Sunday, October 19, 2014

On Loving Myself (and On Loving Yourself)


Okay, so a thing happened a couple weeks ago that made me feel like my blog still mattered, which is a silly thing, but like, as a writer, even a teensy little undergrad baby with a little old blog, I want to MATTER. I'm a leo, so that's a thing, right? Also maybe it's just because I'm a human.

Point is: I have been meaning to write about something very important to me for a while, but I just haven't had the drive to sit down and write lately, but today I am full of words and I'm just writing like a madwoman and wowee I just want this feeling to last. I don't know where it's coming from but I do know the stars should stop being in chaos soon (that's a real astrological thing that I don't really understand but everyone's life is insane right now so I believe it; google it I guess), and I am starting to want to write like a real writer girl again.

Okay anyway the thing I've been meaning to write about is how I'm in love with myself.

At some point in high school, I totally fell in love with myself. There's this whole sense that I think happens in high school, and maybe even starts in junior high, and definitely carries on through college and, I'd be willing to guess (though in all fairness I have no idea if this is a true assumption) it carries on into adulthood for infinity, and it's this weird thing no one really talks about where hating yourself the most is the most poetic and interesting. "Oh, I'm so fat and I'm having such a hard time in French and I am just absolutely failing math and ugh I haven't cleaned the kitchen in weeks and I just haven't ever created anything of meaning," and sometimes those feelings are very real and very valid, and I'm not diminishing that at all, but I do think sometimes we create a culture that feeds a competition of hating ourselves the most in the most poetic way.

When I was 16 years old, I had this distinct epiphany that I am wonderful. I am pretty and smart and I know lots of stuff and I am curious about everything I don't know and I am a good traveler and I am up for adventures and I am loved. This was this strange sort of idea that made its way around my brain for a few years and then finally came fully to fruition when I did my yoga teacher training this summer.

On the very first day of my training, we all introduced ourselves, and we all said things like, "I'm a student/mom/lawyer/doctor/cosmetologist..." and then we were asked to try it again and introduce ourselves without attachments. Who are we without the material things we're tied to? If our jobs and houses and cars and clothes and nails and titles were all gone, who would we be? All of the sudden, the whole room had answers like, "I am creative! I am smart! I am beautiful/loving/gentle/sweet/loved..." And we all realized that when we take that all away, we aren't anxious or stressed or overworked, but we're nice and we're good and we're curious. We're all good things, and when you look at yourself like that, in the way that's the most important, that's what matters the most. YOU ARE GOOD THINGS! ISN'T THAT COOL??!

The very foundation of yoga, the first yama of the yamas is ahimsa, which is the practice of nonviolence to yourself in order to practice nonviolence to every other living thing you interact with. And while I think the old cliche "If you don't love yourself, no one can love you," isn't true at all, because, well, that's sad and untrue, loving yourself and treating yourself with care -- not saying things like, "I suck at..." or "I hate when I..." -- makes it so much easier to refrain from things like "She sucks at" or "I hate..." about other people, either. Loving yourself doesn't mean you love other people less or that you're better than them in any way -- in fact, I think it's sort of the opposite. Loving yourself makes it so easy to see the beautiful things in everyone you come into contact with.

So YES, I still have terrible things. I have terrible days. I have terrible weeks sometimes, but I'm starting to realize, with more and more surety, that loving myself is the greatest asset I've got. I am smart and beautiful and curious and creative and I love myself, and this helps me heal. This helps me to be resilient and to be kind. And those are very important things to be.

So I just wanted to put this out there and write about it and I hope that one of you reads it who needs to hear it.

"You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time." -Angela Davis

I love myself and I love all of you,
Addy Sue Baird