There is a line from one of my favorite books, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho that reads, “I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you.” This book renews my spirit whenever I read it again for the umpteenth time, but that line is one I carry with me everyday. Because you see, I love me. I LOVE ME. But I haven’t always and I don’t always, but the universe perpetually helps me to rediscover, when needed, that I fell in love with me a long time ago.
We live in a world where people need to know everything about you so they can label and file you. Stupid, pretty, shallow, a bitch, a hoe, etc. One bad decision will come to define your entire life. A bad first impression will forever color someone’s perception of you. Rumors will have people believing they are an expert on you when they have never met you.
This world will only uplift you if they believe you are not uplifting yourself. The next time a man compliments you, say “I know” instead of “Really? Thank you!” and watch his response. When your girls are together and they’re all saying what they don’t like about themselves so another can reassure them of their beauty, don’t participate. Instead mention how happy you are with yourself, your looks, your career, your man, and see how your friends respond. I’m consistently not surprised by how someone can have 2k followers on social media and receive only 500 or so likes, 500 followers – 100 likes, 100 followers – 15 likes. People want to know your life, not to support you, but to judge you. To discover a negative attribute to bring you down to their level. This world only wants you confident when they approve you to be.
I was an awkward kid. Hell, I still am. I prefer my own company and I live in my head too much. There is an entire alternate universe happening in my mind at any moment. I can mentally flip through pages of a book I’d previously read whenever necessary. Words and facts live in my head, and they are constantly rearranging themselves into a logical conclusion. That is until I learn a new fact. Then the process starts over. Due to this, I’ve never been great in social interactions. Too much noise and stupidity hinder my ability to think, and I need to always be able to think.
Growing up, I did not comprehend how My Self was just trying to assert its existence so I’d try to be less of me to fit in with my peers. I’m supposed to like going to basketball games to stare at boys. I shouldn’t be in my room with a Harlequin novel with Michael Jackson in my headphones. I should be out playing Hide-and-Go-Get-It and rapping Scarface. Male attention and gossiping with friends were supposed to be more fun than reading a book. Thus, I tried to hide or repress what made me me and be more of what made them them. I embodied all these fraudulent traits to fit in, only to be betrayed or made fun of regardless. Thankfully, in my adolescent mind, it registered to not try harder but…
…to tell the world to go fuck itself.
Be You. Do You. Love You. People will either like you or they won’t. When I stopped pretending, I lost friends. C’est la vie. To this day, when someone wants to exit my life, I allow them. People come and people go. And they will require you to be less of you and more of them. They will judge you and pick you apart just to find you lacking. You’ll be having a great day and then…people. I remember reading about how Henry David Thoreau embraced being a hermit in his life, and at 16 years of age, I thought that was the best idea ever! You mean I could lock myself away and not have to engage in inane conversations? Where do I sign up? Because people suck, and I’m awesome. All I need is me. Honestly, most days, social media and mobile technology are the only reasons this world even knows I still exist.
It requires an acute sense of self to participate in society every day and return home less diminished. This world will happen to you unless you actively, daily, choose to happen to it. You have to own yourself and your perceived flaws, your standardized attributes, your chosen way of dress, your involuntary way of speaking. I know I’m brilliant, but my objective each day is to be smarter than I was the day before. I’m aware society may think I don’t have the accepted form of beauty; yet at every moment, I know I am the hottest thing walking. Now there are moments I’m less certain of my looks. There are times when I accept less in my love life and settle for what I don’t want. There are days when work beats on me so badly that I believe I am meant to be mediocre. But what I do not do and what YOU cannot do is allow those moments, those times, those days to endure.
You must love yourself more thoroughly and deeply than you love anything in this world. If you’re willing to die for your children, be willing to die for yourself. The devotion you’re giving to that fuck nigga, give that same devotion to yourself. Embrace fully everything that makes you you. Be smart. Be weird. Read strange books. Go to events that your friends do not. Wear makeup and heels one day, look homeless the next. Club Saturday night, church Sunday morning. Be a professional 9 to 5 and a heathen at happy hour. You do not have to be limited by society’s, your friend’s, your lover’s, your family’s, anyone’s expectations or standards. You are not either/or; you’re this, that, and. Most importantly, learn who your friends are and are not. If you have a friend whom you have to put on for, lie about what’s happening in your life, that is not your friend. If someone makes you feel less than, that is not your friend. The greatest love is the one that makes you into a better person without changing you into someone else. Love is unconditional. Set boundaries on your life, your time, your body. As the late Maya Angelou said, “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” For those with good intentions for you, a standard is not a hurdle; it’s a purpose. Because if you’re loving yourself this confidently and nonapologetically, the woman behind those standards must be worth it. Do not ever doubt being worth it.
You are not either/or; you’re this, that, and.
This post has gotten lengthy so allow me to conclude. What I am trying to impart to you and myself this October morning is simply You Are Enough. Nothing about you needs to change. Because you are you, and you are more than sufficient. This world will tear you down if you allow it, a man will break your spirit, your friends will drag you into their misery. You must be able to know yourself and remain steadfast. Be all of you. Every trait, every idiosyncrasy. Yesterday is the past. Those failures and missteps no longer apply. Forgive yourself for them. Today is a new opportunity, and tomorrow, even it will be gone. (2 Corinthians 5:17) But the next day, you have another opportunity to be fully you, to be unafraid to show this world YOU. There’s no 12 step program to loving yourself. You simply decide to do so. As you’re reading my words, pull back your shoulders, sit up straight, look yourself and everyone else in the eyes. And long after my words fade from your mind, remain confident. Find what restores you everyday: meditation, exercise, music, laughter. You complete a self-care routine every day, every hour if necessary, until loving yourself is so innate, you’ve forgotten what you look and feel like without it. Because Love, you are the most important thing in your world. Your world can’t exist without YOU.
Vibrate at your highest intensity, and those who are meant to be next to you will be able to withstand the reverberations.
I love me today, tomorrow, and yesterday. And I love you.