Self-love. That used to make me frown in annoyance and feel all silly-sick-sweet in my mouth. I never understood what it was. How can you throw around the words 'self' and 'love' in such an offhand, relaxed way and then push them against each other?
And then, then there was a moment where I realised I had spent some time really having a go at myself inside my head. Hissing at myself when I had done something embarrassing, constantly urging myself I wasn't good enough and I could do better, grimacing at myself when I didn't know something or got something wrong. It wasn't just getting exhausting, it was draining me. Making me all bland and tired and bored and disinterested. It felt so different to my usual relentless energy.
So, this self- love. I don't think it's directing gushing affection towards yourself and giving yourself roses (although you can if you want to). It's not gloating about yourself or hugging yourself or praising yourself. I think it's more forgiving yourself. Forgiving yourself for that awkward thing you said, for that time you tripped over on the street, for not putting your change into your purse quickly enough at the till, for getting something wrong, for not doing as well as expected to.
Those tight reins you have on yourself? Not just of discipline, but of perfection, of striving to be liked, of achieving, of behaving in the way they want you to behave. Don't keep them so taut you're left choking at the waist, immovable. Let your body and your mind have a bit more of a go at living, less of that clump of restraint sitting in your chest. There are times when we have been so harsh and so firm with ourselves, it's time to be a bit gentler. We need that. There is something so liberating in just realising you are enough.
Oh, and self-love? Speak up inside your head. They laughed at you a bit? Laugh in your thoughts and smile back at them. There's a suggestion coming from them that you can't? Pick up and throw the reasons why you want to at the wall they're trying to build until they're obstructed. You didn't succeed as much as you'd hoped? Breathe. You won't be able to do better with a beaten up and punished mind.
As sung in Rixton's song Appreciated 'It's just today, hey there's tomorrow' there's always another chance, we just actually have to give it to ourselves.
'Just have self belief' How many times have we heard that? Those words have been handed over to us as easily and as simply as passing an umbrella when it has started to rain.
I don't think it's this huge force summoned on demand, obliterating everything difficult. It's not a burst of light which can suddenly be produced, blinding everything unhelpful.
It is more often the accumulation of whispering questions 'Are they really right about that?' 'Why would they want me to believe that?' and the quietest of all, 'Maybe I can?'
It's the granules. The granules which climb over and push against each other, building. Building a mound of sand, a layer of brick, a wall. For you to stand on.
Writing has actually been pouring out of me these past few days, but part of it is being put towards a slightly different 'project', and the rest will be coming in posts shortly.
This isn't exactly a poem, more a thought turned into a piece, based on a choice, a choice myself and someone else took on how to react to a situation when many others, especially in a teenage culture, could have taken a very different path. I will confess it was a small matter in the long run, but it still touched me, and I ended up writing about it. I hope you enjoy it:
She turned to me, looked down to ground and laughed a little, uncertainly.
The general feelings we held in plump of heart were probably quite different
Yet whilst anticipation still hung in air for both,
Familiar humour was already strolling in, and we talked.
Bitter cool could have arisen in-between us
Hurt thrown in unleashed verbal spears with
Cackling self-preservation trumping everything, and
Jealous-ridden, triumph-smirking pen could have drawn
Huge angry spikes across the friendship.
It felt like that’s what they wanted.
Something, someone, some prediction out there
Sneering and calling out sour outcome.
They didn’t get it.
We went and understood;
Walked up to gates, unlocked and
Spoke sincerely, laughed;
Laughed blissfully in their expectant faces.
We even indulged in teasing what had tied us,
Exchanging some fond mock, some wit in that.
So there it was;
We stood together,
One genuinely, unashamedly confessing,
The other smiling, admiring her act.
Alexandra Shaw x