“I do not trust people who don’t love themselves and yet tell me, ‘I love you.’ There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.” – Maya Angelou
We love love. And sometimes this has very little to do with the person that we claim to be loving. Sometimes their mere presence in our lives is what we desire, regardless of whether we actually feel physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually attracted to them or not. We love the idea of love, we love the idea that someone else thinks that we are desirable. We love the thought that another human being deems us as worthy, relevant, necessary, sufficient. In a universe that is fundamentally devoid of any objective meaning in and of itself, love provides us with an answer to many an existential question.
We want love. Love distracts us, it allows our attention to wander away from the more existentially pressing questions of life, like: Who am I? Why am I here? What the hell am I doing? Where am I going? Love allows us to get lost somewhere outside of ourselves, in something separate from ourselves, with someone other than our self.
We lack love. We are so quick to throw our love into the hands of a stranger because we do not feel worthy of our own love. We know our own flaws, we are cognizant of our own weaknesses, we have seen all of the skeletons that reside deep within the boundaries of our closet. We have had numerous interactions with our demons, we know our own insecurities, we are well aware of our own vulnerabilities. We have seen ourselves naked, wrinkles, scars, deformities and all. Burdened with all of this intimate knowledge, we question why anyone else would love us. We struggle to like ourselves, let alone love ourselves, so we depend on those around us that are not yet privy to all of this incriminating evidence, which we have accumulated over the course of our lifetime. We long for others to accept us, because we can not, because we will not, accept ourselves.
We have love. Despite our lack of self-love, somehow we are still able to – or at least we think we are still able to – love those around us, without hesitation. We love our mothers, our fathers, our brothers, our sisters. We love our friends, our partners, our children, our pets. We love religious figures, deities, idols, mere figments of our overactive collective imagination. We even love inanimate objects. We have love for everyone and everything besides ourselves. We are quick to direct our love in every direction, besides inwards. We help people, care for people, encourage people, trust people. We admire others and praise them for their accolades and achievements, yet we often overlook the person that matters the most: ourselves.
We need love. We need to love ourselves, we need to accept ourselves. We need to become personally acquainted with our own demons and get to know them each on a first name basis. We need to carefully arrange the skeletons in our closet and leave the door wide open for others to enter when we are done. We need to stand in front of the mirror, naked, and consult our resentment. What don’t we like about ourselves? What aspects of our self are we deeply ashamed of? What secrets are we keeping from ourselves? What lies are we telling ourselves? What masks do wear when we are out in public? We need to become more self-aware. We need to stop hiding. We need to stop hiding behind those around us, behind our clothes, behind our hairstyles, behind our makeup, behind our tattoos, behind our piercings, behind our possessions, behind our jobs, behind our titles, behind our qualifications, behind our designations, behind our accomplishments. We need to strip away all of the peripheral layers of inconsistency that sit between the subconscious story that we tell ourselves, the conscious story that we tell those around us, and the authentic, genuine, soul-baring story that we want to be told to the entire world, which is, by far, the most important story of all. A story written from deep within, borne from a vulnerable place without walls, barriers, borders, or facades.
Whether you need to find yourself, change yourself, or make yourself, always remember that above all else, regardless of who you have been, who you are, and who you aim to be, you need to love yourself.
You love love, you want love, you lack love, you have love, and most importantly, you need love.