Self love is a term, hashtag, statement growing increasingly popular in this day and age. The need to genuinely love yourself no matter what you look like, what you’ve been through, where you are, or anything else. Self love has its’ cheerleaders and great embraces and it also has its critics that self love makes you content with yourself instead of striving to be better. Here is what I say:
To me, self love has two folds. I only started truly loving myself the past few years, about I’d say 3ish. I picked apart every aspect of my body and would torture it through not eating, binges, and 8 mile runs. I’d be asked at the park if I was okay several times because I would run no matter the time, even noon on a hot summer’s day. My health didn’t matter. I’d sprain an ankle and fullheartedly know it right away, yet I’d sit down for about 5 mins and try to run on it again. Too much pain? I’ll give it a few sleeps then I’ll run 5 miles on it. Then repeat the process, until someone forces to me to seek help. Why would I avoid the doctor? Because they’d put a boot and restrictions on me which meant no exercise.
Long story short, I was not loving my body. I didn’t like how it looked and I drug it through hell. The second part of self love is loving who you are. 3 years ago I had no idea who I was. I was just beginning to figure that out. I had lived my life so consumed in numbers and self-loathing that I really never took a chance to be independent. I didn’t buy myself anything. I didn’t have any favorites or if I did I never thought of them. All I knew about myself was that I was extremely sad and not allowed to show it. And I knew I NEEDED my boyfriend at the time because he would be the only one who heard all my troubles. I loved him. I wasn’t relying on myself because I didn’t know who I was. I had been like this since a child. In elementary and early middle school, I used to steal from stores, people at school, etc. I used to curse loudly at people on my bus and be openly hateful about others. I didn’t have the greatest grades. I knew I was acting out because of my home and family life; luckily I changed this attitude by 8th grade…mostly.
Fast forward to now.
Part 1) I have been lifting weights since October of 2014. I had no idea what I was doing when I started and only had the help of my boyfriend. But I never gave up. Something clicked in me. The first time I walked into the gym, I failed at literally everything I tried to do. I had felt emotionally weak for quite sometime, but always strong when it came to athletics. It was here I realized how “weak” I was all around. So I dove into it. It didn’t start with me wanting to change my body. It was about being strong. A few month passed and I started to see the muscle development. I began to see my weight increase and my boyfriend’s friends being amazed that I was a lifter. I became obsessed with gaining muscle; in a healthy way. With each new muscle growth or appearance, I was overjoyed knowing I did this. I began to love my body, and got rid of cardio knowing it might hurt my muscle growth. I also began to eat and want to eat. I began drinking protein and fulfilling my body without worrying about calories. This is the first part of the self love to me. I was loving my body and treating it the way it should be treated. I was falling in love with my body. Does this mean I was content? No way. Self love does not mean never approving. I don’t go rip my muscles to shit because I want to stay the same. I want to grow as big as I can push myself and I don’t care anyone’s opinion on my physique because it is my own and I love it.
Part 2) In truth the year leading up to this change, I was becoming more independent. My boyfriend and I had gotten into a few arguments which sent me really thinking about what I am without him. I had put so much of my life into being “us,” not me. We had been together since 8th grade and we were now in the same college. I don’t really think people saw us as individuals, but as a couple. That sounds cute and all, but after a while, it isn’t. I needed to find my own way. I took 7 classes, had a job, and taught bible school my last semester to graduate half a year early with the top honors. I landed a job right away and created that part of my life. Then, two years later decided it wasn’t the career for me and completely changed career fields. Kind of my fault really, I only went into my major at college as the easy way out. I was afraid of failing and knew I would fail. I screwed myself.
When I made the career change was 6 months into working out. I began to feel more confident in my clothes, at any social function, just in my own shell. I became louder and more vibrant. I spoke my mind and told of who I was; it was well received. People started saying that they I was hilarious, infectious, strong, and inspirational. Who? Me? Never. I was myself and myself was good enough, more than good enough. And so, I began to love myself. This is self-love; loving who you are as a person. Can I be a better person? Hell yeah. I could have more patience, listen closer, reach out to others more, take a stronger stand on things I care about, smile more often, and be nicer. Everyone should strive to be a better person. You can still love who you are while wanting to be better.
Critics say how about the individuals who are morbidly obsess or have health issues due to being overweight or those on the opposite spectrum who love themselves who are underweight. Or how about the individuals who are cruel to others or doing other forms of substances that hurt themselves and others? Can’t they say they love themselves?
This is why self-love is 2 fold to me. If you are over or underweight, that doesn’t make you a bad person. You can still love yourself; however, if an individual is unhealthy and risking their life due to their weight , I think there are deeper issues going on that need to be addressed. If you are an ass and hurt other people or animals, you better not love yourself. If you do, again there is another issue to address.
Most importantly, I cannot stress this enough. Loving yourself does not mean that you are perfect. Self-love is loving yourself in spite of your flaws. I love myself even though I know my anxiety completely takes me away from life sometimes. I love myself even though sometimes my voice quakes and I struggle to have confidence. I love myself even though sometimes I have to be talked out of a deep hole of sadness I throw myself. I love me because I know I am stronger than my flaws. I am stronger than my imperfections and I know that those imperfections made me who I am today. And I Love that person.