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On practicing self love

Valentine’s day is tomorrow, so I have to make a post about love, obviously. Love can come from pets, family, friends, romantic partners, mother earth, whatever. But the only type of love that you can guarantee for yourself at all times is self love. I know I’m not the only person out there focusing their V-day content on self love, and I am a sucker for all types of love, but loving yourself unconditionally is a very strong foundation for all of the other things I talk about on this platform for the other 364 days of the year, so that’s where I’ve decided I’m going with this. Be forewarned that this post will probably be a little aggressive and swear-y, because society is constantly teaching us to hate ourselves and that really pushes my buttons.

I love myself. I think I’m the best thing since sliced bread. I am my favorite person, with Bennett and every cat that’s ever existed tied at a close second. I make sure that I have time for 8 hours of sleep every night because that is important to me and I deserve nothing less. Why would you deprive someone you love of something that is good for them? I constantly stand up for myself at work even if I’m always met with a “no”, because I know that I am worth more than what I am given, I deserve more respect than I get, and I have value as a person. I treat my body with love, feeding it (mostly) healthy food, working out, and loving the absolute shit out of my stretch marks, dark circles, and small boobs. I’m not kidding, I genuinely love my stretch marks. Why the fuck wouldn’t I? Because women in magazines and on Instagram don’t have stretch marks? Yes they do. They absolutely do. Everyone does. And my small boobs? They don’t cause me back pain. And my sports bras cost $20 instead of $70.

Loving yourself means wanting to treat yourself the absolute best you can. Accept no disrespect, and don’t let ANYONE waste your time. Practice mindfulness, healthy eating, and good sleep hygiene because you love yourself and it makes you feel good. Really, why wouldn’t you love yourself? Because society teaches us not to? FUCK SOCIETY. Do not listen to it. Shut it out, block people on Instagram who make you feel like shit about yourself, and follow people who are out there loving their whole self. Decide on your own definition of self love. And DO NOT LISTEN TO SOCIETY. You are kind. You are caring, you are loving, and you are doing your best. I know, based merely on the fact that you are reading this, that you are trying. You are moving forward. It’s okay if your best isn’t the same as someone else’s best. You aren’t them. There is no reason to be them. Whatever you’re doing right now, it is your best, even if all that means is you got out of bed and ate a bowl of cereal today. If that’s your best, then fuck it, you did your best. And if you aren’t kind, caring and loving, but you’d like to be, decide now to cultivate those traits in yourself. Grow them inside yourself like a field of wildflowers. And if that field of wildflowers suffers through a drought and dies, that’s fine. Try again. Be patient with yourself. Water the flowers, feed them regularly and one day you’ll look out and realize that you are surrounded by endless flowers, stretching all the way out to the horizon.

Treat yourself the way you’d treat a puppy. Sometimes, puppies fuck up. They get into the garbage and leave shredded tissues everywhere. They get too excited and pee on the floor. But they’re doing their best. There’s a lot to learn in this world and it takes a while to figure out how to be a good boy, but this doesn't make the puppy any less deserving of love. You are like a puppy. Life throws a lot of shit at us, and sometimes we do our best to handle a situation and it doesn’t come out right. But you tried. You are getting through life. And that alone makes you deserving of love, especially from yourself.

Learning to love yourself isn’t easy. You’ve likely been taught for years that you aren’t good enough. You aren’t smart enough, or aren’t pretty enough, or strong enough, or whatever. That’s all bullshit. What does “not pretty enough” even mean? That’s a nonsense statement. “Pretty” is an inherently subjective word. That’s like deciding a Georgia O’Keefe isn’t worthy of love because it “isn’t rugged enough”. The only person who gets to decide what pretty means is you, and if you’ve decided, because your definition of beauty is the one society pushed on you, that you somehow “aren’t pretty enough”, it’s time for a new definition of pretty. Reject society’s ideals. Did anyone consult you when we decided that huge asses and skinny noses were “pretty”? Nope. They didn’t. Take that power back. Decide that your curly hair and your dark circles are beautiful because you said so. Own them. Confidence is sexy. Decide on your own personal set of ideals. Value kindness, compassion, critical thinking, intuition. Place value on the traits that you already have. Self love doesn’t come from changing yourself to become worthy of love, it comes from changing your views on what lovable means.

Love your flaws as well. You can absolutely have flaws, acknowledge them, and be working to change them while loving yourself. You can even have flaws, not be doing anything about them, and love yourself. Remember the puppy? The puppy is deserving of absolute adoration, flaws and all. I have tons of flaws. I find myself making excuses every time my fiance asks me to clean something. I am working towards making fewer excuses, rather than automatically responding with them. This doesn’t make me unworthy of love. Nothing makes me unworthy of love. Look at yourself with rose colored glasses. All those people you see as “perfect”? You’re already looking at them through rose colored glasses. They have flaws, but we are intentionally oblivious to them. Give yourself the same kindness.

What does real self love look like in practice? Self love means using your evenings to work on your side hustle because your real job can go fuck itself. Self love means treating yourself to a piece of chocolate every night because you want it. Self love means never letting anyone waste a second of your time. Your time is your most valuable resource and it belongs to no one but you. Self love means loving others. Self love means forgiving for your sake, not for theirs, but only when you feel ready to. Self love is drinking enough water, and too much of whatever your favorite drink is. Self love is filling your apartment with plants, or movie posters, or lava lamps, or whatever else brings you deep and genuine joy to look at. Self love is different for everyone, but at its core, self love means treating yourself with kindness and care, looking out for yourself first, and wholeheartedly believing that you’re a wonderful person.

And sometimes, loving yourself may mean booking an appointment with a therapist, or taking antidepressants. If you find it hard to love yourself, seek help. That action alone is an act of self love. There is no shame in it. In fact, there is pride in standing up for yourself and admitting that sometimes, you need help. We all do sometimes. Any step you take toward treating yourself better, or improving your mental health, or getting what is rightfully yours is an act of self love. And in a society that wants nothing more than for us to hate ourselves, self love is a defiant, rebellious act. Embrace it. Take no shit. You are fucking amazing, whether you believe it right now or not. You are full of potential, so be the storm that waters your field of wildflowers and know that one day, you will bloom.

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