Self-love – two simple words but is the meaning just as simple?

It’s combining two beautiful complexities – you and love. They often say that if you don’t love yourself how do expect anyone else to love you and even if they could, how would you be able to receive the love you don’t even feel you deserve? So it’s clear that self-acceptance definitely plays a role in truly loving yourself, ultimately acknowledging that you are the only person who can validate your worth.

My experience

When I was in my early teens I didn’t quite understand that feelings about myself could fluctuate. One moment I felt so excited about who I was – and who I was becoming – then something happened and I would start to feel doubtful, I would compare myself to others and involuntarily begin to talk down on myself. My insecurities seemed to strengthen and multiply causing me to close in on myself eliminating room for any real growth. These thoughts eventually caused me to isolate myself from everyone excluding family, friends and even potential romantic partners.

It required a lot patience, something I didn’t initially have, so I had to learn to be patient in order to gain patience. I assumed that loving myself was a consistent feeling and because I didn’t always feel so great about myself, I started to question if I really knew what the words meant. I soon learned that as long as you keep trying, you are being consistent and bad days are inevitable.

It was interesting speaking to other people at that age when my insecurities began to overwhelm me. It helped me to gain perspective and immediately one thing came to my attention – we all knew what self-love meant to us…but feeling it, living it and adjusting our mind-sets to these thoughts in order for them to become a part of our lifestyle was the difficult. At 22 I am still just getting started.

I asked the same question to 10 boys and girls all in their mid-teens to gain their understanding of the topic. It hit me when they told me things like: “It means you like yourself and enjoy your own company,” and “You want the best for yourself,” a favourite of mine was: “It’s respect for yourself and seeing the beauty in yourself,” adding, “confidence, inner peace, liking the way you look and being proud of who you are,” and one of the most interesting responses that caught me off guard was: “It’s home.”

It made me wonder, if you can never really know someone until you’ve lived with them – do you ever really know who we are, until we’ve removed the baggage people tell about ourselves?

This questions that does not have a one answer, to become the best version of yourself, you must appreciate the individuality of your own personal journey and answer these questions yourself.

So what is self-love?

Well, it’s whatever you believe it to be.