The journey to loving oneself is as wide and deep as the sea. Every day we arise and attempt to fill our lives with acts of love. My first attempt at loving myself took place during my preteen years. I have no idea where this knowledge came from, probably it was from an episode of Oprah. My gait was usually slouched with my eyes learning the cracks in the ground under my feet. My goal was to make myself smaller every day, to disappear. The pavement and I were constant companions. My head always down as if gravity had decided to not only keep my feet close to earth's surface but my eyes as well. I can still remember some of the sidewalks that I passed on my way to and from school, I knew these places all too well.
The First Step
Somewhere in my young mind, I realized that this posture actually made me more visible than I wanted. I understood that my self-esteem was on display simply by the way I carried myself. I surmised that I needed to change my posture, I needed to change the aura that I exhibited. It was not easy at first, I remember the fear I felt at raising my head, steady eyes, forward gaze, back straight. My mind raced with doubt and anxiety but I had finally done it. Every day I would lean into this new step and the accomplishment I felt as this small victory sustained me as I entered my teens.
My Teenage Years
However, my road to acceptance had only just begun. I was never the girl that had many male admirers and if I did, most of them were older, creepy men who saw my puberty filled breasts more than my face. My entire teenage life was spent never having one crush reciprocate my feelings. Looking back, some probably didn’t know about my affections as I was horrible at this whole boy-girl interaction. Still, my mind could not understand how a boy never once came to me as more than a friend.
My life was surrounded by sisters, cousins and friends who I watched in fascination trying to understand their science. Where did all their male admirers come from? Did they have a secret closet that they kept them all in to pull out when needed? I just came to the conclusion that I did not have that factor that allowed one to be seen by males. I knew I was smart, but I seriously doubted if I was pretty. So one day I decided to simply stop looking for male attention to validate my beauty, brains or attractiveness. I remember after another Oprah episode I came to the conclusion that this was my face and body in that moment and there was nothing I could do about it.
The Second Decision
I made a decision to finally fill myself with confidence and self-love. I don’t think I had ever stopped to look at my face and truly see myself until then. So every day in the mirror I would take some time to really see me. I started with my eyes, I always wondered how others fail to see the life that exists in another person's eyes. Maybe we're too busy looking at their nose or lips, never really making full eye contact. I know for sure that the eyes are truly the window to the soul. Every morning as I gazed into my own, I would see my story. I would see my doubts and pain. But in my reflection, I also saw a girl peeking out, one who was learning to love herself and this warmed my heart. After my eyes, I would trace my nose and follow the outline of my lips. I would look at my cheekbones and admire their shape and size. I would touch my hair and enjoy its texture, kink and coil. These moments didn’t linger on, nor did they happen daily. But for a couple minutes, a few days a week, I would look into my face and tell myself I AM BEAUTIFUL.
The Hard Work
I wish I could say this cured me and I never doubted or compared myself to another woman in my life, but that would be a lie. My love life is still full of tumbleweeds. Eighty-eight percent of the time I don’t mind at all. I have basically made peace with it and accepted the rhythm of my love life. Except for once every month when the chemistry of my body actually starts to look for a mate to procreate and I go into the WHY AM I ALONE?!and I WANT ICE CREAM AND FOOD phase. But I am aware of that madness *cough* I mean biology and remind myself that outside of this time, I am happy being single and still don’t need to be validation by men.
Today, even though my confidence in my beauty, intelligence and my overall persona has risen much higher than the days of my youth, I still take some time to remind myself of my worth. That no matter the makeup or hair change, this is my face, these are my eyes, nose, mouth, teeth, smile, these are my thighs, my belly, breasts and my butt. I recognize the intelligence, wit, laughter and smile that mold my beauty from the inside out. Sometimes it gets hard but I try to remember to love me just as I am at every point in my life. Through the pain and the tears, the desire for more happiness and the wish for less anguish. During heartbreak with the loves that were and the lessons that came. Today I look forward to the future, trusting in the love that will be and the loving that exists now. I surrender my walk, my strengths and weaknesses paved the path of self- love. While the journey to loving myself has gotten a bit easier in my 30’s, I know that this act of self-admiration must be done occasionally. At times the little girl with the slouched shoulder would whisper her thanks for the work done and I would smile back at her with all the love I can muster.