We talk so often about practicing self-love, which I believe is the greatest gift we can give ourselves. But if we’re being real (which we always are here) loving any person, all the time, including ourselves, is hard. Sometimes, you can’t. Sometimes you’re not equipped to love yourself that deeply at the drop of the hat. Loving yourself that deeply in every moment is exhausting. Sometimes, it’s enough to simply like ourselves.
Let’s start there.
Let’s start with thinking about our best qualities, and projecting that energy out into the world. Because I’ll tell you something. I am OVER the mindset that we are all supposed to sort of hate ourselves, using qualifiers to sheepishly admit our few redeeming qualities. Let’s start with finding reasons from within to be confident instead of looking to others for validation and acceptance. Let’s look in the mirror and let go of that one glaring flaw in favor of appreciating all the things the universe got right in assembling us.
And in the name of not being the BIGGEST high and mighty hypocrite ever, I’m happy to admit that there are ABSOLUTELY things I don’t like about myself. Gobs of things. Insecurities that used to cripple me. I could probably write a blog post about those things, too, but the older I get the less those things matter. Sure, they sneak up from time to time. I once spent so long obsessing in the mirror over a pesky pimple that my roommate stopped me mid-rant and said, “Hey, stop being so mean to my friend.”
So today, we’re going to practice being nice to ourselves.
We’re going to sing our own praises for a hot sec.
Deep breath. I’ll start. And I hope you follow.
I like my eyes. They’re green with little yellow flecks in them. Last weekend a man at a bar looked straight into them and asked, “So how do you get people’s attention? I bet it’s those big green eyes of yours!”
I pointed to my temple.
“Your mind?” He asked.
Not because I liked his attention, but because I liked my answer. I like my mind. I like that it’s mine. I like that I know how to use it.
So I like my always-tired eyes. I like my always-messy hair. They are signs that I am working hard to create end products that I feel proud of. Often that means sleepless nights and rushed departures. I like my adventurous spirit. That I say yes more than I say no these days. I like my willingness to return to a city that still holds so much of me captive. I like my readiness to return home when I know it’s what my soul needs. Right now, anyway.
I like my endearing clumsiness. My outward silliness. My inconvenient spilli-ness. My brazen independence. I like that they pour out of me like an overflowing coffee pot left unattended. I like the juxtaposition of my dry irreverence, inherited from my father, and my ability to feel so very deeply, inherited from my mother. Those qualities have turned me into the kind of woman who finds humor in the darkest hours and compassion for the most tortured souls.
I like that I recognize my brother’s face every time I look in the mirror, because I spent the first half of my life trying to be a son and a daughter to compensate for my family’s loss.
I like that I failed at that. I actually fail at a lot of things.
I like that I am only capable of being the daughter that I am.
I like that I am only capable of being the woman that I am.
I like my freckles. I like the birthmark on my stomach. I like the intimate details of my body that only I, along with a chosen few, will ever know. I like my slender fingers that always longed to play piano, but found a pen and paper first. I like my flat feet that always begged to fit into pointe shoes but found high tops first.
I like my long legs. They took years to grow into, enduring names like “Spider-Legs” and “Gumby.” They have taken me to Australia three times, the UK, and Ireland. I like my full lips. I like my lone dimple. I like my dark eyebrows. I like my small breasts, and my small butt. Everything on me is generally small. That’s just the way I was built. It has nothing to do with being a “real” woman, or a “strong” woman. These are the parts I was given and it’s taken 28 years to understand the full magnitude of what it means to have all of them all in working order.
I’m not “just” a woman. I’m a woman. Period. Pun intended.
A woman who unflinchingly likes who she is becoming.
You see, we are in a critical time where the next leader of our country may very well be a broken man whose only self confidence comes in the form of tearing women down by calling us pigs and slobs, by attacking the way our bodies look and function, and by criticizing the way we choose to use them. But it won’t just be that one man. Nothing will ever come down to just one man. In fact, it won’t just be men at all. It will be people. People who haven’t yet found things to like about themselves. They will bare their ugly traits to you as a way to bring yours to the surface. They will come clawing at the bottom of your door first thing in the morning like a starving, stray cat. Your downfall will be their milk.
So I beg you, in those moments especially, to take to the street, the mountain, and the sea with the things you like about yourself. Take to a notebook, or a white board, or a word doc. Grab a permanent marker or a can of spray paint. Find the nearest building with the biggest, blankest wall. Make it a statement. Make it indelible. Make it on purpose. Have the courage to stand firm in liking yourself in a crowd of people who are trying to make you doubt yourself. Shine your self-like on them like a spotlight and maybe they, too, will find their own light. Maybe not.
But if you ask me, the most audacious thing you can be is a woman who truly, truly likes herself.
So like yourself, babe. Audaciously.