Do you love yourself? I mean really love yourself? Do you get up in the morning, do a twirl like that chick out of The Sound of Music, give yourself a hug, look lovingly in the mirror at the pimple rising on your cheek and see cartoon hearts ballooning all around?
No? Oh good, me neither.
I'm more likely to wake up tired, flick through social media on my phone pining after all the faux photos of people and their perfect lives and then get up already feeling heavy from my apparent lack of not keeping up with the ability to earn squillions and create sponsored posts from my luxurious hotel room and then my yacht and then my private jet.
My rosacea is getting worse and I wake up with it already all flared up. It's currently all I see when I get up in the morning. Oh I know, it's not all about looks blah blah blah but to a vain slut like me, looks are important.
It's exhausting. I can't tell you how many different tenants I have living in my head that I have to deal with every day. Maybe you know some of them? There's Miss Confidence, Miss Defeat, Miss Vanity, Miss Anger, Miss Jealousy, Miss Happiness, Miss Excitement, Miss Hornbag (she's a personal fave). One minute they're all like "hey, you got this, girl", next they are saying "just go and fucking die, loser". Like I said, it's E-X-H-A-S-U-T-I-N-G (so exhausting apparently that I cunt spell).
I feel like I should love myself all the time though, you know? The amount of "self love*" posts I see on Instagram and in the media and on Facebook, I feel like surely those messages are slowly seeping through my body coating every cell with an outer "self-love" shell. Surely by now I should be scroll past a photo that says "love thyself, bitch" and just snap out of my self absorbing, self hating state, right?
Or I should be able to change my thoughts and emotions just from reading a clickbait article like "10 ways to love yourself by lunchtime" that pretty much sends the message that loving yourself is super simple, forget the 30 years of shit that's slowly accumulated into these self-loathing states you dip into, you can be cured of all your abandonment issues by taking a brisk walk around the block, taking 10 deep breaths and saying to yourself "you is kind. you is smart. you is important."
Isn't that how it works? You just click your fingers and suddenly you're madly, deeply in love with yourself?
The point of all the aforementioned sarcasm? Sure, "self-love" is important but is anyone going to acknowledge that it is really hard to get. I'm not even sure what "self love" means. I "love" myself a helluva lot more than I did in my teens and my early 20s but I still on a daily basis dislike myself for numerous reasons. I find it hard to accept myself on different days. And the ability to "self love" is not something that's taken away from you overnight but it's something that has been slowly stripped away since childhood.
We're told from such a young age that we've gotta be pretty, smart, that we must find someone to settle down with who will make us happy. In my case and in my social circle that meant finding a doctor or a lawyer or a president or a prince, maybe I should have gone for Harry (damn you, Meghan). We're told we have to be good at everything. We must excel in our relationships with our family, our lovers, our children, the homeless. We must ace our schoolwork and have a large, enviable group of friends.
We go through puberty with pimples and mood swings, boys teasing us for being unattractive, or in my case flat-chested. We throw ourselves into relationships, grasping, clawing to be loved, even by people who may be emotionally, mentally and physically abusive towards us. We must be sexy and fun and the right kind of beautiful. We must be a Madonna with just a sprinkling of the whore. We yearn for validation because we believe that without it, we are not worthy. If we can't find somebody else to say, "you matter" then surely it must be that we simply don't.
We're told from early on that our own pleasures and desires must be hidden. We experiment with rubbing our tingling bits and we're told "stop that, that's disgusting", or "stop it, we don't do that", the words flow from mouths of adult out of embarrassment and ignorance. We're shamed for our pleasure even before we know what it all means and more importantly before we can rationalise what effect these words and actions will have on our future ability to believe that we deserve to enjoy our own sexual pleasure. Like I said, 30 years of accumulating shit, right there.
These notions of shame and embarrassment carry on with us into our teenage years and throughout adulthood. We must be smart and pretty and likeable but we must not prioritise our own pleasure, all the while our sexual desires grow and grow, a lot of time towering in the dark. We go incognito when we Google erotica and porn, we buy our vibrators online and the poor things spend most of their life tucked away under granny undies in a knicker drawer (sorry, that should have said silk #instagramfilters). We lose our virginity in ways society tells us too. We fain pleasure during sex because we're taught that it's really about making sure the dude cums and when that's over in 2 minutes, well that's that.
There are anomalies to this story but the above is a pretty common narrative. And we wonder why it's hard for us to embrace ourselves. To embrace the fact that we may be strong, smart, beautiful, funny, curious and creative but we're also flawed, imperfect, weak, arrogant, ignorant and complete bitches when we wanna be. There will always be that chick who has more, is smarter, funnier, prettier, skinnier. That's just life, right? The hard thing is believing that they aren't "better" than you. Because they aren't right? You're just different.
With everything around me, I feel incredibly pressured to love myself. I don't even know what it means to love myself and I don't have the answer to "how do you love yourself?". I do think though that the term "self-love" is very, very flawed. Love is a strong word and it's a very loaded word. The whole notion makes it sound like you should love yourself no matter what but we all know this is unrealistic.
What if we obliterated the term "self love" and instead start calling it "self liking" or "self acceptance". I think that would make me feel like it's all a little more attainable. You're a dick sometimes, you stuff things up sometimes but every day you also do some pretty awesome things. I managed to dry brush my skin before I left the house this morning #winning. If we celebrated the small stuff we'd probably find we'd like ourselves a bit before lunch. Like for example, eat the donut, just stop parking on the pavement outside the donut store and park in an actual car bay (note to self). Or maybe ask your guy if together you can really work on making it last for 4 strokes instead of 3. You'll like him a bit more and you'll also like yourself more #sexualwellbeingforthewin.
I don't know, what do you think? Please comment below if you agree, disagree or are completely lost like moi.
*("self love" in terms of masturbation is totally acceptable to me because I really, really love my clit when I'm masturbating and I'm pretty sure she loves me back).