Can we make this whole self-love thing not just a thing anymore?
“Self-love” is a wellness term as trendy as “matcha,” “adaptogens,” or “cryotherapy.” But the good thing about trends is that they don’t stay trends forever–they either die out or become so ingrained in individual ways of life that it’s a cultural norm.
That is my hope with self-love. How magical if all of this talk about learning to love ourselves truly led to a macro mindset shift that allowed for body image, self-degradation and internally-focused anxiety to be a thing of the past. A girl can dream, right?
If you need a few reminders about why you should love yourself, well I can’t exactly tell you. That’s why this is so tough–self-love is incredibly personal and individualized. But talking about it, like all things, makes it easier to understand how we got from point A to point B. Like a mapping of how you got yourself to this place of only self-like (hopefully not self-loathing!) instead of self-love. I know that’s what I had to do for myself, and it’s certainly why so many people write about self-love, why self-love has become a “thing”: we’re constantly searching for answers that only we, ourselves, can provide.
The sparknotes version of my own journey with this is one of a dancer who spent her life in front of a mirror comparing herself to others (physically, talentwise, etc) and was stressed out about food because of a desire to be thinner but also because of a fear of foods that would cause anaphylaxis. (I have a fatal milk allergy.) I mean, when you reduce it like that, it’s just so boring. But also SO relatable…because it’s too normal. We’ve heard versions of that same story too many times.
But as I was growing up and hit different milestones little voices of reassurance crept into my brain:
On a day I envied another dancer’s body:
“If you had her body you wouldn’t know how to move that body. You couldn’t dance like you dance now. You’ve had this body so long already–you know it too well to want another.”
On a day I was particularly hungry after thinking eating less was the answer:
“You realize you feel crazy right now, right? And that you’re the only one doing this to yourself? Go eat a sandwich and stop this.”
On a day after I drank too much, ate too much crap and then was left by my lonesome to tailspin about how “fat” I was:
“But remember how fun it was to stay out all night with your friends and just live. No commitments. Only fun to be had and stories to tell later.”
I wondered why these moments of clarity came through the bullshit. The answer I’ve landed on is that it just didn’t feel good to be in that negative headspace. It didn’t feel natural to me even though it was easy.
There were plenty of those aha moments along the way that eventually led to bigger shifts and finally put me where I am now: in full self-love. But, like any loving relationship, it takes work, nurturing, care, understanding and sometimes tough love. Realness and authenticity with yourself is the hardest thing in the world, but it’s necessary to bring that self-love all the way home. The thing I always remind myself of is to love yourself in service only to thyself….
Meaning, loving yourself purely to love yourself. Because positivity and happiness are naturally built into love and why not cloak your body and mind in that beautiful brightness? They’re are already doing so much work to love you back–keep you functioning, fending off toxins, intruders, and disease. Giving you gut feelings when to stave off or when to dive in. All of your senses. (Seriously, when you think about them singularly and as a collective whole, it’s mind-blowing.) Your self does a million things for you without asking, just by knowing. It simultaneously asks for nothing in return even when it needs so much back, only to serve you better.
There is no magical key to finding self-love but hopefully we continue to talk about it, not only as a wellness hot topic but as a true reminder of its importance. I hope that self-love is so perpetuated that we spread it to our children as the most normal and basic part of life and culture. It starts from within. Let’s get there. Because how beautiful would it be to watch that self-love connect to every other beating heart and watch how it fuels the world?