The idea of self-love is so complicated. To love yourself is to accept yourself in all of your mess. To know that you’re imperfect and flawed, and yet still appreciate what makes you, you, even when that ‘you’ doesn’t always have it together, or has a less-than-ideal body, or isn’t completely ‘whole.’
And yet, self-love isn’t just blatant selfishness. It isn’t choosing yourself to the point that you become narcissistic, or loving yourself so much that you have an unhealthy, limited amount of room for anyone or anything else.
It’s not being stagnant, thinking that what you’ve done is wonderful, and you should stop right there and settle for just being enough. Self-love isn’t thinking you’re complete—because there’s always something to pursue. But also not believing you’re somehow less than whole either—because you are always full, even without love or all the pieces put together.
Self-love is a pursuit, a chase, a never settling, but also a celebration of where you are right now and how far you’ve come. Self-love is a continual choice—choosing every day to burn brighter than you did before, choosing to improve, but also smiling at your reflection in the mirror and saying, ‘I am proud of who I have become.’
Open a computer, flip through a book or magazine, watch something on television—you’re inundated with images of people ‘becoming their best selves,’ ‘living their best lives,’ having their ‘greatest bodies,’ or ‘finding who they really are.’ No matter where you look, it feels like the entire world is figuring themselves out, is changing, is owning their bodies and showing them off to the world.
But the images in the media, the articles, the ideas that are thrown around and shoved into your face are not yours to own or keep. You write your own self-love story. How you choose to grow and break and build and heal is up to you, not the world.
So do it on your own terms and in your own way.
Self-love is not just standing there in total acceptance of your body and soul because honestly, that will never fully happen—as humans we’re always shifting and becoming something new.
Self-love isn’t about open-armed embracing every second of the process, but learning to smile at the chaos. It’s finding something to celebrate, even when you’re imperfect—because imperfect is normal.
You don’t have to wait until you have every part of yourself understood before you stand with confidence. You don’t have to feel ‘whole’ or ‘complete’ before you own your identity, or speak to yourself with praise. You don’t have to have all the answers before you fall in love with someone. And you also don’t have to think you’re any less than full, simply because you’re still figuring yourself out.
Self-love is not this conquest, this puzzle you’re supposed to have completed by a certain age. It’s not a state of being, or this ‘higher level’ of living.
Self-love is simply finding happiness with who you are and have been—rejoicing in who you are while becoming a newer version of that you every single day.
So I hope you stop listening to the world. I hope you quit watching shows or reading magazines and thinking you’re so many years behind. I hope you remove negativity and the silly belief that you’re ‘not enough’ until you’re totally full, or healed, or understood.
Because self-love is not a level you reach, it’s a constant celebration of where you’ve been where you’re going.
It’s standing and saying, ‘I’m doing just fine. And I can’t wait to see where I go next.’