Thinking about what it means to love yourself is a big undertaking.
By definition, self love means:
regard for one’s own well-being and happiness (chiefly considered as a desirable rather than narcissistic characteristic).
Lately I’ve found myself teetering on a balance beam between loving myself and being selfish.
Is what I’m doing to practice self love becoming too much about me and less about other people? Am I becoming too selfish by putting myself first instead of being selfless?
But then I look back at the definition of self love which was conveniently followed by a quote I saw on Instagram from Boss Babe:
“Currently creating the woman I want to be. Excuse me if I become extremely protective of myself, my time, and energy.” – Boss Babe
That’s when it hit me. A quality considered to be desirable rather than narcissistic. A position I put myself in because I wanted to reshape the woman I was into the woman I wanted to be.
I had to start thinking about ways in which I have been teaching myself to genuinely love myself.
Just because I have been putting myself first doesn’t mean that I wasn’t caring for others. On the contrary:
By telling others that they come first, it only reiterates that I come last.
In what universe is that ok? Because it’s not.
It’s been 2 years since I was first diagnosed with an eating disorder. It’s been 12 years since I was first diagnosed with depression. It’s been 5 months since I was reassessed for bipolar disorder.
These last several months have been some of the most difficult, trying, vulnerable, and exciting months of my life. You’d think that spending a year traveling around the world would have been, and they definitely still are some of the greatest moments of my life.
But there is something different about learning to love myself.
By learning to love myself, I am now capable of loving life.
Not to say that I didn’t love life before, but when you don’t feel like your true authentic self, when you don’t feel like you have the ability to love the body, mind, and soul of the being of which you are, it makes living a lot more dull, colorless, flavorless.
I spent so much time worrying about the well being of other people and stopped caring about myself. That’s the helper in me. But if I don’t help myself, how on earth could I ever expect to help the ones I love? How could I ever expect to help causes that are important to me or to continue thriving in my creative spirit to help others who are going through similar experiences?
The best kind of love, is self love.
It makes me experience the world through a much more beautiful lens.
I love my curves. I love my raspy laugh. I love my freckles. I love my creativity. I love my sporadic need to do a million things at once because life is just too darn precious to waste. I love my motherly instincts with Luna. I love the way I love my partner. I love my messed up toenails from too much hiking. I love my voluminous hair. I love the way I write. I love my ability to adapt. I love that I do what I want, when I want, for as long or as short as I want. I love that I decided to stay in Colorado. I love that I bake and am not always great at it. I love that I fail so I can get up with that much more strength.
I guess what I’m saying is, I love me.
And I don’t feel selfish in the slightest.
Neither should you.
Meet the Author
Hey, I’m Lauren Dow. Author, advocate, and feeler of the big feels. I’m here to provide a safe space to normalize the conversation about mental health and reinforce self-love. Thanks for joining me on this wild ride.