I felt compelled to make a new post because these past few months I’ve had a sort of revelation. I realized that I am in love with myself. This revelation didn’t come from stepping on the scale nor did it come from progress on my natural hair journey or getting a new job or receiving compliments from others. It came from me unlearning and rebuilding my relationship with myself. From crossing out the notions I forced myself to believe and remembering that I am my own creator, owner, designer, and definer.
The past few years I’ve been through a lot of pain. I gave into that pain. I let it tell me I was ugly both inside and out. I saw myself for everything I’m not rather than all that I am. But this year feels different. I feel, dare I say, happy? My steps feel lighter, more purposeful, my eyes a little softer and my smile lines more expressive (although they’re pretty dang dramatic as is).
What does loving yourself look like? I took to my journal recently and made a list of ways I can show myself more love and these were the main takeaways I’ve followed that have been key to not just being comfortable with, but loving my very body, soul, essence, and mind.
Loving myself looks like ditching negative energies. When something is not good for your mental health, you will know it. Maybe not right away, but when you find yourself asking if it’s worth it, you’re already there. When your rants get longer, you feel tears forming in the back of your eyes, you start questioning and comparing yourself, or raging about things and people that hold no value or place in your life, cut them out. Whether it’s a person you follow on social media, a one-sided relationship, someone you hardly talk to but makes you cringe, an account or news organization that you follow, if it’s not making you see your own worth, be the first to walk away. Don’t ever be afraid to cut someone out of your life. Your happiness is more important than their anger. If you have to ghost them, do it. It might take walking away from certain relationships to discover new ones. Even some of our own actions can create negative energy in our life such as certain foods we eat or aspects of our daily routine. I used to drink an iced caramel mocha everyday from the local coffee shop. It took me months to realize that not only is this habit draining my wallet and probably making me fat, but all that sugar was making me depressed. Getting rid of it left me energized both mentally and physically.
Loving myself looks like loving my story. I may not always understand it, why certain things had to happen to me. Why sometimes it was all trials and no tribulations. Why others got to be happy and beautiful and I didn’t. I’ve reflected a lot on my story, the puzzle pieces all from different boxes taped together to form me. I’ve had to accept my story to heal and understand having pain does not make me unique. There is no why me? Everyone in the world goes through tough shit. Another part of accepting your story, is owning your story. Sometimes, people might know a detail (or at least think they do), but the thing is, no matter how much someone knows or doesn’t know about your story, it is only a detail. Only you will know your truth, only you will understand, only you will direct where it leads next and how it got there in the first place. I’ve learned to truly not care what people think and what people think they know. And not to just say I don’t care, but to actually not care. Honestly, not caring is one of the most liberating things I have ever done for myself. I’ve had so many people in my life misread me, but the worst is when I misread myself. So now I choose to listen to my mind before another’s ignorance.
Loving myself looks like less screen time. This one is key. Self-love isn’t just making emotional changes, sometimes they are physical and tangible. When I notice myself exiting out of Instagram and immediately opening it back up, scrolling through Facebook when nothing is new, or when my eyes literally start to hurt because I’ve been reading staring at my laptop all day only to take a break and play on my phone– I know I need a break. Every once in a while, I like to just delete the social media apps from my phone and have a little social media detox. That way the first thing I see every morning and the last thing I see at night isn’t a constant reminder that I’m not as pretty, social, or exciting as other people. Usually when I do this, I unfriend people who aren’t really a part of my life or whose posts impact me in negative ways. Then I like to take time to focus on my life and no one else’s. I think the longest I’ve gone so far was about a month and a half. Sometimes, it might just be a week and that’s okay too. During that time where I made it over a month, I’m telling you my life felt so wholesome. I read books, like physical books. I was more in the moment. I went on dates with taking pictures the whole duration. Honestly, it was a modern oasis. I already spend so much time on my laptop for all my college tasks, I don’t need another screen to steal my vision. The only social media sites I use religiously are Facebook and Instagram. I have Snapchat, but I only use it to send snaps to my cousin and boyfriend. I have a Pinterest but I don’t use it for social purposes. I actually think it’s weird when people go out of their to follow you on Pinterest and Spotify and apps like that unless you’re besties. Can’t I just plan my future and listen to throwback music without the world watching me? Not everyone needs to know when I’m listening to Miss New Booty (By the way, listening to throwback music is one way I show myself love. The way an old song can light up your mood on any given day no matter how bad or dumb it is, honestly, it’s a wonderful feeling. I always get a kick out of jamming to my middle school hits).
Loving myself looks like less makeup. This one is a no-brainer. To start out, I don’t wear a lot of makeup in general. I usually fill in my eyebrows (cause they’re a little sparse as is), apply eyeliner (not always), and throw on some mascara. When I’m feeling fancy I’ll apply lipstick and some natural colored eyeshadow with a sparkly tint. I’ve been experiencing some vexing problems with my skin due to my birth control and weather changes so I’m trying to show myself love by not wearing foundation or bb cream to smooth and even my skin tone. Although every person is different, I find that foundation is not necessary on a daily basis. I really only need to apply when I’m attending professional events or going somewhere special. I’ve relied on it for far too long as a security blanket to mask my blemishes. However, covering my imperfections won’t help them go away. I can choose to be embarrassed or I can choose to be proactive. Letting the skin on my face breathe already has shown incredible results. Just like we all do, our skin too wants to be appreciated for what it is. While I’m blown away by people with a talent for makeup application, a part of me is glad that quite honestly I don’t know shit about makeup. I like it and I have fun with it, but I’m never going to master it and that’s okay. I have a very minimalist form of self expression and as long as my eyebrows, lashes and lips are on fleek I’m good to go. I’ve also been rewarding my skin by applying a face mask twice a week. I’m learning that a huge part of self-love is self-responsibility. I have to take care of the body I’m in or else it won’t reciprocate.
Loving myself looks like loving the people who love me back. One thing I try to do is show up for the people who show up for me. Sometimes I get so used to sticking my neck out for others with little return it’s physically and mentally draining. But when someone walks into my life and makes me feel appreciated, heard, and loved– when someone sees me for me and loves that me–well you better believe I’ll catch you even if you’re not falling. While I often struggle with money, I try to always have a least a little so that way on days where my REAL friends want to have a little shindig, I’ll be there to support, vent, dance my ass off, drive, get drunk or whatever the situation calls for. This is important because during my rock bottoms (yes, plural), I made myself feel like I wasn’t lovable or deserving. But this year, so many people have reminded me that is the farthest from the truth. Even though I’m more introverted and time to myself is crucial, I understand sometimes that showing myself love means getting off my butt and giving love to others. After all, who knows where life will take me after graduation. I have to enjoy the love my from college pals while I can.
Loving myself looks like putting my needs before wants, but not always. This one is my least favorite, but it’s true. Sometimes I have to take care of the things I need to do before pursuing the things I want to do. This means saving money before spending it, doing homework before watching Netflix, going outside before checking my phone, buying groceries before buying drinks or opting for water instead of a coffee. Although I may not reap the benefits until later on, sometimes doing the smarter thing contributes more to your happiness than the easy thing. Although wants can come first sometimes. I don’t want to regret missing out on moments with my friends because of money or homework I can push off. I don’t want to not go outside on a fall day because I know I should be writing a paper and starting a load of laundry. It takes making time and sometimes suffering the consequences, but I’ve learned to ask myself what will be worth it. I don’t have many regrets in life. I am confident and proud of all of the decisions that I have made. I have lived and learned, stumbled and stood. If I mess up, then I do. I try to be smart but I’m okay if I’m not always. I know “I’m young” isn’t an excuse for everything, but until I turn 30, I’m gonna keep using it.
May you fall deeply in love with yourself more each day. Fall in love with your story, your identity, your essence. Look in the mirror and tell yourself thank you. Thank you for your blemishes and your beauty, for your heartaches and your heart leaps. Write down what is beautiful about you. For me, I love the shape of my lips, my vulnerability, my hair, my strength, my black girl magic, my sense of adventure, my overwhelming love, and my connectedness with earth. I used to want nothing to do with me, now I’m celebrating the fact that I get to be me.