In the way you take time with yourself, standing calmly at the bathroom mirror, smiling until the expression feels familiar. In the way that you watch the corners of your mouth curl upwards when you laugh, or see the lines around your eyes deepen naturally when you’re filled with joy. In the way you see your beauty first, rather than your flaws or what you wish to change—that is how you teach people to love you.
With patience, with approval.
In the way you push yourself, step by step, mile by mile. In the way you breathe deeply then inch forward, climbing to the top. In the way the sweat glistens on your forehead and your heart fills with pride. In the way you never let another’s ‘no’ determine your answer, but seek the truth yourself—that is how you teach people to love you.
With resilience, with respect.
You show them that who you are is not defined by the reflection in a mirror or the words spilled from someone else’s mouth. You show them that a limit is not imposed unless you place it there. You show them the person you have the power to be is already within you, strong and full on her own.
You show them that to love you means to accept all of your parts—not thinking that you are perfect, but that you are worthy. Because you believe yourself to be.
In the way you listen to music, dance under the stars, sit and watch the tree leaves flutter in the wind. In the way you question, or meet deadlines, or furrow your eyebrows as you imagine all the answers to the problem you’ve been given. In the way you think and move and fall into a deep sleep at the end of the day, taking time to work hard and wind down—that is how you teach people to love you.
With ease, with intention.
In the way you count your blessings but always strive for more, how you spend time with the people you love but also enjoy being alone. In the way you speak words of kindness and hope, even in the darkness—that is how you teach people to love you.
With persistence, with care.
You show them who you are is being created with every step, every sentence, every smile. You show them that you are capable, but also value others. That you love the rush but appreciate the silence. That you are a balance, a chaos, an ever-changing being.
You show them that you are complex, but not difficult, bold but not harsh, soft but not fragile.
And in the way you are continually learning to accept yourself, to strive for more, to learn and grow and celebrate the person you are becoming—that is how you teach people to love you.
With acceptance and tenderness and eagerness and fight.