3 words. 3 syllables. Different contexts. Different places. Different people.
The phrase “I love you” is spoken every single day. It might be something we say out loud, or it might be something we say internally. It can be spoken to a parent, a sibling, a romantic partner, or another loved one we may have. I tell my mom I love her on a daily basis. I tell my little brother the same thing. Its a phrase that I exchange between my father some days, but barely to my older brother (for no specific reason). I’ve said it romantically. I tell my friends I love them all the time, as I do with my grandparents. But how often do I tell myself that? How often do we look at ourselves, and just say “Despite it all– despite your flaws, mistakes, and your shortcomings- I love you”? The answer is probably close to never.
We set goals for ourselves while listening to what society says we have to be.. and we allow that to dictate our worth. We create an image of ourselves, an image that we seek to become. We present a false illusion to others in hopes of gaining their validation and acceptance. To be recognized as socially relevant. But when we look at ourselves- in a mirror, a moment of mental reflection, comparing ourselves to others- its a never ending cycle of I’m not good enough. I’ll be good enough when… and then when I do this.. and this..
I can’t speak for the male population, but I know for girls, social media is ruining our perception of ourselves. Not all, but most girls are constantly engaging in physical comparison. We look at other girls on Instagram, for example, and think why can’t I be like her? Maybe if I change my hair, or wear more makeup, I’ll feel pretty. And when I feel pretty, then I’ll actually love who I am and be proud of that. And thats so toxic, because it is so hard to break that cycle. I know of people that will walk by girls at the mall and compare themselves to those around them. They see how they fair. What they can do to look just like them. I know I’ve done that before. And it hurts.
Insecurity is a real thing that comes in so many different forms. It is so difficult to not feel pressured to be a certain type of person. To get that amazing job or to constantly be motivated. I know I’m guilty of that. I’ve exerted pressure on people before too. But from a young age, thats what we’re told to do. We are told to be a specific type of person, and if we don’t become that… then we’ve failed.
Allowing ourselves to reflect inward can be really hard. It means that we have to face the good, the bad, and all things in between. We have to come to terms with who we are, where our lives are at that moment, the things we have done or the lack thereof. Sometimes not everyone can do that, and thats okay. But whats not okay is having expectations time and time again without giving yourself a break. It’s okay to have “wants”, but its not okay to let those “wants” dictate your life. We get so caught up in the moment that we don’t see how far we have come, how much we have developed, and thats exactly what we need to do, or rather, what I need to do. I need to take a step back and just recognize that yeah sure, I might not look like that person. Hey I might not even be as educated, or well versed, or in-tune with myself like that person is, but thats OKAY. And it’s okay because everyone is different and does things at their own pace. No one is the same, and in that, we all bring different things to the table. We all have our pros, and we all have our cons. We are all so unique, so gifted, and so talented in our own way.
So today is the day I take a step back and recognize who I am. Today is the day that I truly acknowledge the things I have accomplished and the things that I have failed at. But in looking at my failures, I will shed light on all the times I got back up and tried again. Today is the day I separate the thoughts of who I think I should be from the truth of who I am. Today I am proud of the women I have become in the last 23 years. I will acknowledge what I want from life, not what I’m told I need, and set my goals to achieve just that.
Today is the day that I tell myself that despite it all, I love you.