I get told quite often that I’m a confident person. That this spirit about me permeates, with those that I talk to, mentor, advise and work with. I only think to myself how far I’ve come. How blessed I am to actually walk in self-love and confidence about the woman I am, the places I’m going and embracing the struggle that birthed me. The struggle that made me. The struggle that built me. I write to you an experienced woman of self-hate. An experienced woman who has allowed what I’ve done, been through and experienced to suffocate me. It takes a while to grow out of that space, but my God, when you do, Queen. . . . .
I’ve been told–If you look at your reflection in the mirror and are not fond of what you see, the first thing you should ask yourself isn’t Why? As in why you don’t like what you see? But the first thing you ask yourself is What?, as in what are you going to do about it?
I asked my 19 year old self both. I feel now I should’ve only asked what I was going to do about it, but the why helped me to figure out how to go about doing what I was going to do… here I was young, educated, beautiful, undeniably blessed & certain about everything, but myself. I was unhappy and allowed the way other people felt about me to determine how I felt about myself. In all my smarts, I was ignorant. Ignorant of how much I meant to the most important person in my life, God. I didn’t know him, and I didn’t like who I was. One could argue that I didn’t like who I was, because I didn’t know him. I agree.
I thought, for months, what I could do, post or say to honor myself on my birthday… this is what came to mind. Again, a way to help others, by sharing pieces of myself. I think it’s safe to safe, that whenever I think about how to do something well for me, it includes other people’s happiness and healing…. I trust that this then, is my calling. In honor of the day I was born, I share with you, How I learned to like ME. . . .I find too, that this post is timely… over the past few weeks I’ve had conversations with the women around me about their journey to positive self-esteem, many of them are still walking that journey and working to become the woman they like… I hope me sharing this, helps them to see themselves, not only as beautifully as I see them, but as perfectly as God does…
Back on Track
I have to be honest and admit that I didn’t like myself because I didn’t know myself, either. I didn’t know just how cool I was. I spent most of my time learning other people and pleasing them. I could tell you everything about them: what they liked, didn’t like, what set them off, what made them smile, what made them cry, what urked their nerves and what made their soul quake. But when it came to myself, I had yet discovered why sometimes I cried at night, when I was alone. I didn’t know why I preferred to be on my own rather than with people I actually liked. I was unaware of what drove me bonkers and what really made me smile. I had yet to find my happy and inside I was suffering. Suffering because I hadn’t learned to like me. I hadn’t learned to appreciate the dimples in my cheek, the wrinkles that cover my fingers, the dark features that fill my face. I hadn’t learned to love the thin and smooth build of my legs, the almond shape of my eye, or the thick kink to my hair.
What surprises most is that my lack of self-love had nothing to do with what I had or had not been taught. I was Mommy’s princess and Daddy’s diamond. I was showered with love and praise and quite spoiled actually. I had gotten my way, just about all of my childhood. I was always being covered with kisses and wrapped in hugs. I was told how beautiful I was by someone just about every day of my life. and I believed that…. so what happened? Between my nine year old, self-titled perfection and my confused thirteen year old mind and my emotionally distressed nineteen year old self?
Truth is, I allowed the people around me to define who I was to them and in essence, who I was as a person and how I viewed myself. Interestingly enough, the people around me, liked me. Well now that I consider it, it’s not interesting at all. Their needs were being met. I did what they told me to, said what they wanted me to. They even believed that I liked being me. Think with me, what could be more fulfilling than taking care of other people and being sweet? What could be better than being liked by the people around you? Well I’ll tell you, liking yourself is far more important than being liked by others. It is through liking, loving and developing ourselves that we are empowered to be the people we were purposed to be. I speak this, as a testimony.
I learned to like myself and it changed me. It changed my life, it changed my perspective, it changed who and what I allowed to mesh with my aura. I learned that I like being alone, not because I don’t like people, but because I love spending time with myself. I love how creative I can be, how simplistic but creative my thoughts are and I am completely in love with the life that God has trusted me to live. I like the silence alone time offers. The reflexivity and how free I can be, to be me. In all my quirks, all my awesomeness, silly-ways. Off-beat, make-up free, hair untamed. Happy. This potential, these dreams, the goal-setting and the goal-executing, they all help to make me the woman that I am proud to be. Liking myself taught me to love myself and to trust the one who manufactured me. My Pastor always says, “You don’t go to a Honda dealer, and ask questions about your Porsche 911” . It is by liking me that I learned just how precious I was. How necessary my ideas are to the world and just how much I have to offer…God saw a need, for me to be made. I am quite emotional, so in talking to those that are having a hard time liking and loving themselves, I cry. Thinking about the times I looked at myself and didn’t favor my reflection. Thinking about the times I allowed other people to take advantage of me. Thinking about the times I lowered myself and my own esteem, to make other people comfortable or happy. It hurts. Almost as much as self-hate does. I share stories of my own journey, hoping to reach them where they are and show them, there truly is light, at the end of the tunnel.
Learning to love myself, helped me to grow to accept the imperfections about my life and the family I am a member of. I’ve learned to appreciate the history of my life, though rough, though painful, it was also filled with love and growth and encouragement. I am blessed. That blessedness isn’t determined by money, by status, by experience or opportunity. It is a simple, stand-alone fact. That looks different for many of us and that is OKAY! In fact it is that very history that impacted this journey.
As children we are often times taught that we’re special. That we matter and that we should be proud to be unique. We are taught that we can be whatever we want and that we can have whatever we want. We are taught that all people are different and to treat others, the way we want to be treated– well, some of us–Donald T. Does NOT count (LBVS) ! As we get older those same messages are not being advertised often enough and if they are, we’ve grown deaf and blind to them.
Someone tells us that we can’t do something and we believe it. Someone criticizes our difference and we adopt their beliefs. Someone teases us about the kink of our curl or the slim of our legs or the width of our bodies. We’re told we’re too small, too big, too brown, or too shapely and we start to internalize messages that we are not good enough. That we are less than. It is the single, BIGGEST mistake that we as Queen | King beings can make. We cannot expect other people to understand, accept, admire, adore and or appreciate every thing about us, especially if we don’t ourselves. We also cannot and should not, spend our precious time trying to convince them of our truths.
I believe that Beyonce is everything good to the majority of the world. The majority of the people in this world like her; her albums, her looks, her talents. Her album sales and gross income attest to this. Why? Because she believes she is worthy, if she doesn’t, she does a damn good job of walking like it, talking like it, dancing like it, singing like it, living like it and achieving like it. We have gifts too. We have to trust God and the abilities that he’s given to us, and make good on our purpose. We’ve got to learn to like and love ourselves, and when we do, the best is yet to come. Everything we need to be Beyonce- great, we already have within ourselves. Everything we need to achieve the highest heights of success–we already have!
For my BIRTHDAY wish (Yes, I still get a WISH) I pray that those who read this post, learn to speak well of themselves. I wish that everyone would create a daily affirmation of wellness and use it as a tool of empowerment… see the example below and share yours with me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org You can speak greatness into your own life. Don’t wait for someone else to do it. Wake up each day, look yourself in the mirror and speak it:
I am beautiful. I am unique and I am flawed, but I am here. I am trying, I can overcome whatever is holding me back and I will do the best that I can. I am going to achieve my dreams and trust God in the process of doing so. He is in me, and I cannot fail. I am not perfect, but my imperfections make me perfect for me.Regardless of how other people feel about me, I am loved. I am worthy. I deserve good things. I am not where I used to be and that alone is a testimony to the goodness and grace of God. He loved me enough to give himself and I owe it to him to try. If I give good to the world, it will come back to me. I will protect my energy from evil. I will appreciate myself more than others ever can. I will get to know me and grow comfortable with how I feel about myself. I will treat myself to the things I enjoy. I will take more time to intentionally work on and for, me. I will surround myself with physical, mental and emotional good. I am, the daughter (or son) of the king. (AGAIN) I am beautiful, I am unique, I am flawed. I am loved. I am worthy. I deserve good things.
My pastor always says, “It’s not what they call you. It’s what you answer to.” The people who shaped my self-perception haven’t stopped judging, mislabeling and taunting me. But I chose to stop answering, and each time, I get better, at getting better.
We all battle with something. The moment we open ourselves up to our own truths and stop searching for and trying to tell the truth’s of others, we get a peace that cannot be bought, taught or taken. Be faithful to God and good to yourself, and watch good things come to you…..
In peace & love of self,