Self-Love: Planting The Seed To See What Blooms

Black woman self love
Originally posted on '83 to Infinity

Don’t you love personal revelations? That delicious moment when it feels like the fog clears, and sitting right there is a magnificent idea or confirmation of something awakening within you?

I recently had one such moment. This past Monday, I joined in on the Hot n Holistic Spreecast show with awesome special guest Dyana Valentine. The topic of the hour was timely for the beginning of the new year – making your goals stick in 2013. We talked all things resolutions, being realistic, dreaming big, finding a supportive circle and much, much more – but one poignant piece was when we discussed the role that self-love plays in the process of achieving our goals.

The importance of self-love is something that has never been lost on me, but it was something that I (until recently) could only really pinpoint in others. I’ve known people whose self-deprecating jokes poorly masked a deep-set self-hatred. I’ve had friends who struggled with self-worth and esteem due to personal trauma. I’ve encountered people whose self-love was palpable – it illuminated them without even the faintest sense of arrogance or self-centerdness. I can’t count how many times I’ve had conversations over wine with loved ones and used some variation of the phrase “you can’t fully love someone else until YOU love yourself” – but I’ve only recently turned the concept inward and assessed my own levels of self-love.

Insecurities, deep-rooted hurts, and confusing the positives of self-love with the negatives of selfishness all held me back in various ways. There have been moments when I’ve felt lower than low, and couldn’t find a thing about myself to celebrate or be proud of. Then, there have been times when I’ve said “Yeah, _______ is nice, but _______ is terrible!” when comparing aspects of myself. Then finally, there have been instances when I’ve felt damn good about myself, but second-guessed my self-love and turned the dial down so as to remain humble. I never wanted to come across as being full of myself.

Being full of yourself is an interesting idea. We make it sound so negative, don’t we? However, a wise woman by the name of Nikki Giovanni once wrote:

…And he said: you pretty full of yourself ain’t chu.
So she replied: show me someone not full of Herself and I’ll show you a hungry person.

Dyana Valentine said, “there’s something very sensual about this time” in regards to the newfound love of self she’s acquired. She admitted that she hasn’t been “a good girlfriend” to herself lately, and once that started to shift, so many other things did too. Those two points hit me sqaure in the chest, and when I came back across Giovanni’s quote on my Facebook profile, the deal was sealed. I think I’m good at loving the people in my life – but I don’t think I’m that great at loving myself. It’s time for that ship to sail.

(Want to see the entire Spreecast show? Click here! You can see Dyana’s comments about self-love at around the 39-minute mark.)

I feel that a lot of things have been churning below the surface, and now these things are bubbling up and telling me it’s time to step into that self-love, sensuality, and fullness of self. I’m inching closer and closer to 30, which everyone says is the decade of self-actualization and the beginning of not giving a damn what people have to say. I’m starting to really recognize my gifts and strengths, and I don’t want to wait until it’s too late to appreciate and revel in them. And to be honest, I’ve grown weary of the alternative – feeling bad about myself, feeling empty, and feeling low on worth and value.

I’m finally reconciling my thoughts on my previously held negative connotations of self-love: self-centerdness, showing off, arrogance, and the like. What I’ve come to realize is that for me, those negatives all center around the notion of forcing what I believe about myself onto others. Self-love is not about the brash exhibition of what makes you great. Self-love has nothing to do with anyone except you – the only effect it has on others is when they feel your self-assured, confident spirit and know that they’re not playing with a pushover. Self-love doesn’t take away from your ability to love and care for others – in fact, I believe it affords you an abundance of sincere love and support to mirror onto those in your circle. Without self-love, I found myself in relationships, friendships, and other situations which were not healthy, but I put up with them for one reason or another. With self-love, there isn’t room to put up with anything less than what you deserve, because you know what you deserve. Being full of yourself doesn’t mean you have no room for anyone else in your heart – it means you are living in healthy appreciation of who you are as a unique being. At least, that’s how I see it, and that’s the ride I want to be on for the rest of my life.

Self-love, like almost anything else, is a journey. It’s taken me a while to get to this point of realization, and it’s going to take time to fully immerse myself in the concept. I’m sure things along the way will challenge and test it, but I believe that if I can at least plant the seed now, I will always have the root of self-love within me – regardless of how hard the wind tries to blow the leaves off the tree. Making that decision to plant that seed and settle that root will likely be one of the best decisions I’ve made in a while, and I can’t wait to see what blooms.

'83 to Infinity is a For Harriet content partner. Visit the blog and follow Bee on Twitter.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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