With Valentines Day now behind us, and an influx of social media stories now slowly approaching their 24-hour countdown- I wanted to have an honest conversation about love- not quite the romantic kind, but the “I choose to honour myself and my journey through an unapologetic commitment to self-love” kind.
It’s safe to say that as women, more specifically women of colour, we weren’t raised to love ourselves first. In fact, for many of us, we were raised to lay aside ourselves for the sake of others- from feeling the weight of being daughters to carrying the expectations or desires to wed and mother children simply because it is our duty to the world.
As women, self-love, in a world still unrefined, depicts us as selfish. And how deep is that ingrained into our own psyches that we often stumble at opportunities to show up for ourselves. So, since we are not used to sitting in the driver’s seats of our lives, it is uncomfortable advocating for ourselves in a world that benefits from us breaking our backs being bridges for others.
My own self-love journey has been a wild ride all on its own- a multi-ethnic, immigrant only daughter born out of wedlock to a 17-year-old mother and an abusive father- quite naturally the cluster of my identity made self-love quite hard to define or, even understand. I had more expectations sat on my shoulders than I could carry and slowly, I found myself neglecting my every being to appease the standards of others- and then, you add generations of trauma, cycles I knew had to end with me.
To pull myself out of the grave being dug for me- because it is my own opinion that, when you neglect your own becoming at the hands of everyone else’s opinions and expectations- it is much like the end of a life- I began to question my reasons behind my actions:
Why are you pursuing law when you, quite frankly, find it boring?
Why are you saying yes, when you really mean no?
Why are you comparing your behind the scenes with their highlight reel?
Why did all the Disney Princesses need saving?
Why are women constantly portrayed as damsels in distress?
The simple questions that sparked both chaos and calm in my life.
On this path of self-love, I have learned that until we begin to question every expectation, we will often accept them as normal and, subsequently subject ourselves to lives we truly do not desire. It takes courage to ask why, but it is necessary.
Self-love looks different to everyone, though I am a firm believer that it should always advocate for respect, boundaries, personal value and self-worth, kindness and freedom from abuse and oppression- from ourselves and others. So, here are a few questions to dig deep for your own why…
- What expectations are you carrying that need to be released?
- How are you giving yourself permission to show up as your most authentic self?
- Why do you do all that you do?
Committing to the forever journey of self-love takes courage- we see you, keep going.