About 2-3 years ago, when I was in the prime of my early 20s, all I ever heard or told myself was that I needed to love myself before I could expect someone else to love me. Maybe, just maybe, there is some truth in it, but right now, I see it as a short-sighted way of thinking.
That’s not to say I’m generally trashing the idea of self-love and care being instrumental in a healthy relationship, but if I had the love to give to myself, why am I aggressively looking for someone to show me it’s possible? I mean, I do not always have the answers, so here I am!
Self-care is basically the actions and practices we engage in to maintain our physical, emotional, and mental well-being. This can include things like exercise, eating well, getting enough sleep, and engaging in self-reflection and mindfulness. Self-care is essential for maintaining a healthy relationship with ourselves.
"Self-love" is our positive self-image and self-acceptance. It involves recognizing and accepting one's own qualities, strengths, and limitations and treating oneself with kindness, compassion, and respect. When individuals practice self-love, they are better able to communicate their needs, boundaries, and feelings effectively, which can prevent misunderstandings and conflicts in relationships.
To break it down in a fairy tale world that I and some of you who are reading this may not have access to, people who engage in self-care are highly likely to have the energy and mental clarity to handle the stress and challenges that being in a relationship comes with. If someone has mental clarity and can handle stress, they are usually the ones who are positive in situations and can find joy in unusual circumstances.
Actually, I think self-care is easily achievable. I can decide to make a schedule and set an alarm for each activity that counts as a form of self-care.
On the other hand, self-love sounds like a big reach if you grew up in an African environment.
Take me as an example: from a very young age, all I saw when I looked in the mirror was a skinny girl with a big head, big eyes, and pouty lips that stood out. In school and at home, I remember being teased about some of my physical characteristics. Most times, everyone sees it as a big joke, and you’ll get over it. After all, it’s being done to everyone. Then you hit 18 and realize, "I hate these things; I didn’t really grow to like them."
Then the comparison begins... You’ll try to find ways to look like other people or just blend into the walls to avoid being seen. People will only notice if they see you, right? Fast forward to your early twenties, and you can't really hide anymore; they seem to be compliments now, but you still don't know what to do with them because, when you look in the mirror, you still see yourself in primary school being teased about your appearance.
Yes, people go through all this and more and still come out confident, able to respect themselves, and with a positive self-image. One thing some people forget is that mental capacity differs from one person to the next. What someone can handle will kill another person.
The question I’ve been building up to is, in a situation where someone’s self-worth was trashed into bits from childhood to the teenage years, how do they suddenly conjure up these amazingly positive feelings for themselves? Does their inability to do that mean they do not deserve to be loved by a mentally healthy or stable person?
I met someone who is expressive and vocal about their feelings for me, and it made all the difference. They changed my outlook on this topic because, in reality, the people you surround yourself with play an integral role in your self-care and love journey. If you're surrounded by people who are always pointing out your flaws and never praise you for anything, it's difficult to believe that you have a positive image of yourself.
Maybe it’s the romantic in me speaking, but what if some people are the ones supposed to take us on our self-love journey? What if that relationship that comes at your lowest moment is what will pull you out of the abyss you’re wallowing in?
As always, I didn’t set out to change minds; this is an opinion piece, but if you’re on the "you don’t deserve love if you can’t give it to yourself" side, I hope you get off it. You deserve so much love, and I am sorry you’ve felt like you don’t deserve it just because you can’t find it in yourself.