What does it even mean to love yourself? Is it thinking you are super hot? Is it knowing your worth? Is it being a hot girl even when times get tough? I never could think of a solid answer, though I attempted all of the above. Loving myself had always been very arbitrary. I never knew what it should or could feel like, I just knew I did not hate myself. When I was high, I was high. When I was low, I was low, just like everybody else. Isn't that what loving yourself feels like? Naturally, I was incredibly wrong.
Like much in life, loving yourself is an active choice. If love is defined as a willful commitment to a unique individual out of sole desire, then loving yourself first asks you to commit to yourself not because you can or have no choice, but because you want to. But before you make such a huge commitment, you should probably get to know yourself a little better. Loving yourself is not all peace, love, and pixie dust. Loving yourself requires you to be real which often requires you to feel things you may not want to feel. Loving yourself means accepting you at your worst and wanting to be you at your best. Loving yourself does not mean pretending to be something you are not, loving yourself means being who you are even if that means choosing to think differently. Loving yourself is not an excuse to never change because you already love who you are, loving yourself often reveals that you have not been that great and may not be who you thought you were at all. Loving yourself should feel just as easy as it is to love other people. In my opinion, that is why loving yourself can be difficult sometimes. Loving yourself reminds you that nobody is perfect, but that it should not matter anyways. To love yourself, you have to accept yourself for who you are, the good, the bad, and the ever changing. So how does one just magically see all their flaws, accept their imperfections, and choose to think differently? Does it just happen overnight?
Well, if you thought loving yourself would just magically happen over night, rub a lamp. Loving yourself, just like loving anything else, takes time. "We accept the love we think we deserve." Sound familiar? Though this quote is often applied to the relationships we choose to grow, I would argue it is an even stronger testament to how we can choose to love ourselves. Loving yourself asks you to ask yourself how you want to be loved. If you are not loving yourself the way you want to be loved, how can anybody else know how to love you? For me, loving myself first required me to be honest. And if I am being honest, I was not exactly sure how I wanted to be loved. Loving yourself can feel like a lot of trial and error, but at the end of the day loving yourself just feels like accepting you because you want to.
You might be asking yourself why this is important. Excluding the overarching reason of just feeling better, you generally attract what you put out. Michael Jackson said it best, you have to start with the man (OR WOMAN) in the mirror. Until you know how to treat yourself, nobody will know how to treat you. This often leads to feeling mistreated which, in my experience, is a slippery slope. (To be honest, some people might not treat you right regardless. Shame on them.) Loving yourself opens you up to the possibility of feeling just as loved by others.
In short, loving yourself means loving you the way you want to be loved. Loving yourself means loving you the way you want to love others. Loving yourself means being as understanding, empathetic, nurturing, kind, and accepting to yourself as you would want someone to be with you. Loving yourself requires you to be real. Loving yourself means calling yourself out on your bullshit. Loving yourself means accepting you are not the hottest person alive. Loving yourself means being as brutally honest with yourself as possible and choosing to love and accept you for you. Loving yourself takes work. Loving yourself takes time. Loving yourself can feel like a lot of up and down. Loving yourself is not all black and white. Loving yourself means acknowledging the cringiest, craziest, most gut-wrenching parts of yourself and honestly not wanting it any other way. Loving yourself frees you up to love others even more. So please, love yourself. I mean, why wouldn't you?
Signed: Another Hopeless Romantic (Swae Lee, if you see this, hi! I'm single.)