When did we become afraid to love ourselves?
I am often called a narcissist, frequently in jest. But even jokes carry some truth to them. Why does my love for myself somehow threaten others? There’s a fine line between self-love and narcissism. Loving myself doesn’t mean I think I’m better than others. I can love myself and also possess the ability to love and appreciate others.
Finding that space of self-love took me some time. I escaped people who made me feel like I wasn’t enough, who made me feel like I never could be, who made me feel as if I didn’t have that something that made me special. But I am special, and I am special because I am me.
I realized that there was no point in putting myself down because no matter what, there would be something for others to criticize. If I lived my life to the beat of society’s drum, how would I ever find myself? Everything felt like it was on the chopping block: if you wear too much pink, you are too feminine, too girly. If you wear too much black, you’re trying too hard to be edgy. If you like sports or video games, you’re trying too hard to fit in with the boys. No matter what we do, there will always be someone ready to criticize.
The best armor I’ve ever had was loving myself. You cannot say anything to me if I already know who I am, especially if I already love the person I am and the person I’m constantly evolving into. Self-love is a process. It doesn’t start or end at ‘I think I am pretty.’ You need to able to believe in yourself. Believe in your actions and your decisions. It’s not about physical exterior love if you carry doubt on the inside.
My journey started when I decided to say something nice about myself every time I looked in the mirror. I stopped using the words ‘fat’ and ‘ugly.’ I told myself I deserved more, so I strove for it. I told myself the sky is the limit – that I am a product of my own work and my dedication. And I forced myself to go after the things I wanted. If you tell yourself something enough times, you start to believe it. After a while, all the compliments I gave myself started to feel like truths. My smile is beautiful. My laugh isn’t ugly; it’s a real, pure show of my joy. I told myself my hardships did not define me as a person, and I was not beholden to them. I am allowed to love myself even when I am unhappy about whatever is happening in my life. At the end of the day the only person who truly has my back is me, and if I can’t even have faith in myself, how will I thrive?