The other day as I was scrolling through my tumblr — yes, I still tumble circa 2012 — I came across a quote by Bridgette Devou: “if you’re waiting for your next love look in the mirror.”

In this modern day and age, we constantly are hearing the importance of loving ourselves. Some bullshit about how if you don’t love yourself then who will? Self-love is the first step to happiness yadda yadda yadda.

Whatever your age, whatever your gender, whatever your identity, self-love is no easy feat. We are our own worst critics, and as we spend each and every second with ourselves, it’s easy to find things that are wrong, scars we wish would fade, skin we wish was smoother, teeth we wish were whiter, lumps we wish were non-existent, eyes we wish were different. It makes it no easier when you keep hearing all this bullshit about how you absolutely have to love yourself before everything else. Our culture is suffocated by the necessity to love itself and when has anything mandatory ever been easy to accept?

The fact of the matter is, it’s okay if you never reach the point of oh-so-perfect self-acceptance. Nobody is perfect and, quite honestly, if you think you’re perfect you’re a total asshole. Everyone has flaws and imperfections. Everyone has things they wish they could change about themselves. It is the knowledge of any shortcomings that allows us to change and mold ourselves each day, year, decade. Without the desire for change, no one ever would.

When I came across Devou’s quote it sang to me a different message than the generic “you have to love yourself.”

“if you’re waiting for your next love look in the mirror.”

When you love someone you accept them for their flaws, but this doesn’t mean you don’t see these imperfections. There are times you want to grab them by the shoulders and shake them for being so blind. Moments they bring tears to your eyes. Hours of silence following minutes filled with yelling.

The point is: love is never perfect. So, it’s unrealistic to think self-love will ever be perfect or that it will ever make everything else perfect.

Self-love is just as messy and untamed as any other type, and we must accept it as such. There will be days you look in the mirror and dislike what you see and that’s completely okay because there will also be days you wake up feeling more yourself than ever.

Self-love is a lifelong work in progress, the most important part of which is to enjoy the entirety of.