Loving yourself is a hard thing to do…
As I reflect on the course of my life it is fairly easy to point out that my biggest struggle was my self esteem. Not surprising in a society where, in my youth, the images of beauty shown on TV consisted of thin, lighter skinned women with large breasts, large butts, and straight hair (usually a weave). And it didn’t help that rappers made it very clear, in both their music and videos, that a beautiful woman was one who had these qualities. Oh, and not to mention they should also be shorter women!
Having these kinds of messages did something major to me. They influenced me to think that my height was unattractive, my natural hair was unacceptable, my darker skin was unappealing, and my heavier preteen – teenage weight was definitely out of the question. In fact, I was nothing like the beautiful dance majors that I called peers and far from the gorgeous vocal or drama majors. I was “just” this tall, chubby, ponytail wearing, glasses having band major with absolutely NO sense of fashion.
And to add to this, my track record with boys always rendered me the shorter end of the stick. I can clearly remember specific instances where I wasn’t picked and felt like I was not good enough as I watched other girls get boyfriends. Instances like (please note that names will be changed to protect the identity of these persons) Shawn not liking me in 2nd grade; Reggie calling me a slut in 4th grade; Ben LITERALLY saying, “oh my god you’re so ugly I would never date you!” in 9th grade; and Ray Ray just not liking me at any point in high school (I liked him for a long time lol). It wasn’t until the past two years that I realized that these events deeply shaped how I saw myself and understood my worth.
My journey to loving myself began towards the end of my undergraduate career. I can remember looking around me and seeing most of my closest friends in relationships. And I thought to myself, what’s wrong with me? Why am I still single? Let’s be honest, everybody wants someone to validate them and show them that they matter, to show them that they are important, to prove that they are loved. But I realized that if I allowed other people to be the foundation on which my self esteem was built, then when that validation was no longer there, neither would my sense of worth. Building your identity on other people’s opinion of you is like building a house on sand. When the wind blows the house is unable to withstand its strength. And God forbid a storm comes! The house will crash to the ground! In the same way, if the people who validate you leave, then what would become of your sense of worth? Will it stand? Or will it come crashing down?
Thus, I began to pray, “Lord, help me to see myself the way YOU see me and to love myself the way YOU love me.” Was this easy? NO! But it was a journey worth taking. It began with having to address those instances I shared earlier and how they affected my thinking. And then I had to combat those lies with the truth of the Word of God. I also put into practice telling myself that I love me. At first I didn’t believe it. But eventually in this journey, January of 2015 to be exact, I was finally able to honestly say “I love myself!” And you know what? I love EVERYTHING that comes with being me!
TIP: Read Amy F. Davis Abdallah’s book, “The Book of Womanhood” because it DEFINITELY reinforced my understanding of who I am as a woman!