17 Sep How I Learnt Radical Self Love
To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. – Thich Nhat Hanh
My experience as a volunteer over the years has given me life-altering experiences. Experiences where I have laughed, cried, felt excluded, felt like I was one of the team.
I used to volunteer at a Girls’ Home where a group of young ladies acted as mentors to girls from ages 10 – 16. It was a fun experience. I looked forward to seeing the young ladies every month. During one of our trust circles where we would pick a social topic and the girls’ could ask us a question, one of the girls out of the blue, stared straight at me and said, “How is it she is so pretty?’
I’m not sure if it was the attention or the fact she called me pretty, but I was caught off-guard. I didn’t even say thank you. I think I just stared back at her with a look of astonishment. How could you ask such a question, I wanted to ask.
Some of the other volunteers chimed in to assure her that she was in fact pretty comparing her to former Ms. Trinidad and Tobago Kenisha Thom. That afternoon for the remaining time at the home I was uneasy. I felt like a fraud. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. Who was I to be ‘mentoring’ and telling young girls that they should love and respect themselves when I didn’t even love myself?
I went home from that session, locked myself in my bedroom and cried for the rest of the day. I cried because I didn’t love myself. I cried for all of the times I mistreated myself. I cried for all the mean, nasty words I ever said to myself. I cried for those girls and all women who didn’t feel loved and wanted just like me.
I never went back to that home. I couldn’t face the girls again. It wasn’t because they did me anything negative, but I suppose my shame was too great of a burden to bear. Perhaps I was scared I would burst into tears the moment I saw them.
Years have passed and I have grown exponentially from that experience. It was tough understanding that loving myself is an ongoing process and not a one-time event.
Sometimes I wish I had a do-over with the girls. A chance to teach what I have learned about how life stems straight from our ability to love ourselves. So if I saw those girls from the home today, I’d say this to them:
I wish I had a wonderful story about how I’m showered with compliments and how men adore me. But I don’t. Thank you for seeing my beauty. In the Caribbean and around the world, I will never be considered beautiful by any standard. But I’ve learned that I am beautiful nonetheless.
Beauty is the way you own yourself, act for yourself, think for yourself and accept yourself. Beauty isn’t just about being sexy, being light skinned and having the perfect facial features.
We blame society for having a narrow mind about what beauty standards are and guess what – we are society! So I say to you, create your own standard of beauty even if no one else believes in it.
Explore your own creativity, your style, your flair with fashion and your hair. Get to know yourself – likes, dislikes, what makes you smile, what makes you sad.
Remember, no matter how many times someone tells us we are beautiful if we don’t believe that we are, it wouldn’t matter. We don’t feel better about ourselves. We just get addicted to the approval from others.
Beauty is loving you, being comfortable with yourself and not trying to please anyone else. You have to please yourself first. Beauty is the depth of your soul and your humanity.
As for men and them being attracted to you?
There is no formula to attraction. It is an emotional experience and an exchange of energies. Attraction is not regulated. Radiate your inner beauty. Always.
You shouldn’t be too hard on yourself. You are so much prettier than you think. So much stronger, so much smarter and so much braver. And although you might think I’m crazy, all of the love and acceptance you are seeking is already found within yourself.
Women, in general, spend too much time overly concerned with the beauty ideals telling us how we should look and how we should feel. What is most important is how you feel on the inside. You are enough as you are. You are beautiful enough. You are smart enough, funny enough, sexy enough. Even when you wake up in the morning and you look in the mirror and you feel like Dracula…well, you are enough on those days too.
Most of all, don’t forget to SMILE 🙂
Have a courageous day!