For countless years, I’ve sought to find the sweet balance between genuine self-love and congruous self-expression. As of late, I have felt smothered by an imminent pressure pushing me to discover this increasingly necessary harmony.
Every day has been a significant step in this journey, and I must give credit to myself: I am proud of my growth. Self-destructive behaviors that previously sculpted my realities in harmful ways are no longer prevalent in my life. Since creating a new home for myself outside and within, I can look at my reflection with gentleness. Unwavering and sincere self-love is vital, and it’s finally become a daily devoted choice of mine.
Deeply understanding one’s personal needs is essential to healthy self-care. Throughout highs and lows, I’ve come to realize that we may never know everything about ourselves at a given time. We all have complexities to who we are that are not even evident to ourselves; like the hidden underbelly of an iceberg.
On the night of the Cold War Kids concert, I was confronted with an inner revelation about my core flaws that have hindered my expression of self-love. My mind and heart were open enough that evening for me to be able to look at myself critically yet softly, and analyze the depths of my identity in ways I previously had never.
Since that night, I’ve undergone a rapid personal transformation. One month later and I’ve never been more at peace with myself. While this past year has felt like the most authentically spirited I’ve ever been, I have learned recently that despite this growth, I’ve still been inhibiting myself from actualizing all I am.
I have become so caught up in the realities of responsibilities that I have neglected other values that bring me deeper fulfillment: art, adventure, and limitless love.
I feel blessed to have learned this lesson within a relatively short timeframe; some people don’t until they hit a “mid-life crisis” or even a “deathbed regret.” Life is fleeting, yet each moment is lasting. We should never sacrifice our personal happiness for societal structures that narrow our potentials.
“The real challenge is not to survive. Hell, anyone can do that. It’s to survive as yourself, undiminished.” -Elia Kazan
Six years ago, I imagined a tattoo to remind me of honest and enduring self-love. It’s the only tattoo I’ve ever really wanted: a black line circling my ring finger. A permanent ring bestowed upon myself by myself for myself. To symbolize various lessons to be emphasized every day– if not every moment:
1. No one can love you more than you love yourself.
2. Stay true to who you are.
3. Be conscious of your own presence and well-being.
Happiness is a very personal thing that– contrary to popular belief– can not come from anyone else but yourself. My relationships are what make me feel the most fulfilled in my life, but it’s essential to remember that your relationship with yourself ultimately shapes the rest of your realities. This is why these mantras are so important. We often don’t get to decide how or when we die, but we can decide how to live now. Don’t take yourself for granted; your spirit and your body are your greatest gifts.
This period in my life has transformed me in so many ways– even some that I don’t quite understand yet. There’s beauty in the chaos of growth and trial, and a constant reminder of these lessons may help guide me to further self-discovery.
Six years later, and I’m finally ready to stop making excuses and get the tattoo that represents this journey.