Em of From Famine to Feast wrote recently about why self-love is a good call, whereas my friends at WeDIDit wrote about feeling relief that self-love wasn’t required to move forward. Around the same time, Andy of Eden in Babylon was talking about the clusterfuck entailed in the word love and the many different things we use it to refer to. Pulling that all together, I thought I’d chime in with some of my own thoughts.
Different kinds of love
The English word love is weird because it refers to so many things. I love my guinea pigs, peanut butter cups, cheeseburgers, the movie Girls Just Want to Have Fun, my family, Steven Pinker (one of my academic crushes, but I’m also in love with his hair), Casper the guinea pig’s hair, talking about purple people eaters, the comedian Trevor Noah, Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall, Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, Liquid Sunshine essential oil blend, the colour blue, my maternity leggings from Gap, my knee-high boots that are warm and comfortable and perfect with said leggings, my cozy slippers, and the pair of hospital socks I still have. What do all those things have in common? Not much of anything. Do I feel the same kind of love for them all? Not a chance.
Okay, so if love, in general, can be that many things, what can self-love be? Well, I strongly love the guinea pigs, but they’re cute and cuddly as can be, and I am decidedly not cute and cuddly. Trevor Noah? No, he’s people, and I don’t actually like people. Liquid Sunshine? I like it, but I could live without it, and I can’t live without me. How about talking about purple people eaters? That’s quirky, and I’m into quirky. Maternity leggings? We’re getting closer.
I don’t think self-love is generally, if ever, like my love for Mr. Darcy, Brad Pitt, or Steven Pinker’s hair. It certainly never has been for me.
But I do have self-love. It’s just a different kind of love. It’s a comfortable kind of love. A maternity leggings, cozy slippers, and hospital socks kind of comfortable. There is nothing and no one I have spent more time with than myself. I’m most comfortable in my own company, and much prefer that to being around anyone else.
My self-love isn’t pretty, it doesn’t try to be, and it doesn’t want to be. Sure, it’s not perfect, because I’m not perfect, but that imperfection is what makes it so uniquely me. It’s like a flannel onesie with a butt flap, but also a hole or two or in the butt area because it’s worn out. It’s got stains on it from where guinea pigs have peed on me. It was blue a long time ago, but it’s faded to a nondescript greyish hue. Between all the guinea pig hair and my own hair that’s stuck on it, it’s a lot heavier than it used to be, but I’m indifferent to that.
I like my self-love. There’s nothing fancy or flashy or exciting about it, and the only time it causes any tingles is when I’m just starting to feel the dampness of guinea pig pee soaking through it. It’s not something to be paraded out into the world; it hangs out at home with me and the guinea pigs. Unlike the brief appearances that Trevor Noah, Mr. Darcy, and Brad Pitt make, it’s settled in for the long haul.
Self-love doesn’t need to be pretty
Pinterest and Instagram and advertisements galore make self-love look like this beautiful thing that we’re all supposed to have that makes us shiny and sparkly. Perhaps some people’s self-love is like that, but I’ve got some pretty strong doubts about that. And really, why would you want shiny and sparkly when you can have flannel butt flap?
Now I’m curious—do you love yourself? If so, what does that look like? If not, what do you feel like it’s supposed to look like?