This year, unbeknownst to me, God signed me up for a life class in Loving Myself. God's funny like that, He has you enrolled in activities and lessons long before you realize you're in them. Many times you find out you're in them when everything comes crashing down around you. If everything around you feels like it's being destroyed, keep an eye out. It may just be the start of a new class.
Anyway, last February, right after my world went poof and crumbled into pieces, my best friend texted me an image (she's a quiet motivator, that sneaky girl). Those words are above, but let's write it out here, shall we? Great: "The fact that someone else loves you, doesn't rescue you from the project of loving yourself."
That's some good shit, right? And potentially very obvious to some of you, but it wasn't to me. I have this love that is bigger than me, and it seemingly seemed to fill me up fully because it's just so freaking big. I never knew what to do with it, I'm really little and it is much, much bigger than me. And I guess, in a way, loving this person so much allowed me to trick myself into thinking I was loving myself just as much. Spoiler alert: nope. Wasn't. Not even close. It's incredible to have someone love you. But when you don't also love yourself in that gigantic kind of way, it's painful. It creates thoughts like: Why should they love me if I don't? Why does this person love me? When will they find out I'm not worth loving? How long before they leave? That's an ugly place to live, friends. And it's even worse to feel that massive love from another person, to know how much they love you, and not be able to accept it. That is a post for another time, but I will say that two people who love each other so, so much, who both do not love themselves fully, is a really fascinating thing to experience. It's also worth saying that the more I love myself, the bigger my love grows for that person, when I thought it would be the opposite. Turns out, when you think you can't possibly love someone more, you actually can. And that begins with you.
So how do we start? What does loving yourself look like? I know it's not a one-size-fits-all thing but I can tell you that loving myself looks like this:
It's the act of tugging on workout clothes, lacing up my sneakers, and going for a run despite feeling like I'll never really be a runner, that I'm out of shape, and that this is stupid. It's going anyway.
It's allowing myself to sleep in when I need to and loving that my career and lifestyle support that, instead of feeling guilty.
It's making a fresh juice even though cleaning the juicer is sometimes very annoying. And I'd rather have a donut.
It's brushing my teeth at night even though I'm really cozy in my bed already. It's that sigh that comes with plopping my feet on the floor and grabbing my toothbrush.
It's using under eye cream when it, too, is so very far out of reach from my sweet, sweet bed. And doing all the other things that are involved with literally taking care of your self, your being.
It's saying no to plans that don't feel right. It's saying no to people that don't feel right. It's saying no to jobs that don't fit right.
It's cooking a meal for myself and feeling proud that I did it, instead of ordering or microwaving something.
It's about only saying yes to things I can actually commit to, which continues to be really hard for me to do.
Loving myself looks like forgiving myself when I don't do all or any or some of the things I've listed so far. (Sorry teeth, my bed is just so darn comfortable!)
Loving myself looks like talking out loud to myself, telling myself that I'm proud of me, saying "good job" literally out loud, in public, after I do something that's hard or scary or, shit, after just an every day thing because sometimes I need a lot of encouragement and if I'm not celebrating myself, who will?
It looks like dancing and singing in my room, in my kitchen, while on a run, because I love music and it fuels me.
It looks like being M.I.A. in the world on lots of days because building my love for myself, my confidence, and what I am working toward, sometimes takes more than I have, and I have nothing left over. It looks like still choosing to love myself when I do this.
It looks like accepting compliments, without thinking someone is lying, and letting people be nice to me without assuming they want something from me. It looks like being nice back instead of snarky or defensive. This is hard.
It looks like working on being myself instead of being what I know will get more followers, clients, or admirers. Being myself instead of creating a self to present to the world.
It looks like actually working toward my dreams, in a way where I know I'm worthy of them and will achieve them, with confidence. Instead of doing every other possible thing that mostly made me feel like I was sort of doing what I wanted, or would give me some sort of notoriety.
It looks like keeping an eye on what I read, listen to, or watch. This means ditching a lot of my favorite blogs because I realized I was constantly taking in words and images of women who are younger than me and seemingly "further ahead" in life, with husbands and babies and houses and yards. It's about realizing that I can't be in that place because I'm in my own place and it is fucking awesome (and it doesn't include changing diapers so, I mean..). Loving myself means being okay with getting there when and if I get there. End of story.
It looks like painting and reading, because I love painting and reading.
Loving myself looks like putting away the computer and the ipad and the iphone and spending time with the iperson that I am.
It looks like not taking into account what I think people might be thinking about me, and not taking anything personally when said or done to me. It looks like not guessing what someone wants and asking them instead, because guessing and thinking you know best for them can get real tiring and time-sucking, and mama is busy, okay? We do not have time for guessing other people's needs, friends.
Loving myself means looking at the things I assigned to my future, my "adult life", and recognizing that there is no "adult life" there is just life, and it's right now. If I think at some point I'll be the type of person who works out every day, then today is a fine day to start that. Going to church, and not getting totally trashed, and committed relationships, and stretching, and praying, and not eating crap, and taking in art, and doing the things that terrify me, and fully being present in the moment are not things to wait on and assume I'll master at some point because, like, don't people do that? No, it's about identifying and going after the things I want in my life right now. I will not wake up one day and have magically mastered any of those things, but I will if I practice them daily and start before I'm "ready" or before I feel old enough (I'll probably always feel like a little kid, so no point in waiting).
There's much more, as we all know. But these things stand out to me. I can vividly remember being absolutely certain that I loved myself, that my happiness was a totally inside job, that I really was going after what I wanted. No I wasn't, no it wasn't, no I wasn't. I'm sure these will continue to grow. I'm sure I'll look back at this time and think "shoot, you thought you knew something about happiness, you had no idea". And that's really beautiful, this growth that we get to experience.
So what about you? What does Loving Yourself look like to you? To help you get going, I've created 30 days worth of ways to Love Yourself. Play along by posting on your own blog or instagram account, and share the link here, or on my instagram. Use the hashtag #30LovingDays. Join in! xo