An Introduction to Self-Love
Hey Guys and Dolls,
Welcome to Love; A culmination of my musings, insights, wisdom, and advice. Here I cover what life has revealed to me about love.
Love is my favorite thing to write about, think about and explore. Fact: The first full length novel I ever wrote was entitled Ode to Love. It dealt mostly with sisterhood and familial love but I was twelve years old and knew so little about romantic love and even less about self–love. Over the past decade and some change I’ve learned and experienced a few simple truths in all and I am here to share that love.
The ancient Greeks, in their time, developed about six different words to describe the spectrum of love. Of those words of love the most apparent and most important is phillautia, self love. So important is philautia, it practically opens you up to the other five types of love. Aristotle himself once wrote, “All friendly feelings for others are an extension of a man’s feelings for himself.” Though the Greeks do provide warning stories of Self-Obsession, the general idea was without the love of self no other love seems possible.
I stumbled onto my own self-love journey around the age of fifteen. An awkward black girl with an anxiety disorder, who teetered on the chasm of depression with no self-esteem to speak of, I could only look down. I began to realize what a danger I had become to myself. I felt broken. I had two options; I could learn to live with myself as I was (and as I was not) or end it all. The latter felt tempting but I had big dreams, huge. They were all I lived for and to kill myself was to kill those dreams and to have suffered for nothing. I chose then to take the arduous path of self-love. I chose to do it for the girl I could be even if I couldn’t muster the desire to do it for the girl I was. So let me show you how I did it.
Lesson #1 Fuck’um
It has become the goal of many a millennial to truly give no fucks.This obviously can be taken to the extreme, and you can become a downright savage, but taken in the context of self-love the literal first step is to not give a fuck. Let all your fucks fall off of you like the burdens they are. Stop giving a fuck about your flaws, the naysayers, the criticizers, and everyone who isn’t in your corner. You’ve neglected yourself for far too long, living in a world where what everyone thinks about you holds more weight than what you think about you. Well, Fuck that!
During middle school and its hormonal maelstrom of puberty and budding social skills I attended a school in a predominantly Latinx area. I caught flack for being too tall, too dark, too nappy headed, to chubby, and too Haitian. By the time I hit high school I was under the full belief that I was apart of the unfortunate few “cursed” to be ugly. This was where my self-love awakening began, more to the tune of “ I’m big, black and ugly, Fuck whoever don’t like it.”
Oddly enough this mere acceptance of myself despite what I saw or what anyone else saw was so powerful. Today my tune is more like “I’m beautiful because I’m incredibly flawed, and there is no one quite as beautifully flawed as I am.” Trust me your tune will change like mine had but first you must accept what is there. Look at yourself for who you are and accept what you see despite what you think of it.
The next step was to deal with how the world reacted to me. Back in middle school, in this Latin majority area, I was teased and ridiculed and judged harshly but the main perpetrators were the few other black kids. My biggest bully was a tall, dark, and chubby black girl who had a reputation for being volatile and violent. She had two other cohorts both chubby black girls but short and her goons bullied my sister for not being afraid to be different. What I realized is that a lot of times our harshest criticizers, haters, and bullies are people who see in you what they hate about themselves.You are the representation of their flaws coming to haunt them.
Guys and Dolls, I am here to tell you fuck ’em, every single time. There insecurity is not your problem. Fuck how they feel! Your life is about you, love you and don’t let them infect you with their self-loathing. I’m not encouraging you to pop off on everyone who comments on your back rolls, but understand that another’s hatred of their own back rolls or fear of developing back rolls has absolutely nothing to do with you. Its their issue, let that shit roll off the back rolls they want you to be ashamed of. There is no shame in being, in loving yourself, and in being flawed. Again I say, fuck ‘em.
Exercise One: The Shift
The absolute first step is to accept that you have flaws and understand that they do not make or break you. Everyone is different so I can’t tell you the exact steps it will take to get you there, only that you must actively try to get to that mindset every single day. My particular insecurities, like a lot of peoples are physical. I believed I was intelligent, ingenious, and ambitious but that didn’t mean shit to the world if I wasn’t pretty.
I first started by looking at myself in pictures forcing myself to face every “ugly” thing about me and accept them. I stared at my dark skin, my fat rolls, my kinky hair, my gap teeth, and accepted them each one by one. I realized that separately I can pick a “flaw” and find people who were beautiful because of that flaw. Why did these things make me ugly while the others were not. The reason was my perception was skewered. If I can find these traits in others and accept and love them, then I will accept and love those traits in me. I challenge all of you to shift your perception of you by any means.
Lesson #2 If You Got It Flaunt It
“What if you don’t got it?” I hear someone yell from the back. Listen up guys and dolls if you are alive and breathing then you’ve already got it. All that is left is to find out what your “it” is and flaunt that bad boy. This is the easy part, the fun part, the part where you start to feel better, start to feel good. Its the part that comes after your painful breakthrough, before you get your standard issue bad bitch self-love theme song. The second step is to know yourself like no one else could. Not just the things everyone knows about themselves like favorite color or shoe size. Dig deeper. Learn your likes learn your dislikes learn your buttons and your triggers. Know what is magnetic about you and what rubs people wrong. Learn why people tend to love you and why people tend to hate you. Learn what it means to be by yourself and be happy. Learn. Learn your assets, what people value about you Here is where you become the best friend you never had, and the lover you always wanted.
Secondly, you must discover your hidden gems, the things you value about yourself. I’m assuming you all are avid pinteresters and have come across that photo that claims what the Japanese believe about the three faces. The first you show to the world, the second to you fam and ace boons and the last is the one that you only see. That third face is encrusted with your hidden gems. Those gems are the foundation of the relationship you are building with yourself. This is the most important relationship in your life for it can propel your glow up, fuel your success, and rebound you from your failures.
Exercise Two: You Gon’ Learn
Around the beginning of my journey I had officially given up on ever being perceived as attractive physically so I must be socially attractive, or spiritually attractive, or whatever that thing was that drew my friends to me. I had to find out what that was exactly. I was way to shy to simply ask my friends, so I took the simplest passive route. I accepted my compliments. Easy, right? Before my awakening, I would just brush them off as lies or a manipulation. When we are at our lowest we tend to believe our haters and dismiss our encouragers. What was the last compliment you received? “Nice hairdo,” “You’re so smart” or “You are wearing those heels,” These are clues to your assets, what others value about you. Believe them even if the compliments seem insincere or backhanded. There is something amazing about you if people feel the need to knock you down a peg with such compliments.
Excercise Three: Discovering Your Gems
My first “gem” that I found was my ability to find common ground with almost anyone.I made friends easily, all over the place. I found that with effort I was charming. In high school my circle of friends was so big and varied that come senior year I was deeply entrenched in everything from band and drama to sports, academics, and Student Government. I founded clubs that brought together my most unlikely of friends. You’d think this is something I would recognize in myself but it wasn’t until years after high school that I’d made the discovery. I did it by simply being more aware of how the world reacted to me and why. The easiest way to do this is journaling, not a far stretch for the young writer I was. I used my journal to record the big emotions I felt everyday, analyzed why I felt them, and determined if they were good bad or necessary. That simple. Journaling will force you to analyze and analyzing will force you to be aware.
I am pretty sure that there are other ways of discovery but I’ve never sought them out. Specialist and therapist may no more but I want you to dig for yourself and find that method that unlocks your discoveries. So speak to God, meditate, see a professional, align your chakras, speak to the universe, change your frequencies, or get in tune with your higher self; do whatever it takes to discover you and the beauty that is there.
Lesson #3 Take Care of Your Star Player
If you’re anything like me you’ve binge watched Katt Williams comedy specials and already know what I’m talking about. For those who don’t your star player is you. You are on a team of you and the player that will come through every single time is yourself. There’s no one else who will, can, and should be there for you except for your star player. That body that you got will be the only vessel you get to carry you through this world and so you’ve gotta take care of it. Not just your body but you mental, emotional and spiritual wellness. You have to love to love you. When you love something its well being takes precedence. So you gotta love you some you. Fall in love with your style, smile, and your life. Show the world, be the example on how to love you.
Exercise: Love You Some You
Every single day carve out some you time. Do it! No excuses! If you love you, show you some love and accept nothing less from yourself. Enjoy your solitude, practice being Rihanna in your undies. It could be meditating, cooking or writing. Binge watch your nerdy/trashy shows, color in those mandala coloring books, or even read raunchy erotica online. (Insert shameless plug for novel here) Whatever you do make it your time to decompress and check in with your well being. Personally I do a full face beat take hella shameless selfies, daydream about posting them and becoming an IG baddie, then wussing out and watching Ru Paul’s Drag race. The goal is to spend some good ole quality time with yourself. It is in my opinion, and not a professional one at that, that depression causes you to retreat away from yourself just as vehemently as it makes you retreat from the world. Its totally possible for someone to surround themselves with people just to avoid their own company.
Exercise: Treat Yo’ Self
Go out right now and do something for you! I don’t mean binge eat Birthday cake and wallow in self-pity. Get your nails done, buy a new dress, get a Groupon massage deal, buy a pack of skittles just to stare at that fine ass store clerk, get dressed up and go see a movie by yourself, whatever you do just treat yourself. You go through way way too much shit, you put up with a lot of shit, your shit and the world’s shit and after that much shit you deserve to feel like royalty. I have Princess Days this is usually a day that I request off personally, I go to the library, or walk through a flea market, I get my nails, done then buy something designer out of a clearance bin.
Now go Bellas into the world and put the lessons to good use. Take those first steps on your new self-love journey and do not look back, stumble, fall, get up and love you. If you’ve been on your self-love journey I implore you to impart encouragement to those just starting. Everyone’s journey is different and I need more than my accounts to prove the truth in these lessons. Queens help queens. If your just starting share your success thus far you can always help the next queen start or continue her own journey. It was the reason I wrote this post. If this post helps one woman I’ve done my queenly duty.
You can look forward to the next self-love installment on Avoiding Self sabotage and a few more posts on love sex and relationship and sisterhood. Subscribe to stay on the up and up.