I had an unexpectedly amazing experience a couple weeks ago.
I will say it didn't start out so great. I basically was complaining to a friend, who happens to be male, about guys in general. I really wasn't feeling very attractive in any which way, and honestly just felt a little defeated in dealing with various child-like behaviors with the opposite sex. I've brought this up to him before, so I also felt like I was nagging in my complaining, but at this point, I really didn't care. And, I just kind of let it out.
And, instead of coming to the defense of the male species and giving me a speech about the workings of a guy's psyche, my friend looked at me and said the following: "You're like a princess. You're gorgeous, intelligent, and fragile, but you're also very strong, even though you don't fully know it. You're going to make someone incredibly happy one day."
Um... I'm sorry. What? Was the first thing I managed to sputter out and say. His reaction took me back by such surprise that I didn't know how to react. I just bashfully thanked him and looked super awkward like I always do when I receive compliments. And then, went on my way in a sort of daze.
And, after much thought I realized something. This is something that I've attracted into my life. And it's a good thing. For a couple of years now I've really been working on loving myself. It might sound cliche, but I've found it to be really important. Because sometimes we, especially women, give so much of ourselves away to the point of self-neglect. Not only does society encourage self-doubt and undermined confidence (self effacing remarks in my experience are more often better received than self-loving ones) but we're also encouraged to live for other people. Whether it's for our parents, our family, our children, our friends, or significant others.
Now, don't get me wrong. There's a difference between self-love and just plain self-centeredness or narcissism. As the amazing Jen Sincero (author of the amazing book You Are A Badass) said, "[We're] not talking about conceit or narcissism, because those things also come from fear and a lack of self-love. I'm talking about a deep connection with our highest selves, and an unshakable ability to forgive our lowest. I'm talking about loving ourselves enough to let go of guilt, resentment, and criticism and embrace compassion, joy, and gratitude." Like, the real deal.
I also believe serving others is a part of the reason for our existence. We don't exist just for our own selves. I do believe that giving back in whatever way you're meant to whether it's inspiring people through the art of cinema, joining the peace corps, or doing people's taxes so they're not abducted by the government, is our responsibility as human beings.
But, there's an important factor in this that seems all too often overlooked. And that's taking care of and learning to fulfill one's self first. Only when you are completely whole can you truly give back to others. And, you need to learn to take care of yourself, monitoring, refocusing, and making sure your energy wells are full. There's this great video where Jada Pinkett Smith speaks about motherhood, and just womanhood in general, and she puts it so eloquently. It's a video I want to show all women, all people, really.
I read this somewhere, too: treat yourself and talk to yourself the way you would a best friend. Actively listen to how you speak to yourself in your head. And ask, "If I were to say that to another person, would they be my friend?" And when I found it hard to think about myself, or found myself constantly running low on energy because I was giving it all away, I started asking questions in the third person. I started thinking, "What does Ariel want to do right now?" Even in the little stuff "Ariel's really thirsty right now, are you going to let her go all the way home like that, or are you going to stop, get a bottle of water and hydrate her?" and so on.
I've been working on this for a while now. I still catch myself putting others needs way before my own. Even people who aren't really close to me. But, when you start thinking about taking care of yourself, that's when you start to choose, attract, and/or keep the right people around you. Those who help you take care of yourself because you do the same for them. The people who catch you disproportionately thinking too much about others, and make sure to bring it back to you. The people who know to stop and ask, "What do you want to do?" Starting the healthy give and take. The healthy relationships. It's a process. Change most of the time doesn't happen overnight.
But, the more I go down this path of self-love I've started to realize:
I am enough.
It started as an affirmation, now more than ever solidifying into a truth. Me, in of myself, am enough for good people, good things, good vibes, and blessings in my life. Me, my soul, my heart, my person is interesting enough and beautiful enough to make art, have something to say, act in movies, book jobs and fulfill my passion and my calling. Not because I'm better than anybody else, but because God made me my own unique person unlike any other person and that is something to be treasured. And, that goes for every other person, too. And, in learning to love yourself, you start learning to see the beauty and the uniqueness in others, flaws and all, and by doing so you, then learn to love others fully. It's a very important thing.
And that brings me back to my experience. When you learn to love yourself you then attract more love into your life. You attract people who value you like you value you. This then, of course, translates into romantic love, too. And, I realize that in love it's enough. I should be enough. No matter if for a while I'm feeling defeated, unattractive, or unappealing, even and especially then, for someone to come and say that I'm beautiful, that I'm a princess, to treasure me during those crucial times when I can't, that's what we should aim for, and nothing less.
This post is dedicated to the sister I never had and my best friend Vanessa. You taught me how to love myself and how to see the best in me. Always protecting me fiercely, and always believing in me even when I didn't have the faith to, you are an amazing human being. I can't express how much I appreciate your steadfast and enthusiastic support, even and especially when I told you this crazy idea of mine to start this blog. I hope you know I'm here for you, immovable, the way you're there for me. Thank you and I love you.