9: Self-Love / by LaQuann Dawson

Lately I've been coming across different people who have different ideas of what self-love is or what it means to love oneself so I thought I might share mine.

Shirt - Topman (topman.com) | Cardigan - Thrifted (The Village Thrift Shop) | original photo by India Pringle (@fathomsome) - edit by me

A lot of people think that self-love comes strictly from physical characteristics that a person might have. While physical things can (and surely do) contribute to the way a person feels about themselves, this is a shallow outlook on what it means to love yourself. Self-love has everything to do with caring about oneself, realizing one's worth and value.

This is not to be confused with any type of narcissism or arrogance. Self-love is healthy, it is patient and it is forgiving. For me....self-love is not about loving your body every day, or your outfit. I don't think it is about loving every pimple on your face or every split end. It is not about loving every decision you make in a day. It certainly is not about the amount of makeup you choose to wear. Self-love is intimate and deep. It is a very personal feeling to have and its definition is fluid. 

For me, as a person who certainly loves himself, self-love is about forgiving and being comfortable with who I am. I think it is easier to talk about loving yourself as if you are someone else. So humor me for a second...say you have a friend. Your friend has all these great qualities, they are kind, they are open to growth, they have nice hair, a unique sense of humor and a whole lot of ambition. This friend has flaws and makes mistakes too. They've cheated on a lover, shops too much, forgets to call grandma back, they don't visit home enough, they don't work out everyday, they break out every now and then, falls asleep at work and loves to argue. Is this friend less worthy of your love because of these qualities? Be honest, are these things that will make you stop loving your friend? What if this friend was your brother? What if this was your mother? What if this friend was yourself? Someone you are literally stuck with. If you could forgive and accept your friend's, brother's or mother's "flaws" and still love them, would you not be able to do the same for yourself? I understand we are harder on ourselves than we are on others, and that is okay, because we want more for ourselves and we expect more. I think being hard on someone and expecting greatness from some one is a form of love all its own. Think about it.

Personally, I have not always loved myself. That was a dark time for me and once I learned how important it was to love myself for a healthier living, I started to work on it. Nothing about me is perfect and it has been a long ass journey to get to this point of self-acceptance, constant forgiveness and to be at peace with who I am. I would never want to return to a place where I didn't love myself because I genuinely believe that to love yourself is the key to a happy life. To give yourself permission to make mistakes sometimes and wake up the next morning and keep trying.

I read something recently criticizing women who preach about self-love and then wear a face full of makeup. No disrespect to this person, but I have to speak on this. Self-love does not mean you have to love every pimple on your face or bag under your eye. You do not have to leave the house with a bare face just to be able to say you love yourself. You can have painted on cheekbones, $500 worth of weave and a contoured neck and you might love yourself more than I do. Loving yourself does not mean you aren't allowed to have insecurities, and it doesn't mean you can't find joy in wearing makeup or expressing yourself however you please. And wearing makeup in no way means that you are insecure or have problems.

For me, loving myself means forgiving myself for maxing out my credit card and paying it off slowly. Loving myself means that I know I told myself I would stop eating Hungry Howie's when I got too busy to cook, but I'm going to anyway, I'll feel bad about it for a little bit but I'm going to eat it anyway because I am hungry and still deserve to eat. Loving myself is regretfully staying up until 5 in the morning watching Jane the Virgin with a bowl of Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream and waking up at 9am because I have to do the homework I just neglected. Loving myself is buying Beyoncé tickets I can't afford because I made a goal to top 2015 and I deserve it. Loving myself is realizing that all of the mistakes I make are learning experiences and it is understanding that I am allowed to put myself first sometimes but I am not a bad person because of it. Loving myself is knowing that I am capable of getting out of life the things I want from it.

I asked a few friends and family members if they loved themselves and I got answers all across the board. "probably not." "sometimes." "I think so." "yes." "no." "I try to." "I've never thought about it." And these answers aren't surprising to me. Like I said we all have different ideas of what self-love is.

Further than all of this, if I do not love myself, I am giving people reason to believe I am not worthy of being loved. And I'll be damned....

“The minute you learn to love yourself, you would not wanna be anyone else.”
— Rihanna

I challenge anyone to decide what their definition of self-love is and to decide if you actually love yourself. If you aren't sure or feel that you do not then I hope that you find a place love self-forgiveness and acceptance and eventually learn to love yourself. I promise it will change your life. And again, the overall idea of loving yourself is not about being arrogant, selfish, egotistical, or narcissistic. 

Stay lit and go love yourself.

- Lackwhen.

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