“My daughter will know self-love, first.” I read these words aloud to myself in mid-scroll of my newsfeed – once, twice, and then a third time. By then these words had resonated with me so heavily that I immediately began promising them to myself. I know there are plenty of ways to toss this phrase around in a game of devil’s advocate, but the mere thought of ‘what a gift to give a child,’ regardless of what pronoun they use, just stuck with me. Something of the passing down, hereditarily, of a superpower. To learn to love one’s self innately before any up-ending contradiction to “love” arises in the form of a self-image connoisseur, ever prevalent in the media or from the lips of that first love, that just – “gets you,” is the strength to get back up and just keep being you. Now that it is Valentine’s Day, the nationally syndicated day of romanticism and Tinder meetups, I understand if all you hear is “blah, blah, blah – alone, alone, alone,” but hear me out for a second. Rather than cutting some serious life corners by thrusting all your eggs into some one else’s basket and hoping they are everything you want and need to feel ‘complete,’ instead imagine the eternal, internal bliss that exists in being whole all on your own.
I grew up rather unconventionally; unbeknownst to myself at the time, I was not the center of the universe. Granted, after I was mature enough to pull my head out of my own butt, that egocentrism evolved into a mature love for myself. This self-love could not be compromised by the people that consistently called me an “Oreo” for bearing a complexion as chocolate as my favorite Lindor truffles while also having the nerve to actually enunciate properly. This love cannot be stained by any of the insecurities of others that often spilled out haphazardly. My mother had carved me out of stone in an era of constant disarray with all the options saying to be anyone but yourself, and the pressure that builds can almost blow your lid off. It’s almost impossible to stand against it with just your two feet, but why not try it, if not to just say that you have? Though the rewards of autonomous love extend far beyond the depths of bucket list trades, you reap the benefits of self-sown freedom. You’ll love others more deeply and freely, and you’ll achieve goals you set without hazy clouds of doubt attempting to spell out “no” on your horizon. Most importantly, you will develop a relationship that all other subsequent relationships will emulate to populate your life with even more of the same love.
This Valentine’s Day, take a deep breath and repeat some sexy positive affirmations to yourself. Tell yourself with and without a mirror present, because when you say it you’ll know it comes from the heart and when some one else says it, possibly sneering with good old quality degradation and attempt to exploit any of the things that make you individually distinct, and you’ll laugh to yourself and warrant them no more attention than a fly on the wall would elicit. This I promise my own child will, because I will raise them to love them self beyond a need of any approval from the world.