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Self Self Love

I love writing letters and I love the slow burn of this back and forth way of communicating, but I’ve experienced a new slow burn with a question my pen pal recently asked of me:

What is your favorite way to show yourself self love?

Upon first scan, I read, What is your favorite way to show yourself love? 

Not much different, right? I kept looking at this phrase on my white board and getting stuck like it was a set of spot the difference photos. Finally, I realized it’s the difference between love and self love. 

Okay, I thought. Let’s tackle both. 

How do I show love for myself? The first thing I thought about is how when I wake up in the morning, I immediately drink an entire water bottle. It sounds so silly, but I like to think of this little morning routine as the jump start to a good day. Okay, what else? I make sure to move my body every day. I try to sleep well and cook healthy meals. 

I show myself love by getting rid of the clutter—mental, physical, and otherwise. I prioritize spending time with people who build me up. I’m mindful of who I give my energy to.

My checklist was making me feel pretty good. I definitely show myself love! 

But then I thought of the second question. How do I show myself self love? Which is to say, do I ever stop and give myself credit for all of the above? In the midst of a busy day, do I stop and appreciate the way I am managing my time? In the midst of a tough situation, do I remind myself that I’m doing my best? 

Eight years ago (8?!) I made up a writing experiment for myself that I called The Superhero Project. Each night for 31 days, I wrote a true account from something in my life but instead of saying, “I did this amazing thing,” I wrote “[OUR HERO] did this amazing thing.” At the end of the month, I read through the story, once as the unnamed hero and the second time as me, myself, and I. It sounds silly—and maybe even felt silly retreating to my room those nights to write about myself—but on that 31st day? I felt pretty proud. And I maybe even felt like I could love myself.

As I’ve been searching for months for the moral to pull out of this anecdote, I realize that perhaps my finicky writer brain has gotten hung up on the semantics of “love” and “self love” and that perhaps it really is just about radical acceptance of self… which is perhaps what love really is.

I love myself even when I am impatient. 

I love myself even when I get frustrated to the point of tears.

I love myself even when I don’t feel like I’m doing my best.

I love myself because I have to. Because it is mandatory. Because I will spend every day for the rest of my life waking up in my body and with my brain and if I don’t love every fiber of my being then what am I doing? 

And so just as I love the way drinking water in the morning makes my physical body feel, I will love the way my eyelids crinkle when I smile. Just like I love the way I have routines that put my mind at ease, I will love the way I cry at nearly every movie I watch. Just like I love my friends and family, I will love the boundaries I put into place to protect my peace from those who don’t have my best interest at heart. 

And so I will love. 

Oh, I’ll keep striving. But I will also wholly love this moment. I will love me with all I am. 


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