DailyRi 014: Why Loving Myself Like I Do Is An Act of Resistance
I AM IN DEEP LOVE WITH MYSELF.
this is probably the first time i proclaim my self-love this proudly without worrying about whether i sound vain or narcissistic.
self love - i mean true self love - is not vanity.
true self love is humility. it is understanding myself deeply & intricately & deciding that i am going to love myself first - even & especially through the growth & changes. self love is giving myself those things i know i need, instead of relying on someone else to do that for me. & most importantly, self love is my way of honoring my creator, of recognizing that i’m here for a reason, it’s my way of promising to take gentle care of the blessings with which i’ve been showered.
so PLEASE DON’T TELL YOUR SISTERS, GIRLFRIENDS, COUSINS, MOTHERS, FRIENDS THAT “THEY LOVE THEMSELVES TOO MUCH.” OR ANY VARIATION OF THAT. please, JUST DON’T DO IT. I WISH MORE PEOPLE UNDERSTOOD HOW HARD IT IS FOR US TO LOVE OURSELVES.
FOR MANY OF US WOMEN OF COLOR, SELF LOVE IS AN ACT OF RESISTANCE.
last quarter, in my managing people/orgs class, my professor asked us to think of circumstances where having an inflated perception of our strengths & abilities is actually a good thing. i knew he was looking for a workplace answer, but i didn’t really care. i raised my hand right away & said that marginalized people, like women of color for example, can benefit from having an inflated belief in ourselves & our abilities because we are often combating a multitude of forces trying to put us down & tell us that we are incapable. i think he was kind of surprised by my response, but it’s true af.
in an ideal world, nobody would need to have an inflated sense of self because we would all see ourselves as god’s children who are uniquely positioned to do whatever big, super amazing, important things god has written for us. i’m not there yet, but i’m getting there. & while i was still learning to love & believe in myself, i think it’s completely reasonable to gracefully & peacefully resist society’s attacks on me & my community by having an unrealistically high level of belief in myself & what i’m capable of. this is not at all the same as vanity - it’s self preservation.
SELF LOVE MEANS I’M MY BIGGEST FAN & TOUGHEST CRITIC. I AM HYPERAWARE OF MY FLAWS, BUT heck, SO IS THE REST OF THE WORLD. SELF LOVE MEANS I CHOOSE TO SAY NICE THINGS ABOUT MYSELF, WHILE STILL HOLDING MYSELF ACCOUNTABLE TO BEING A BETTER PERSON EVERY DAY. MY SELF LOVE IS AS HUMBLE AS IT GETS.
several months ago, when i was in the thick of my self-love/self worth journey, a male friend told me that i had an inflated level of self-importance. the old me would have laughed it off & secretly took it to heart or worse, believed it. it immediately brought me back to a moment when a man i dated told me that “i thought too highly of myself” & at the time, the “accusation” made me ashamed of myself.
but not this time. like i said, this time, i was deep into my self love journey, & in the name of all things self love, i could not let that comment go by uncorrected. i looked at him & said “that’s not true.” at the time, i didn’t have the words to further defend myself, but i just knew in my heart that it was not true, & i said what i felt needed to be said. he immediately brushed it off & said he was joking.
I DIDN’T STOP THINKING ABOUT THAT MOMENT, THOUGH.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH THINKING HIGHLY OF MYSELF? WHAT IS WRONG WITH BELIEVING I AM IMPORTANT? IF I AM A CHILD OF GOD, I DON’T BELIEVE THAT ANY LEVEL OF IMPORTANCE ATTACHED TO THIS LIFE & THE IMPACT I AM TRYING TO CREATE IS “TOO MUCH” or “inflated.” I AM IMPORTANT insofar as god believes i am, & SO ARE YOU. there is nothing inflated about believing i’m here for a reason, & pouring my energy into living in that purpose.
in the months following that interaction, i was left wondering what could lead someone to be so offended by or intimidated by the way i love myself? after some reflection & observation of patterns that other women of color deal with, i came to this conclusion:
WOMEN OF COLOR WHO HAVE THE AUDACITY TO LOVE THEMSELVES FALL VICTIM OF BEING TOO ____________________.
fill in the blank, loves. we are too confident; too cocky; too self absorbed; too vain; too arrogant; too masculine; too loud; too bitchy. we’re just too much to handle.
why? well firstly, because people falsely assume we are here to be “handled” to begin with (* sips tea *), but also because people have it all wrong when it comes to self love. in society’s eyes, women are “humble” if we constantly apologize, downplay our strengths & act shy or insecure every here & there, otherwise we are too full of ourselves. & god forbid we dare to think nice things about ourselves.
in all honesty, those kinds of comments really hurt my feelings. not because i personally care about others’ opinions, but because i know men around the world are telling their sisters, mothers, cousins, girlfriends, wives toxic things like “you must think really highly of yourself, huh?” & i know how hard it is to decide to ignore those comments coming from loved ones. it sucks that my sisters who love themselves as they should will, at some point in their lives, have to accept that they are deeply misunderstood by the people they love.
when i have a baby girl one day, i will teach her all about self love. i will let her define it on her own terms. i will caution her of the dangerous forces that try to convince her that self love can be bought in the form of material items, that self love can be expressed by the amount of favorited selfies in her phone. i will give her all of my favorite books - from mastery of love, to wholeness, to the power of now, hoping that when she’s old enough, she’ll be inspired to read them, to live by them.
I WILL DO EVERYTHING IN MY POWER TO RAISE YOUNG WOMEN WHO KNOW THEIR POWER.
but that means nothing if her mother cannot lead by example. it means nothing. so the next time i find myself questioning whether my self love is necessary, i’ll remember those watching me.