A friend sent me a link to a post, which I can’t find again now but will try to link to later, with an idea for giving friends the gift of self-love. Because I haven’t given all of my girlfriends the gift yet and I can’t find the link to give credit to the person who originally blogged about it, I’ll save sharing the idea for another time, but I will say that the idea spoke to me as if had been meant just for me. Self-love has been a topic I’ve been reflecting on during the last couple of months. In fact, as I reflect on 2013, it’s been a prevalent topic throughout this whole year. Not because I’ve made it a priority, but because I haven’t.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I put everyone else’s needs above mine. At least, that’s not the main reason. It’s simply because I’ve become a bit lackadaisical about everything. I accepted not feeling well as a way of life. I stopped being busy living, because I got so busy simply existing. It’s not just this year either, the road to this “eh” state of mind has been long.
But I got lucky, because I was blessed with family, and friends old and new, who were constantly trying to remind me that I was more than that, and eventually, with some push, I was able to look in the mirror and face the harsh truth: I’d become a person I didn’t recognize. And that’s where the self-reflection began.
Soon after that realization, I was trying to think of a good photo to use for #ThrowbackThursday—A cute childhood one, perhaps—I went back to the albums I’d spent hours perusing just days before and the photos of me laughing caught my eye again. That’s what I would do. Create a collage of photos of me laughing as a reminder to myself that it’s something I loved to do. I posted it and got such a positive reaction from family and friends and was reminded that THEY too probably missed that laughing woman.
But as the day wore on and I got busy running errands, a little voice in my head started questioning it.
“Wow, aren’t I a bit narcissistic for posting a collage of pictures of myself?”
“Well, I know my friends and family liked it, but they know me. What do the people who only know the Facebook/Instagram me think?”
And on and on went the questions, planting seeds of doubt in my head until I told myself, “Enough! What is so wrong in taking pleasure from my own happiness? Isn’t that what we’re constantly preaching? Find happiness within yourself?”
Can I get an Hallelujah and an Amen, cause THAT IS what we’re always preaching, “Love yourself first!” But here’s the thing: We’re all a bunch of lying hypocrites. When it comes right down to it, masturbation isn’t the only form of self-love we have to practice in private.
The truth is that we’re getting and giving mixed messages. If there’s something that society teaches us is that we are to be the best but that ‘ best’ will be judged by others. So we seek validation from external sources and are labeled needy or worse because we’re supposed to validate ourselves.
“Love yourself by telling yourself that you are beautiful just the way you are, but for goodness sake go do that shit in the mirror because if you say it out loud, as a card carrying member of our society of assholes, I have the absolute right to judge you and I may just have to tell you that you are wrong!’”
Not too long ago, I stood in front of the mirror and admired myself, then had to write about how weird and self-indulgent it felt. So I know that self-love is not about standing in front of the mirror trying to fool yourself into seeing yourself as beautiful. Feeling beautiful is merely a side effect of a regimen of self-love.
Self-love is about taking care of yourself inside and out. It’s about reminding yourself that even on your worst hair day, with a red zit glowing at the top of your nose, your heart deserves to smile.
A smiling heart and a passionate life will create a beauty within that transcends the standards of most. Only the weak and superficial among us will be unable to see the smile that shines from within, because they haven’t earned the privilege to see into our souls.
I don’t typically make resolutions, but I’m making one exception for 2014. I will let go of the shame, and practice self-love, because my heart deserves to smile.
P.S. Because my good friend Christina and I seem to share a brain sometimes, we’re on the same page for 2014 and writing about it. Check out her awesome self-love related challenge on her blog, www.kikisbetes.com.
P.P.S. Jen of From Polar Bears to Palm Trees reminded me of a ridiculous Jezebel post about selfies being a cry for help that I was going to reference here, but Veronica at Viva la Fesminista basically said what I would have, so I’ll just link there.
P.P.P.S. (is that even right?) Why not take yourself on an awesome date? Click here for some ideas.