On A Self Love Journey

I’m really still not quite sure what self love really means.

I mean – for me I picture myself waking up every morning and not getting annoyed at the way my hair poofs up while I sleep. Drinking coffee on the sofa and not feeling annoyed at how my thighs look pressed against leather. Heading to yoga class feeling confident in a tank top and cut-off-your-body leggings.

But that can’t really be it – or at least, what I’ve learned over the past year or so would say otherwise.

I think I am supposed to love my hair – even on the days when I don’t wash it with the good conditioner. I don’t think I should have cried when I got home today from my lash refill after the esthetician had to pluck out most of my previous lashes that had gotten all tangled up – leaving me with a row of sparse, stubby falsies. (Don’t worry I am rolling my eyes at myself.) I should say “WHO CARES” to the way my arms look in a tank top at barre class.

But that’s only the body image. There’s also the way I’m really tough on myself with my self-worth. Always having to be doing and achieving. And there’s the way that I feel bad about taking time for myself or saying no. (Oh, that’s a big one.)

I guess what I’m saying is, this self love for me – it’s a multilayered journey. I almost picture it as a pillbox of sorts. All aspects of being at peace with yourself organized by day and color. In a lavender box is feeling at home in my body. A lime green holds the key to feeling confident in myself as a human “being” not a human “doing.” And maybe there’s a fuschia for me showing up for myself in my relationships. A sunshiney yellow for all the positive self talk I need to add to my days.

And just like someone who has been put on a very strict vitamin regime, I am aiming to tackle these components gently and patiently.

I’ve written a lot over the past couple of weeks about times of change being a time for internal change. With a change so literal as moving to a whole new city, leaving an old job and really great friends, and pretty much starting over – I feel primed and ready to begin a season of a self love journey. I’m a tadpole just beginning to splash around in that area, but if I learn to swim, I’ll be happily splashing along for life. (Not without a few storms here and there, but such is life.)

I think at any time, we should all – regardless of lifestyle, gender, income, current situation, etc. – be able to lean in to a self love journey. I think your prescription will look different depending on your situation. Coming up on a year and a half of recovery, I am keen to really spend time on body image and having a more positive view for my appearance. Celebrating myself more. But maybe you’re in a time in your life where you just need to take more time to yourself, or you need to work on boundaries in relationships, etc. If this is speaking to you, I’d encourage you to find some time today to sit down and jot down what areas you’d imagine in your little pill box. What vitamins do you want to add to your regime to feel happier?

I’ll break down a little bit about what I plan to do on this self love journey in a new city, new season of life. I know it won’t be overnight, but baby steps and a blueprint can go a long way.

Self Love: Body Image

I’ve gotten a lot better in the past few months and I really owe it to sitting in my uncomfort. Going to yoga, being more mindful, and just straight up looking at my body and going “this is what I look like”. (I struggle with body dysmorphia, so this can be difficult, yet I felt at a place where I could do this without severe body checking, etc. If you’re in treatment, discuss with your team!)

One thing that has really helped is getting rid of clothes that don’t fit or don’t feel flattering to me. I’m hoping to buy some new activewear when we move and I plan to get something that feels like me and fits me.

Self Love: Beauty Standards

As a bride, I’ve been struggling in this arena. I am generally pretty low maintenance. I let my hair do what it wants, I like my toenails painted, but am ok doing it myself, and I used to really only wear mascara for makeup. Last month, I got lash extensions and to be completely honest, that may have been the catalyst for falling into some pretty unrealistic beauty standards. (Especially with the aforementioned anecdote about my recent lash refill. The stubby lashes have been a huge blow to self confidence.)

I went to a hair salon to get a blow out so see how I would like it for my wedding and they were asking me about my hair goals. I had none – but I wasn’t necessarily happy with my hair. I do think there’s a balance for me – I want to feel good about my hair to boost my self confidence. I do believe that if I walked around every day and felt “blah” about my hair, it would seep in to just feeling “blah” about myself in general. But I don’t want to swing too far to the other side and spent too much time and money obsessing over my hair’s shine, strength, and volume. I’ve lived with this hair for 23 years and let me tell ya – it’s pretty much always done the same thing. (And I’ve been ok with that!)

I compromised by letting the stylist give me a hair mask treatment during shampoo to add some hydration back in and I bought a $30 conditioner that I will use sparingly over the next few months. (Like 2 washes on, 2 washes off.) And I am trying to wash my hair less because my hair can really go 2-3 days without a shampoo. But I won’t be doing any other treatments or buying extra products. I’m just giving it a little extra TLC to make this an arena of self care and not one of obsession.

Basically, I want to be careful. Eyelashes, hair, and I don’t want the next thing to be an addiction to custom manicures or a tanning addiction. Not throwing shade on anyone who loves themself a good mani or pool day – that just isn’t ME and I know I would be doing myself a disservice and buying into conventional beauty standards if I just listened to every last magazine and the bridal industry at large and tried to wax, hydrofacial, and microneedle away my insecurities. The way to face those is to accept the imperfections – in my skin, my hair, my gosh dang eyelashes. I have moderate trichotillomania for crying out loud! At least I have lashes.

Self Love: Being Ok With Where I Am

So many people have chatted with me in the past few days and want to know “what” I’m doing over “how” I’m doing. Well – that’s just a wordplay. Obviously, most care about how I am doing, the “what” just comes first! I am totally guilty of this, too. You see someone at the grocery store you haven’t seen in a while and you immediately ask what they are doing for work, how post-grad life is going, etc. before you ask about their family, their health, and/or their passions.

I’m an independent creative who’s really excited to be trying new things. I am a dog mom (no shame! I kinda hate that term, but it’s better than “fur mama” … sorry, lol). I am an almost-wife!!!! That’s gotta count for something. I am an interior-decorator wanna be with our new apartment. I am a sister. I hope I am an encourager! (Is that a thing?) I am SO ok with that actually. All of those things. I think I just have trouble telling people I’m happy with those things. I’m worried I’ll appear that I am not doing “enough” or nothing truly worthy. But when I really step out of my own shoes, I like to think: If I wasn’t me, and I met me, would I think “wow, that person is such a good person. I want to be like them or I want to be their friend.” And times in the past, the answer would have been “Ha, no!!!” But I’m happy to report that lately, I like me. I’d be my friend. I’d think I was unique. More of that for the rest of this year, please. More of showing up for my former self and saying “look and who you could be all along!”

I’d love to hear from you if any of this resonates with you or if you’re on a similar journey. What kinds of things are helping you? What have you let go in order to pursue this journey? What’s feeding you and fueling you right now?

Thanks for reading – as always. Feels like a cheesy thing to say and a cop out way to end a blog post, but that’s what’s coming to me right now and as I am on a self-love journey – I am going to give myself permission to just leave this here.