if only i’d known: it’s healthy to love yourself
There’s something really daunting about confessions of love, often because their validity seems to rely on the reaction of another. According to almost every girl I know and every “girl bible” ever, you’re never supposed to say I love you first. I have my own, probably controversial opinion about that, which I promise to divulge another time. But the general gist of my thoughts are, own your feelings. All of them. No matter how uncomfortable you might initially find them.
Women so often have their supposed inferiority pointed out to them. We’re constantly shown that we have reason to think we’re not good enough. Whether it’s in the mental comparison we make between ourselves and the model on the front cover of the latest monthly fashion magazine, or internalising the incessant “advice” offered to us within the pages of these magazines that serve as fillers for the abundant range of adverts promoting makeup, fashion and weight loss, we’re forever reminded that we’re likely not good enough.
This continual bombardment of yet another imperfection prepares us for rejection often based on what others think of us. We’re repeatedly urged not to make ourselves too vulnerable because heaven forbid we may experience rejection and what is our self worth without male validation? But then we’re reminded as women we must be slightly insecure, a little timid…docile, even. Which brings me to the very topic of discussion: what happens when this insecurity results in a rejection for and an inability to love one’s self?
We live in an age where we can’t escape comparison. Previously the only people to whom we could compare ourselves were those who lived in our communities; people we knew well. But as new media makes the world much smaller and we are each day exposed to more of others (often complete strangers) we have more and more with which to compare ourselves. In a world of not-quite-good-enough this is more reason to forget our strengths and allow our insecurities to thrive.
‘Forbes Woman’ (an offshoot of Forbes) recently published an article suggesting that often blogs by women for women on the topics of parenting, lifestyle and home living are ‘packaged in sepia-tinted Instagram photos, scrawling font and language of Oprah style empowerment – You too can live your best life and mirroring mine is a good place to start is the implicit message’, giving women yet another reason to believe doing it differently is doing it wrong.
Women who are open about their love for others are viewed as being somehow emotionally fragile, because you know, that’s not how men do it. People, however, are even more skeptical, nay, critical of the woman who is courageous enough to admit she is a little bit in love with herself. Overwhelming criticism of these women is that they’re too confident, too self-absorbed to think they could do any wrong.
Why is it so normal to love another often unrequitedly but so peculiar when we admit a love for ourselves? If you do life right, then you should know yourself better than anyone. Presumably you’re the person who spends the most amount of time with yourself and if you’re the slightest bit observant it’s safe to assume you notice things about yourself. If it’s true that the more you get to know a person the greater your capacity to love them, then should the same not apply to oneself?
Loving oneself need not be narcissistic or self indulgent and true love for oneself only comes from knowing ones limits and flaws and accepting them without hesitation. So why then are we so quick to judge the woman who refuses to engage in a discussion about her imperfections with sickening regularity?
Self-exploration is about as scary as coming face to face with a tiger on the verge of death by starvation. Actually probably a little more frightening since it’s far more likely to occur. But it is how you learn to love who you are. It’s exactly why you can decide in the middle of a conversation where everyone is talking about how much weight they’ve gained, how big their noses are or how blemished their skin is, that you’re not perfect but you are enough.
I am pretty enough. I am smart enough. I am caring, sweet and attentive enough. I am interesting enough and I am successful enough. Admitting this is by no means an indication that I see myself as flawless, rather it is a sign that I’ve acknowledged the limit of my own ability. Nobody will ever hand me a modelling contract, and I’m not slim or tall by industry standards, but that doesn’t mean I’m not content with the way I look… without makeup. I’m not likely to be handed a Nobel Prize but that doesn’t suddenly draw my intelligence into question.
I love myself enough to know that every day I need to work on making myself a better person. I love myself enough to know what I deserve and enough to know that my mistakes do not define me; they just help me realise my strengths and weaknesses. I love myself enough that I do not have to apologise because it is that very love that allows me to love others around me without apprehension or reservation.
As another, perhaps better, writer, Carrie Bradshaw once said: ‘The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you you love, well, that’s just fabulous’.
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