I think in our early 20's we never really think about self appreciation, actually scratch that, we never really understand what self appreciation is. So naturally, self love is way way out of sight, a small flicker or a word we see on our feed, every now and then. So when we actually realize we're not happy and that we need to start dissecting that statement to develop some love for ourselves, we don't know where to begin.
In comes loss. One of the most feared things by humanity. It comes in many forms and in many stages of grief and difficulty. From losing a toy at 3 years old, losing your hair during your first haircut at 5, to growing up and losing your friends or a loved one. Then comes losing yourself, the existential crisis that keeps creeping up and moving it's way downwards to younger generations, bit by bit. Loss is hard, it is the most painful thing we have to go through, but it is also the most empowering force that can actually be our only gateway to loving ourselves.
In 2019, I lost 2 important friendships, a grandparent and myself. In 2019, I have never loved myself more than I do today. It took an immense amount of pain and an immense amount of grief and loss to be able to say that "I appreciate myself". We often underestimate the loss we go through regularly, thinking that if it's not death, then it's not that bad. When the truth is losing someone or something is painful, yes in different degrees, but still painful.
I didn't notice it until it was written in bold letters on youtube as the title of Selena Gomez's new song and before I even heard it, I knew the importance of something as simple as the sentence, "I needed to lose you to love me". I believe that sentence should be a message, not only for those who have been through breakups, but everyone who has gone and is going through loss in all its forms, I think this is what Selena herself puts out there in the world with her music and a song at the end of the day speaks to each person differently. Here are some of the lyrics that resonated with me...
"I saw the signs and I ignored It
I need to lose you to find me
I needed to hate you to love me
I needed to lose you to love me"
So why does it take losing to love yourself? The truth is, I really don't know. But If I were to look at why I had finally developed love and appreciation for myself, I could see 2 apparent reasons...
The first is that I started to put myself first. That came with re-evaluating my friendships and noticing which ones were toxic. After that I began to take responsibility for my own evolvement in those unhealthy friendship dynamics. I took responsibility, but I didn't take the blame. I held myself accountable for the negative traits I had that affected that friendship and despite them, I didn't beat myself up about it, I used that to help me grow and learn. From there I was able to really stand proud of myself for choosing myself and my happiness over someone that was not good for me, not matter how much I loved them and grieved their loss. Once I realized how much happier I was after that, and how much losing them had given me a strength that was beyond what I had imagined...how I viewed myself completely changed. Instead of seeing myself as weak and a victim, I saw myself as a strong person that has been through a lot, but had developed experience and an awareness that is beyond what I could have ever wished for myself.
The second thing is that I always feared losing a loved one. And a week after my grandmother passed, I said that she gave me the most beautiful gift with her passing, and that was my strength. I thought it would break me and that I wouldn't be able to move on with life. But I surprised myself with how much I was able to handle that very difficult day and very difficult period. Of course, I had moments of emotional and physical shock, but I was still capable of going in and kissing her goodbye and I was capable of holding my dad's hand as he buried her. Those are things that yes were unbearable, but I never thought I would have it in me to even think about going through them. It took losing her to realize that I was stronger than I thought I was and that made me appreciate myself 10x more. It also made me realize that loss, that thing I feared so much, doesn't have to destroy me and that it takes time, but I will be able to live through it.
So what take what you can from Selena's words and I will take it as a reminder that happiness and love don't come without pain and loss and that's the hard truth. I guess we all just have to live with it and power through...
Main Image Credits: Selena Gomez Via Youtube