You can look in the mirror at any given moment and find hundreds of flaws. You can turn on the television and compare yourself to every single actor or actress and end up short. You can close your eyes and dream of all the ways you could be better, prettier, stronger, more attractive.
Or you could simply smile and acknowledge the fact that you are always a work in progress.
Self-love isn’t about chasing perfection.
It isn’t about seeing yourself as the center of the universe.
It isn’t about pretending that there’s nothing wrong with you.
And it isn’t about brokenness and self-pity.
Self-love is about loving your mess.
It’s about seeing yourself as you are—a little confusing, a little crazy, a little lacking in some areas—but a self you are proud of, nonetheless. It’s not about looking at who’s around you, or even about how you haven’t gotten to the place you thought you would.
It’s about celebrating how far you’ve come and looking forward to what’s next.
I’ve seen and read thousands of things on self-love. How you’re supposed to love every piece of yourself, and that’s true. But that’s not everything. You can’t just love the broken pieces. You can’t focus on the pain and wear it like a badge on your chest. You have to be bigger than what hurt you. Acknowledge it, then move forward. You are not defined by your pain.
And you can’t have so much self-love that you convince yourself you’re perfect either.
You can’t love yourself into complacency. You must always see yourself as beautiful, yes. But as a beautiful work in progress.
The other day, I went to the gym and found myself staring at my reflection in the mirror after a good arm workout. In college, I had been the starting pitcher for my softball team, and in the months after my senior season, I was too heartbroken to throw. To be completely honest, it’s probably been six months since I’ve even picked up a softball.
Working out is different now. I don’t workout for games; I workout for myself. But it was strange to see my reflection in the mirror and realize that my body looks different, that my arms aren’t as visibly strong as they used to be.
It made me start to doubt who I was as a person.
It made me see all my flaws and take note of them.
But then as I stretched and felt my newly-sore shoulder muscles tense from their workout I realized something—I was a work in progress.
No, I wasn’t where I used to be, even a few months ago. And no, I wasn’t even the same person as I was a few months back. But there were still things to love about myself. I was still strong, still powerful, even if I was different.
See, I think that’s what self-love is all about. It’s not about looking back or looking around, it’s not about comparisons or focusing on negativity, and it’s not about seeing yourself as too perfect that you’re untouchable.
Self-love is about seeing yourself in progress. It’s about embracing who you are and how far you’ve come, while always pushing forward into who you can be.
It’s looking in the mirror and thinking, I’m strong, yes. I’m proud, yes. And I have a ways to go, yes.
It’s loving where you are but not allowing that to keep you from improving.
Because change is the only thing that’s constant in life.
And loving yourself while continuing to grow and change is good.