Self-love was not shown in the mirror I’d see daily. Or perhaps, I just never realised its presence in my life. Maybe that’s why I had struggled with looking at my reflection for so long.
You see, I always thought that self-love was something you’d think was obvious. A green face mask with cucumbers, or a rose-bath surrounded by vanilla-scented candles. And yes, these actions do qualify as a form of self-care.
But self-love—real, genuine, heartfelt self-love—is so much more than that.
Self-love is intricate, personal, and a lot of the time, very subtle. You can miss it if you’re not looking too closely. It’s like a butterfly flying around, sometimes grazing just above our faces; too quick for us to notice as we’re going about the bustle of our everyday lives.
I have always struggled with this concept, thinking I never had the time to do proper self-care; and thus, feeling like I never was connected enough with the core of who I was like other people were. I’d feel guilty seeing all those Instagram posts about taking a day for yourself; indulging in your favourite pleasures and activities. I’d be too exhausted to do anything after school and work except go straight to bed.
But then, I realised something.
Self-care is not always the glamorised version. Sometimes, it’s the raw and honest one.
Self-love can be sleeping in an extra twenty minutes, not choosing to go on social media, or even reading a book to calm down after an anxiety attack.
Self-love also goes deeper. It is choosing to stay true to yourself and walk away from an abusive or toxic friendship. Self-love is crying on the bathroom floor at 3 a.m., yet still having the courage to stand up and start again tomorrow. It can be rolling your windows down at sunset and blasting your favourite music; screaming the lyrics so badly at the top of your lungs that you finally feel alive again.
Self-love is messy, gritty, imperfect, but oh-so-real. It’s honest all the way down to its roots, and should make you feel relaxed, like there’s purpose—no matter how big or little—in your identity. You matter. And coming to this revelation in our lives, is a milestone in our journeys to self-discovery.
My flaws, imperfections, and physical reminders I get from daily living in this human existence, are all ingredients in my self-love recipe. I used to get so frustrated when I didn’t feel like I was amounting to that epitome of the “self-love” definition that society brainwashes us to believe.
Now, as I begin to appreciate both the intentional and unintentional actions of self-love in my everyday life, I’ve begun to look in the mirror more… and actually smile. I’ve begun to notice everything my body does to keep me alive. All my cells and blood vessels and chemicals, working together to keep me functioning and healthy.
Looking into my mirror is a trial and error process. It is not perfect. And even now, if I stare too long, I can still hear the voices of critique and self-sabotage whispering.
But as I’ve started to fall more in love with myself, I’ve realised something so profound yet so necessary. Life is too short to spend at war with your own reflection.
Self-love reminds me that despite how I’m feeling, my physical appearance is not my enemy. My flaws and quirks are not my enemy. I can be on top of the world, in love with how I look, obsessed with the strong woman I’m becoming. Or I can be dressed in sweatpants, hair tied in a ponytail, feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders as I just try to get through the day.
Either way, when I look into that mirror, I still want to love myself.
My mission is to not conform to society’s expectations of who I should be or how I should look. Because when I glance into that mirror, I want to see, well, me. I want to see that unique, trying girl still changing and growing; still making mistakes and laughing loudly, and falling down then getting back up again.
I’m tired, no, I’m exhausted of the standards I’ve allowed society to set for me. To set for us. We are women—we are goddesses of power and strength; not stationary moulds designed for our souls to fit into. And loving ourselves, even in the messiness of everyday life; even in the ugly, unfiltered times, is proof of our power.
This is why I have chosen to become friends with my mirror. It’s a big step towards reclaiming my power. My reflection is someone I am learning to love; someone I am beginning to admire. She does not give up easily. She is a hard worker. And she loves fiercely. She has a fire in her heart, and her dreams float in clouds within her vivid imagination and callused hands.
She is not perfect nor will she ever be. But my reflection is my reminder of the beauty it is to be alive, and to have the free will to create who I am in this world.
I hope that this is enough to help you want to become friends with your mirror as well. Because you deserve to.