“The greatest lie ever told about love, is that it sets you free.”
― Zadie Smith, On Beauty
We spend the most part of our life looking for love, asserting it, giving it to others; at times even explaining it to those around us. For as long as I can remember I’ve been focused on it, motivated by it. Looking for validation in all the wrong places. In achievement or compliance. In being what the people around me expected me to be, or the sitting within the restrictions I had set for myself.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how I look I look at love, especially the love I give to myself. As I’ve grown closer to the woman I see myself becoming, the notion of self love practice has changed. I still buy overpriced candles and face masks, and drink G&T’s in the name of self care but, I’ve realised self love is also; owning your actions, taking up space and putting in real work.
I think the danger of romanticising self love as a trend, is we smooth out all the edges. We’ve convinced ourselves that accepting our flaws is the same thing as allowing ourselve to repeat toxic behaviour. Sometimes we think our faulty habits are the same thing as our natural traits.
Rather than leaning into our emotions and shortcomings, considering why we get jealous, why we can’t stick to our healthy lifestyle or continue to leave our assessments to the last minute. We call it character, post a black and white selfie about it, find a quote that encourages it. Loving yourself isn’t delusion, it’s critical thinking.
self love is awareness in every decision we make, in anything that we do. It is making choices that fulfil but also sustain. It is taking care of ourselves for the right now and the here after.
Ask yourself what your self care routine actually includes. Ask yourself would you practice self love if you weren’t able to post your practice on a platform. Is self love a privilege? For those who have a following, girls who have hundreds of people encouraging them and empowering them through likes and comments.
When you’re validated, and flattered almost anything can feel like it’s worth your time. What about the practices that are uncomfortable, that have you in your first gym class in months scared shitless. That have you walking into headspace. That cut people off, loved ones you didn’t want to hurt. Would you post about that self love?
We need to refine the language around this process, it’s not always taking yourself to coffee and buying new flowers. The self love I’ve learned to practice this year is ugly and it hurts and I have to remind myself it’s going to get much worse before I feel any better.
Love is also; Accountability. Holding those around us to a standard, that we expect for our future selves. It’s putting our hand up and admitting we haven’t been working toward that standard either. It’s therapy and loneliness and being stretched and shoved and secluded.
Understanding the theory of self love is not that same as living it, projecting it and experiencing it every day. It’s all encompassing, synonymous with self actualisation and self loathing, because without one you can’t possibly arrive at the other. Love is really tough. It’s long term, in it’s impact no matter how short term you believe it to be. Love is a deliberate act, not just a feeling.