What does love mean to you? The dictionary defines love as... just kidding, I’m not going to do all that. Not just because it’s a literary cliche, but because I believe that is a definition each of us should discover on our own. We may think we know what it means at a certain point in our lives but that understanding can change or even disappear as we go through different phases of life. We meet people who challenge that internal definition and we may feel like we have to adap. Or maybe our definition of love lies in toxicity disguised as passion. The point I’m trying to make is that it probably can’t truly be defined because it’s constantly evolving.
For a long time I was sure I knew what my definition was. I swore that I was bound to certain situations because I felt like it was love and that it should not be let go of that easily. What I have learned in this journey is that it comes and goes. However, there’s a type of love that I discovered recently in life and my goal is to make it last forever. That feeling is self love.
Self love is something I’ve struggled with my entire life and the crazy part is I didn’t even know I was struggling! We all have things we wish we could change or don’t like about ourselves, and as a teen I figured it was normal to hate yourself because you weren’t “perfect”. I hated my hair, so I flat ironed it every day. I hated my body, therefore I didn’t eat properly. I resented my complexion because I felt like it made me less beautiful than the “other” girls and that’s why I didn’t get the same attention. The list goes on but I’m sure some people can relate since we are always our worst critics. I never felt beautiful and sometimes still don’t, it’s a constant battle.
Self love can’t happen until you accept yourself for the way you are. I realized that a lot of the issues I had with myself where things I cannot change. I had to learn how to quiet that negative inner voice with positive affirmations. How did I accomplish this? Well, I had to dig to the root of my self hate and a lot of it had to do with me being black. Plain and simple. The way I chose to carry myself, the music I listened too, the people I was attracted too were all influenced by other races. Being black, to me, wasn’t beautiful or enough. It wasn’t until my 20s when I really started to learn and see the beauty in being a black girl in this world. Once I accepted that beauty, everything else fell into place. I LOVE my hair, it’s healthy and grows towards the sun. I LOVE my complexion, it literally glows! I LOVE all the challenges and flaws that are apart of me, because they make me who I am.
Learning to love the things about my self that I once hated was such a powerful feeling. Now the things I’m unhappy about are things that I can actually fix if I wanted to, but I don’t let myself get consumed by it. The key is to wake up in the morning and love yourself in the moment as you are. Some days I feel fat, or my skin isn’t cooperating and I’m breaking out. Some times my hair gets so unmanageable, or I feel insecure going out with out makeup and lashes. Even when things aren’t going my way I appreciate every part of myself because what else am I going to do? In the words of the amazing Ru Paul “If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love someone else?” Lol.
And that’s the underlying message behind self love. Not only is it so freeing to be happy with yourself, but you cant possibly know what you want from someone else if you can’t understand yourself. You can’t tell someone how to love you if you’re not in love with yourself first. Before we look for love in each other we have to see it in our own hearts first.
February is blessed to be the month of love and black history, so it felt perfect to share my journey in finding love in MY black history. It’s something that a lot of black girls go through and some haven’t dealt with yet. If you can relate, you’re not alone! That being said, I hope each and everyone one of you reading this really takes the time to find their definition and cultivate that self love. Celebrate it all year long and not just in February, because we all deserve to be loved by ourselves first!
Happy Valentines Day!
Cocoa Browne Beauty