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I used to think I’d love my body when it was more muscular, thinner, taller, curvier. I would look in the mirror and trace my hands over my skin, find fault in the creases, the blemishes, the scars, the imperfections that seemed to reflect so loudly back at me. There would always be an excuse, a reason, an explanation as to why I wasn’t good enough. And I would speak lies to myself, so much so, that no matter what I did, or wore, or ate, or didn’t, I’d still feel incomplete somehow.
I’d still look at myself and see all that I wanted to change, rather than all I already was.
And I was miserable. Because it felt like I was always trying, but never reaching. Always adapting, but never quite right. I was so focused on all that I wasn’t that I failed to see the good in myself—all the ways I’d grown and bloomed and created a home out of the body I’d been born in.
Instead of appreciating myself for being messy and complicated and uniquely me, I was searching for perfection. I didn’t understand the truth about self-love, that it is a beautiful fight.
It’s fighting to see yourself as worthy, even when you’re constantly told that you’re not good enough. It’s fighting to appreciate who you’ve become, while still making goals to reach towards. It’s fighting to find your place in a world that’s so focused on the material, the fake, the desirable, the ‘perfect.’ It’s fighting to accept yourself, but not settling or becoming selfish. It’s fighting to find a healthy balance between listening to the world and listening to your heart.
It’s knowing you’re not going to be flawless, but you don’t have to spend the entirety of your life focusing on your faults first.
And once I accepted this, I realized I was going about the process all wrong. I saw self-love as this destination. Once I had a, b, and c, then I would finally be the woman I was meant to be, would finally look in the mirror and smile. My concept of self was defined by everything external, by everything material, by everything superficial—and I completely neglected my inner thoughts, my heart, my emotion, which is the driving force behind any self-love journey.
Once I realized that I wasn’t going to reach this perfect place of acceptance, but that I would constantly fight against the world, against the media, against my former and future selves, against my mind—I found that I was actually doing just fine.
I didn’t need to look in the mirror and see my blemishes before my beauty. I didn’t need to surround myself with people and things that told me to change. I didn’t need to reach for this place of absolute approval, or perfection, or wholeness, or joy, over every little piece of me because I am forever changing and evolving and becoming new versions of myself.
And I don’t have to apologize for that.
Self-love, I’ve learned, is not seeing yourself as this perfect, blame-free entity. But it’s also not shaking your head at reflection every time you stumble across a mirror. Self-love is not about reaching for something that’s unrealistic, but it’s also not settling for a ho-hum version of you, either.
Self-love is not this place you reach where everything goes right, feels good, and makes sense. And you don’t ‘find’ self-love when you have the ‘ideal’ body or life or mindset.
You have to battle for self-love. You have to push back against your enemies and the negative voices in your head. You have to work to keep your heart and mind focused on your potential, even when you fall short. And you have to keep fighting—against and for yourself.
Because self-love is not a fixed point, it’s a journey.