Recently I’ve been doing some soul searching. You know, trying to find myself, whatever that means/entails. I’d always heard the phrase “you have to love yourself first” or some form of that and I’d always think to myself “I mean, I don’t hate myself but I guess I’m okay” or something along those lines. I thought that was the same thing. As long as I didn’t hate myself I was good to go. Then I heard the song Stubborn Love by the Lumineers and I was forever changed. Not by the song in its entirety, but one small phrase from it: the opposite of love is indifference. And that’s when I knew that I didn’t really love myself. Sure, I didn’t completely despise who I was but I was indifferent which might as well be the same thing as hate because it sure as hell isn’t love.
Love- whether it be romantic, friendship, or self- should never be associated with the word indifference. And that was just it, I was indifferent to myself. What a terrible thing to be I very soon realized. It’s the same as being lukewarm. Name me one thing that is best lukewarm. Sure, there are certain things that it’s okay to be indifferent about like cows or a book you’ve never read. But self love is never anything you should be indifferent about.
Self love is the most important (in my opinion) love there is. I’m sure you’ve all heard the quote “you must love yourself in order to love another” blah blah blah which whatever, it’s true, I guess in a way. I think some people are able to love themselves through a relationship with another person, I however turned out not to be one of those people. I came to find out that the reason none of my relationships have worked out before, besides the fact that they just weren’t “meant to be,” was because I didn’t love myself and every little part of me. If I didn’t love myself how could I expect someone to really love me and put up with me? I couldn’t.
There’s a lot that goes into growing up. I’ve learned that it’s not one of those things where you just wake up one day and wham bam thank you Peg you’re a grownup. Nah, not at all. There’s waaaaay more involved than just a real job or a graduation or your own place. I mean, it is about those things, but more importantly it is about the changes within you (sorry for being cheesy). In order to grow up you have to experience some sort of loss. Your heart has to be broken. I’m talking shattered in pieces that feel like they are scattered all over the world and you’ll never be able to find them again. You have to accept responsibility for who you are and everything you’ve done- whether it be good or bad. And most importantly you have to learn to love yourself through all of that.
I think one of the most important things I’ve learned recently is that I shouldn’t try and change or hide any parts of myself. I mean obviously, we should all try to be less selfish and more caring, but we shouldn’t try to change or hide the parts of ourselves that can’t really be changed because they are just that; a part of ourselves. For awhile I thought that I was hitting rock bottom due to my depression and anxiety. That had something to do with it, but it was more of the fact that I was trying to hide those things about myself and was scared to admit to myself that no matter how dark and twisty those things are, they are still part of who I am.
I recently finished a book called Succulent Wild Woman by SARK (I recommend this to each and every person). The author is a big supporter of self love and accepting and embracing those things that you think make you a lesser person instead of just hating them and trying to hide them. And trust me, she’s onto something. While yes, I do suffer from depression I accept that. I can’t hate it or try and change it because that would be like hating or trying to change how long my thumb is or something. It’s impossible (actually I’m sure there’s some way you can change the length of your thumb) and also not worth the effort.
I watched a movie last night called “Lola Versus” and at the end of it her ex-fiance tells her that he’s had his space and realizes he actually wants her and basically tries to get her back (douche). And she pretty much told him she was flattered but she was seeing someone and that person was herself. That’s exactly how I’ve felt the past couple of month. I’m in a relationship with myself and I have absolutely no desire to be “someone else’s.” Instead, I’m more concerned with improving my relationships with my friends and family, making new friends and just having fun. Lola also made the comment that she believes you have to love other people before you can actually love yourself and I have to agree with her. I don’t mean love other people as in a significant other or something, I mean just have the capacity to love and feel that love. Like when I see one of my best friends I’m immediately overcome with love, when I’m sitting at work at 9 p.m. at night because I wanted to finish a story and my editor comes in to work on some stuff as well and we have a conversation about Lord of the Rings, I am overcome with love for my life, when I’m driving with the windows rolled down and my favorite song comes on, I am overcome with love for everything. And when I’m laying in my bed at night almost falling asleep and my dog is keeping my feet warm, I am overcome with love for myself.
I know this was incredibly sentimental and everything else but I have a lot of feelings (Mean Girls reference haters). The poem “Masks” by Shel Silverstein comes to mind when I think about hiding and not loving parts of yourself that you don’t particularly like.
She had blue skin,
And so did he.
He kept it hid
And so did she.
They searched for blue
Their whole life through,
Then passed right by-
And never knew.
There’s also a difference between love and like. I don’t necessarily like my brother and sister all the time but I do love them all the time. That’s how we should love ourselves. Just because you’re getting on your own nerves doesn’t mean you have to wage a full on hate war with your “flaws.”
So here’s to loving yourself- even the parts of you that you know suck.