Operation Self Love
I’ve decided to completely love myself.
No, really. And, not like that.
I know you might be thinking, ‘Oh, here we go on the self love and self acceptance again.’ Because I have talked about it A LOT. I know. But this time it’s a little different.
I actually came up with this idea on Valentine’s Day, but it felt a little too cliché to post two weeks ago. After spending another Feb14th with my fabulous single self, I was thinking back on an old journal entry of mine that I stumbled upon at the beginning of the year. It was titled ’25 Before 25,’ and it was all about what I wanted to accomplish in my life before I turned 25. Some things on the list were checked off and others were not. But of the ones not completed, the most disappointing was #6: ‘Love myself completely.’
Do I hate myself? Nope. Have I gotten a whole lot closer to this goal in the last few years since I wrote it? You bet. But do I still have a ways to go if I’m being honest? Yes, and it’s going to be a long road. But this time I’m excited about it.
A few years ago, when I first moved to Chicago, I started ‘Project Be Nice‘ for myself. By this I mean, I made an effort to write in a bound notebook (like the one’s you practice cursive in) every single day for 60 days, telling myself all the good things I’d done and making sure I forgave myself when I slipped up. It really did help me work through some things, but I don’t think it was everything I needed.
Here’s the thing, saying kind words to yourself when you need them is easy. It really is. You know how when a friend is hurting, it suddenly becomes the simplest thing in the world to give her a hug and tell her how beautiful she is and how much of a jerk that guy must be? And how it’s so easy for her to do the same for you? Yeah, it’s kind of like that. If something awful happens, it’s easy to tell myself that I’m full of good qualities and that I need to just cut myself some slack and be nice.
But you know what? My really close friends and my family treat me a little differently. If I actually am acting like THAT girl, they hug me, and tell me they love, but yes, I am being her, and I should probably fix that. ASAP. If I screwed up at work, they’ll tell me that they know I work hard, but this time? I messed up. So instead of just being nice to myself this go around, I’m going to care about myself enough to use a little tough love too. I’m nice to people I don’t know all that well. Heck, I can even be nice to people I pretty much ignore. But those closest with me? I tell the truth, even if it isn’t always what they want to hear, but it’s done out of love.
So what does all of this tough love entail in my case? I am going to love myself right where I am, but that doesn’t mean I can’t push for improvements. I’m going to praise myself when I get all of those items on the to-do list done, but when I don’t, I’m going to be frank with myself and point out ways I could have maybe been a little more productive with my time (reading every blog on my blog roll and Googling last night’s Oscar winners maybe wasn’t that important). If I see a bad picture of myself while I’m going through Facebook (again, probably not productive), I’m going to remind myself that while yes, my eyes do look lovely in that picture (hey, I can be a little nice to myself in the process!), I probably haven’t been doing everything that I told myself I would. And same goes with skipping training. Yes, I do believe in listening to my body, but half the time when I say I feel burnt out, I’m really just a little tired and could easily push through. I need to remind myself of that.
So guess what? The excuses my family or best friends would raise an eyebrow at — or the ones I would give them a ‘really, now?’ for — aren’t going to work anymore. It’s not because I want to pick myself apart, but because I want to make myself the best that I can be in all areas of my life. And the other part of this is that I’m going to get the love I need from ME, not from an outside source, especially not one of the male persuasion. I’m not getting all man-hater on you, but I think I’ve being going about self love the wrong way. For years I’ve said, ‘If you can’t love yourself, it’s going to be pretty hard for someone else to,’ thinking that once me, myself, and I were on good terms, Prince Charming would come along and we’d live happily ever after. But now I know that loving myself has merit on its own — not because it’s a means to an end. I want to love myself just to love myself, not to make someone else love me too. That, my friends, is just going to happen when it’s supposed to.
I’m writing in another Penway composition notebook every day to keep tabs on how Operation Self Love is going. So far, so good, but we’re only about two weeks in. I’ll let you know. But what do you think? Does self love involve a little tough love? Or, for you, is it more about self acceptance right where you are? Are you having a love affair with you? Or are you still working on it like me? How did you get there or how are you getting there? Tell me! Spill!