Based on some damning evidence provided by human beings themselves, I would earnestly describe us as a generation of ‘self-lovers’, but this comes in many forms and fashions, and can either be a good or bad thing. Nowadays it is almost second nature for us to pick up our phone and take as many self portrait photos as possible, but these pictures only tell half of the story. A thousand pictures could indicate this person either loves or loathes who they are. Even before the birth of the infamous ‘Selfie’, now officially a word in the oxford dictionary, there has always been a focus on loving oneself for oneself. However, the number of selfies in your camera roll is not a clear indication that you well and truly know how to love yourself.
Malcolm Forbes said that “Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.” So many men & women bask in the glow of the self they feel has the most worth but completely disregard the beautiful soul they are, beyond the social media profile and the persona they have formed.
“To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance” – Oscar Wilde
Self-love is more than just a goodwill feeling. It is not derived from a healthy relationship, a great job, a mac makeover or a fresh haircut, true self-love is in spite of all those things. To love you is to embrace you. It is to take a look in the mirror and love the man or woman on display. In essence, it is to come to the realisation that you are worth much more than the estimation you’ve been given.
“Self-love is a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological and spiritual growth”
– Deborah Khoshaba
Loving yourself is a life-long therapy. It involves the whole you and nothing less. It takes every part of your heart, mind and soul to learn that you are special, regardless of what those around you may think or say.
I was born with a condition known as ‘Albinism’. In a nutshell, I significantly lack pigmentation in my skin. In layman’s terms, I resemble a bottle of full fat milk, although both my parents are both black and exquisitely dark in complexion. My condition also means I’m partially sighted. My skin is ‘abnormal’ to most people who see me, and without a doubt people always tend to take a second look.
Growing up was somewhat tough, as my childhood conversations ranged from “what colour are you?” To “why in the world do you look like that?”, needless to say I was very confused about who I truly was. I was constantly bullied for being different, and unfortunately I never had a discussion with anyone including my parents as to why I looked the way I did. Day and night I would ask myself why I was born with such a condition, this caused me to act like someone complete different to who I actually was. To my friends I was known as a show-off but that was only because I wanted to take the focus off my skin. Frankly, I didn’t love myself in the slightest, and I completely detested the skin I had been given.
Eventually, the thoughts of suicide arose, which I battled on a regular basis, while “showing face” and keeping up with appearances. Although, my family loved me very much, I had no clue how to love myself due to my abnormality, and as the years went by I found it even harder to love myself and in turn I created a sort of self-hate in the process. It is very difficult to love yourself when you’ve been told for most of your childhood life that you are not worth loving because of the complexion of your skin.
Thankfully, because of my faith in God, and some serious self-evaluation, I woke up from the nightmare. I stopped beating myself up because of something I had no power to change. I learned to love me even though others went out of their way to do the total opposite.
“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.”
– Harvey Fierstein
The issue that I and many men and women face even till this very day is that we are constantly being told ‘you are not worth love’. Whether you are an unarmed black male, a Syrian refugee or an individual born “different”, our race, colour or facial features somehow becomes the determining factor to whether we merit love and acceptance.
So how does one overcome such a cycle if they recognise they lack the ability to self-love?
Knowing your worth is the first and hardest step you have to take. To know your worth is to know your value, to know your value is to realise you are not an accident, mistake or inconvenience. You are wonderfully made, uniquely formed and divinely created. The only way you can achieve such a feat is to embrace self, without the assistance of another.
Once you know your worth then you have to be confident with the estimation. It will be null in void if you cannot be sure about who you know yourself to be. This is an integral step as no one can provide the confidence you need except yourself. This particular confidence helps you realise you’re not a piece of meat or an item on the shelf of a bargain bin. It is telling self that you are priceless.
Love your own damn company. Spend time doing things you enjoy. Whether it be Gym, going to a football match, a spa day or volunteering for your favourite charity, do the things that bring you healthy joy and happiness.
Enclasp your faults and failures. A majority of the time we hide our mistakes because we’re afraid of the response, especially when you are reminded of your past misfortunes. However, learn to leave the past where it belongs, in the past. This will entail forgiveness, taking responsibility, not punishing yourself, growing and ultimately turning our transgressions into lessons learned to help guide and shape our future.
One of the most important steps is being patient with yourself. Love is a process in its entirety, therefore, you can’t self-love without coming to the revelation that you are a work in process. Take every day as an opportunity to do and be better. You must be willing to bear with yourself as this is a journey, a long one.
“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.”
– Mark Twain
It must be said that self-love isn’t a reason to not aspire to be better. Your desires & passions should only motivate you not discourage. My longing for a full-fledged beard like my Caucasian best friend or a chiseled 6-pack like my personal trainer is admirable (while also comical), however, it should not come at the expense of the need to love everything about yourself. You have to learn the difference between jealousy and genuine aspirations. One brings negativity, while the other draws you to positive change.
We are regularly told by the media and it’s propaganda that we must shape our looks based on the celebrities that have been placed on a pedestal, because according to them, only then can we be happy, but who says that you can’t be your own standard. Herein lies the crux, to set your own goal posts and not allow others to do it for you.
Self-love is about maintaining a healthy representation of who you are. It’s soul surgery at its finest. It chips away at the things you don’t need and preserves the things that are integral to your wellbeing. It is never too late to start your pilgrimage on the way to freedom. Start today and love yourself, the way you deserve.
WRITTEN by db