I’m only (almost) 21 years old and have a lot to learn about love yet so take what you will from what I say. It doesn’t matter to me if it sounds serious or experienced because the fact is it’s not.
Something I have learned recently, however, and am still constantly learning, is how to love myself. See, I never believed the saying “before anyone can love you you must first love yourself”. I thought it was utter bullshit actually. I thought, “How can anyone ever love me then? Because I will never love myself. Isn’t loving yourself vain and selfish and petty?”
The answer is no. Absolutely no. Loving yourself is not petty and vain because loving yourself is not believing you are perfect and without fault. It’s loving yourself despite your flaws. It’s working on those bits and pieces you don’t love, and differentiating the ones that can and should be changed, and the ones that can’t be changed. And then it’s learning to love those little imperfections anyway. It’s loving yourself on your best days, when you feel great and happy and blessed and utterly in love with life. And it’s loving yourself on the days you don’t want to or feel like you can’t. On the dark days where every little negative thought you’ve had or that has been said to you eats you alive. It’s fighting back those negative thoughts and reminding yourself you deserve love anyway.
Learn to love yourself in the way you want others to love you. Or rather, learn to accept that others won’t love you the same way you want them to. Give yourself the love you so desperately crave from others. Tell the thought “no one will ever love me” to fuck off, and love yourself instead. Stop searching for others to give you the specific reasons of why you are worthy of love, and give them to yourself. If you are waiting from validation from another person about a specific reason to love you, you know the reason already, so they don’t need to confirm it. So when you finally accept the reasons you are lovable, people will say them without prompting. And you won’t feel validated, but instead truly loved.
Love the good things about yourself. Love your pretty smile and your fashion sense and your talents and your virtues. Love yourself, but be humble in accepting compliments. Don’t usher them away but accept them with grace. Don’t take them for granted. Know that just because you have these good qualities and are loved because of them, it does not make you God. Yes you are lovable, but so is everyone else.
Love your imperfections, but not your vices. Work on improving your bad habits, but remind yourself that no one is perfect, and your demons don’t make you despicable. They make you human. Stop striving for perfection, it is not achievable. Instead be constant, and love who you are daily.
I do not love my mental illness. I love that I am fighting it and working on myself despite it. I do not love my tendency to become irritable or want to control others. I love that I can recognize these faults, and apologize to those I hurt. These are things that I can change, and I love that I can.
I don’t love my long toes, or my upturned nose, or the facial hair I constantly have to remove. But I’m learning to. Because these are things that maybe I could change, but I do not need to. Because they do not make me bad. Learn to accept the things about yourself that society says you shouldn’t.
I love my weird laugh. I love my way of looking at the world. I love my eyes. I love my strange interests. I love that I believe I can change the world.
And I don’t need you to anymore.