Ten years ago, I hated who I was.
My flat chest, and my limply straight, cocoa locks. My protruding hips, along with the number in the back of my jeans. My caramel colored skin, and the curved arch of my nose. The sound of my voice. My shy exterior.
I could go on for days… the same way my legs do. Most women would kill for pins like mine, yet I still found a way to hate my tall, gangly figure.
You see, self-loathing doesn’t keep favorites. He seeps into so many minds you’d think were impenetrable.
Back then, I didn’t know how to fix myself. I didn’t know how to click my fingers and make those not-good-enough feelings disappear. All I could see was a sea of Goddesses for miles, glowing on the pages of magazines, through the TV screen, and as I drifted down the street. I desperately wanted to look, to feel, to act, and to be like all of them. Anyone but myself.
And you know what saved me, from the brink of despair?
Finally learning to love the shit out of myself, every damn day.
Waking up and telling myself I was beautiful, even when I felt anything but.
Deciding to quit looking for love in the arms of anyone but myself.
Pushing past the feelings of wanting to go under the knife, and cut and sew my troubles up.
Forcing myself out of my comfort zone, even when my knees were trembling, and my voice shaking.
Going out of my way to do shit that scared me every damn day.
Self-love is not this airy fairy bullshit that people make it out to be. Not to me it’s not.
Self-love called me home to my heart.
And yes, you do need it. So much more than you know.
Of course, you can wake up and carry on as usual without it.
Of course, you can be in a relationship and love someone else without it.
Of course, you can achieve great things, help a tonne of people, and be successful without it.
But will you know the difference between someone loving you and hurting you?
Will you know when to stay and when to walk away?
Will you know to whisper those positive, affirming words to yourself, instead of those toxic, damaging ones you’ve known for so long?
And will you know if you’re doing it for you, instead of trying to bend or break yourself to fit in, or please someone else?
If self-love is something you never choose to master; something you never quite manage to embody in this lifetime – I’m sure you’ll be okay.
I’m sure you’ll live an okay life, maybe even a good one. But never a peaceful one.
You know those Goddesses I was talking about? The ones who seem to glow from the inside out?
You might think it’s Maybelline, but I know different. Maybe she wasn’t born with it either. Maybe she just woke up one day and decided she was tired of hating herself. Maybe she wanted better. Maybe she finally understood she was deserving of better. So she went and did the hard work. Because that’s what learning to love yourself is – it’s work. It’s painful, exhilarating, overwhelming, and liberating. I should write painful twice, and if you’ve been there and made your way out to the light, you’ll get it.
So quit shitting on self-love. Quit dismissing the mecca-like journey we are all on. I don’t need you to tell me what self-love really means because I’ve fucking lived through it.
I’ve lived on both sides; I know which one I prefer, and the one I’m petrified of lapsing back into.
Don’t be so quick to call bullshit on self-love. Not until you’ve found it, learned it, and devoured it. Not until you’ve appreciated it for what it truly is: freedom.