Self-love, as defined by the dictionary refers to the regard for one’s happiness and well-being. However, I believe that self-love is subjective and one definition cannot encompass individual’s meanings of self-love. Self- love to me has been more of a journey to self-discovery.
Growing up, I automatically disqualified myself from being beautiful because of my darker complexion and weight. Simply because both these characteristics were regarded as unattractive and ugly. This is the painful subliminal commercial messaging that was and still is communicated to me and the rest of black women through mass media platforms and overtly by peers. I grew up embarrassed by my appearance, moreover of my weight and this took a toll on my self-esteem.
The war I had waged upon myself, more specifically my body, began to escalate as I grew. I can attribute the greater escalation to my high school years. Not conscious that the presence of another woman’s beauty is not the absence of my own, attending an all-girls school presented a new set of challenges. I was confronted with the need to compare myself to everyone, particularly the thinner girls. My self-esteem further deteriorated and was met with the piercing desire to be thin.
I joined the hockey and softball teams in the pursuit to lose weight. Even though I began to see results, they were not as fast as what I anticipated. I started making drastic changes to my diet. I eliminated sugar and carbohydrates completely. finally, at seventeen I was at my thinnest. Everyone noticing me, felt great, clothes fit better, and the compliments I received were fulfilling. For the first time, I felt beautiful. I became so obsessed with keeping my weight off that I began taking weight loss medication, aimed at suppressing my appetite. The unhealthy measures did not bother me because I “looked good” and subsequently felt better about myself.
Evidently, I had the wrong end of the stick with regards to self-love. I based my self-love on the number that appeared on my scale and the close alignment of my appearance to societal standards of beauty. I did not realise that this obsession about weight loss was futile for my soul and merely fed the ego.
Through introspection, and the engagement with other women and literature I embarked on a rejuvenating journey of self-love. I decided to choose myself!
Self-love to me has meant the unconditional positive regard for the self in its entirety. Simply put, I made a conscious decision to accept myself the way I am fully. My hair, my intellectual capacity, my complexion, my height, my past experiences and all that I am and aspire to be. I decided and accepted that I am good enough. Now this is not something that happens overnight but I committed to leading a life that is beneficial to my inner peace, growth of self-love and unconditional positive regard.
When embarking on the journey of self-love it is important that one spends time knowing oneself as much as possible. Take the time to converse with yourself and be mindful of all your thoughts and emotions. I can attest to the fact that time alone has afforded me self-growth, more so than time spent with others. Active involvement is critical on the journey and the acquisition of self-love.
Self-love is the building block of love and there is no love deeper love. It is the cornerstone of self-respect and affords us the ability to see past our flaws, fears and all that haunts us. External factors won’t sway you as easily as it provides you with inner peace, joy, as well as a self-confidence
You are powerful and unlimited and it is therefore vitally important that you don’t live according to the ever so limiting societal standards of beauty and worth. Let go of societies obsession about what is worth celebrating and what is not and take a conscious decision to celebrate yourself, for who you are. Commit to accepting yourself entirely, the light parts and the dark parts, the good and the bad. Learn to appreciate and treasure all that you are.
Remember self-love is the prerequisite to others loving you.
You are enough! Go home and love yourself!