When was the last time you met a person and thought to yourself “Wow they really love themselves? They take care of themselves, and it’s obvious they’re happy, and they make everyone else happy too.” As I grow older, I find myself thinking that less and less. I see more miserable people than happy people, I see more frumpy women than put together women, I see fewer smiles and love than ever before. I see detached people shying away from happiness lost in a world that won’t ever be happy for them.
I don’t want to end up like this. I have finally decided I will not let the world make me cold, detached, frumpy and pained. I will be whole, and I will love myself and everyone else in my life because the truth is I don’t think people give or get enough love these days.
By love I don’t mean romance, I mean genuinely caring for someone else, helping them create a happy moment even if it’s just for one minute. I will not turn out like most of the people I know, because I am better than that.
I have been practicing self-love since I moved to New England and practicing caring for others. My mom always says being able to take care of someone else is a gift, I’ve revised this statement, it’s true, but I think caring for yourself is just as much of a gift that most people do not acquire till they are older. Caring for yourself is just as important as caring for others.
How can you possibly love someone else if you can’t even love yourself? How do you expect to care for a friend, a boyfriend or a child if you do not care for yourself? Most days I believe our world is corrupted, I see more bad than good. But there are rare moments when I give myself so deeply to someone, and they return that connection, that’s what keeps me going. It may be for a year or two or just a fleeting second, but those deep connections when I can stare into someone else’s eyes and genuinely smile is what I live for.
A few things I do to love myself:
1. I sit and listen to myself breathe. Once upon a time (and still occasionally) I would get panic attacks and curl up in a ball and repeatedly check my heartbeat to make sure I was alive, I would listen to myself breathe to make sure I wasn’t dying. This was not self-love this was stress and anxiety. Now I sit in the morning and thank some higher power that I’m still alive. I listen to my heartbeat, and I’m thankful for it, I listen to my deep breaths and feel every cell in my body waking up with each sip of coffee.
2. I take long hot showers in the mornings. I let the water pour down me and wash off yesterday. In my mind, it’s a way to start fresh. It’s a way to give every day a new chance to be the best.
3. I let go of my past and write goals for my future. Every day I say goodbye to something that has pained me. I acknowledge that it hurt, and let it go. I write one thing I want to accomplish by the end of the day even if it’s as simple as painting my toes.
4. I take care of myself. I brush my hair, put on earrings, and try my damn best to look put together even though I am anything but.
5. I sit on my porch before I go to work. I think it’s important we all are outside for a few minutes every day. We always work inside, workout inside, read inside. But when was the last time you just sat outside and watched all the animals in your yard?
6. I make time for myself. On my days off I will go get my nails and hair done because that’s what I like to do. I go to a bookstore and pick out an overpriced booked that ill finish in an hour. I’ll go sit and have tea somewhere enjoying my alone time.
7. I will invite a friend over for movie time. There is something so appealing being in someone else’s presence and not feeling pressured to do anything. I think society makes us believe we should always be doing something fun and outrageous, but I am 100% good curling up on the couch with my hair up watching some show I won’t watch any other time.
8. I smile at myself and give myself one compliment each day. Even if I look like a bum, there is something good about me. Sometimes it’s as simple as “My braids turned out perfect today.” Then I try to smile at someone else and give them a compliment too, but only when I mean it. A fake smile or a compliment that is not genuine is entirely pointless, and everyone can tell you don’t mean it.
I think people confuse self-love with vanity or being obsessed with yourself when it’s anything but. When we learn to love ourselves, we can be real with others and share pieces of our lives. I’m trying to be more open, meet new friends, and accept them as they are. I’m not always good at this, but I am growing and learning.