Defining Love and Self Love and Self Care
“Self-care is vital to how effective you can be.” That line can apply to anyone and everyone: nurses, construction workers, mothers, fathers, social workers. I graduated with my Bachelors of Social Work in 2016 and my professors’ warnings about self-care still ring in my ears. Social workers, an 82%-woman-dominated profession, focus their energy on people experiencing homelessness, sexual trauma, disabilities, abuse, addiction, mental illness, and grief. It’s not a walk in the park, to say the least. It is draining. It is brutal. It is constant, endless, hard work.
Self-love is exactly the same. It is hard work to look in the mirror and see flawlessness – even in your flaws. Hating yourself, the mistakes you make, and the imperfections you wish you could zap away is easy and it seems once you’ve given into self-hate it is a deep, dark hole that sucks you in deeper. Society tells us our belly rolls, stretch marks, and scars are unacceptable, ugly. We, as a country, are shown every day through the media, advertisements, fashion industry, and entertainment that who we are is not young, smart, pretty, rich, skinny, GOOD enough. Women face this nasty reality even stronger with nearly impossible beauty standards. Standards of what it means to be a (working, healthy, thin, gorgeous) wife, mother, and woman. Standards even the most evolved, magical, superheroine could not ace. More often than not, however, we are our own biggest critics. That little voice inside our head can be cruel and ruthless; highlighting every teeny tiny fault.
Self-love and self-care – they are key to these self-loathing critiques women must face and live up to every day. They are vital to how effective and HAPPY you can be. Look in the mirror and force out a smile. List 5 things you love about who you are, inside and out. Do more of what you love. Try new things and find what you truly deeply love then immerse yourself in it every chance you get. Appreciate yourself. It’s not easy being you, no matter who you are. Take care of your mind and body. Vent to your people and cry yourself dry every so often - it’s good for the soul. Get your heart rate going doing something you love whether that is dancing your night away, walking your dog, or training for a marathon with your very best friend. Eat healthy foods but don’t ever forget to treat yourself – often. Reward yourself for your accomplishments. Don’t kick yourself for not succeeding. We all fail, we are all imperfect humans. All we can ever do is try to better ourselves. Love yourself harder than anyone you know. There is only one you and you are enough exactly the way you are.
My self-love has really been shining through for me this past year ever since I moved to Brooklyn, NY after getting a spur-of-the-moment job as a full-time nanny. I’ve spent a lot more time alone with myself - walking around new neighborhoods on my days off, talking alone to the baby, or brainstorming what I want to say about the latest political events on my social medias. All this time spent figuring out how I feel, what I like, the kind of person I want to be, future plans and dreams and goals for myself has all paid off in the most beautiful way. Loving who I am has changed my life for the better in a refreshing, confident burst of happiness. I am always searching for the balance between truly accepting every bit of myself and brainstorming ways to better myself, the world around me, then actually DOING THEM. This may be trying a new hobby, like starting a ceramics class, or joining a “Brooklyn Book Club” centered on feminism, or going to a rally I really believe in. I’m always telling the girls I nanny – almost always there is more than one way to get to the same destination. Try new things and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Happiness doesn’t always come naturally when life throws us eight curve balls all at once. But happiness is possible for everyone. For me, it was eating new foods in a new city with my same loved ones and striking up conversations with new people, even when I’d be totally comfortable staying silent in the background. Maybe for your happiness is learning yoga and wearing ONLY sequins. Maybe it is moving closer to your mom. Maybe it is joining the Peace Corps. Whatever makes your soul shine – do more of! Don’t know what makes your soul shine? Try it all! Focus on you, what you love, and working towards the woman you want to be. Self-love is valuable, self-care is so important, and you are WORTH IT.
by: Coral Hain