By Danaé Reid
Alone in the dark and the ever – shrinking encasement that was really just my college apartment, I see myself crying oceans over a recent break up that in hindsight could not have been prevented.
The year was 2017, and I had just started my senior year of college: lost, alone, afraid, and completely lacking the sense of self that I’d thought I’d had. Feelings of emptiness monopolized my days and thoughts of loss accompanied it.
Aside from the loom and gloom that heartbreak often brings, I was also experiencing a pre-graduation depression that I didn’t expect, thus further catapulting me into the depths of despair and confusion.
Thoughts like, ‘Do I really love myself?’ crept up often, and now I know that the real answer was “no.”
The importance of self-love was never lost on me, and at the time, I genuinely believed that I’d had it However, I now understand that in order to authentically revel in an abundance of self-worth, one must not attach “worth” to external desirability.
My journey towards understanding what it means to really love thyself really began during that low period of my life and has been picked, prodded, and refined several times over the past three years, changing every time I go through a significant period of transition, pain, and growth.
It’s been a blessing to see constant transformation within myself, and I’m now at a point in my life where I can say with 100% certainty that my grasp on what love is (in all forms and in general) feels accurate and solid. How do I know? Because when people see me, regardless of familiarity, they can smell it on me. I’ve been asked several times what steps I took to finding a sense of wholeness, so I decided that I wanted to use this space to share my secrets:
1. Detaching yourself from the perspective of others. As a professional model and talk show host, this is imperative to my success. In the industry I’ve chosen, the “no’s” can be many and the “yes’s” can be few. Hearing an abundance of “no’s” can really assault a persons sense of self, so you have to be able to find what’s special in you, for you. I understand that this isn’t easy, but some of the steps I’ve taken to getting to this point are:
* Speaking affirmations to myself every day regardless of how good/bad I may not be feeling
* Journaling my frustrations
* Giving my low-vibrational moments a shelf-life of 24 hours or less
* Doing what my body tells me it needs.
* Understanding that every “no” is getting me closer to a “yes”
* And trusting that anything meant for me will not miss me, as God doesn’t make mistakes
2. Allowing myself to be myself, without fear of retribution. It’s so easy to water yourself down in the face of others, but why? We fear judgement so much that we allow ourselves to become a fraction of who we really are, and fear and love cannot operate in the same vicinity. I’ve always been outgoing, but only to the extent that it made others comfortable. Within the past 6 months, I’ve completely thrown that idea away and began to focus on what makes me feel whole. And what’s interesting is that most people respect you for being honest and true and comfortable within yourself.
3. Reading. I’ve read more this year than I have in a long while and have learned a great deal about myself through various texts, so this sort of goes hand in hand with #2. Learning about the world you inhibit and being able to see it through the eyes of others completely grooms your sense of life which then trickles down to your sense of self. (Relearning and unlearning is included in this).
4. Staring in the mirror. For the past year, every night after my shower, I look at myself in the mirror… Sometimes I’ll speak positive words, other times I’ll just smile and tell myself that I love me, and then sometimes I just stare at myself, figuring what I love most about me that day.
5. Limit your desires. The best way to feel whole is to realize that you are gift enough to and for yourself. We live in such a gluttonous and consumerist culture that we tend to cling to tangibles and others to make us happy when really, who we are is enough. It has to be.
6. Lastly, take care of yourself. I’ve adopted a “strict” daily routine for my mornings and my evenings and both have helped tremendously. I make sure that I’m drinking water throughout the day, eating food that makes me feel good and tastes good, getting fresh air, taking naps, and doing anything that I feel will make me feel happy and fulfilled. I’ve made it a practice to put my needs first and I always listen to myself, first and foremost.
The process to loving oneself is lengthy, and the work that must be done in order to reach self-fulfillment is far from easy, but certainly worth it. We’re all growing and changing everyday, and while no one fits the commercial definition of perfection, we can all grow in life, by growing in love.
Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, The Philadelphia Sunday SUN, the author’s organization, committee or other group or individual.