new lease on life. I have got my second wind now and I am not limiting myself anymore. I am doing things I used to fear, learning new things, and living without regret.
We are all capable of loving ourselves the right way. Handle you with care and extend yourself the same grace you give others. Self-love is important because it helps you to be healthy all around, while making great choices for the fulfilling life you want to live. You are building your own character so to speak, so who do you want to be?