“So payat!” “You look good!” “Blooming!” “What’s your secret?” These are words that I’ve been hearing quite a bit since I started practicing the art of self-love.
See, I have been insecure for most of my life, still am in many ways. Insecurities that stopped me from taking care of myself, loving me for who I am, sharing myself with the world.
My aversion to self-love.
For the longest time, I did not find myself pretty. Since I was a kid, I had the notion that being smart and compassionate were enough. My looks were never on the top of my list of priorities. I guess what my Dad said stuck with me – “Nasa pagdadala lang yan.” (It’s in the way you carry yourself.)
Looking back, I see what he means. He’s not the most handsome, nor does he have the perfect skin. But, I’ve witnessed him turn heads – from people of all ages and preferences.
He is oozing with confidence. My Dad enters the room as though he owns it. And, he is smart and witty. Plus, he is not bad looking.
But, I did not have my Dad’s confidence. I did not want people to notice me. I did not want to stand out, more so, to shine and bloom.
I believed that I am not pretty.
As I hid from my rainbow, I also shied away from compliments and kind words. I deflected any mention that I am beautiful. I would question and be critical of how it is said, if they really mean it, or if they were they just being “nice” to me.
On the other hand, it will take no effort from anyone to convince me that I am fat, that I look old, ugly, that I have imperfect skin, that I am unattractive.
It was like I owned these words, these descriptions. It was like I defined myself as the smart, can-be-pretty, but looks old and oily, with lots of acne scars. And, anyone who says otherwise must be joking.
The breakdown before learning the art of self-love.
One day in September 2019, I caught myself bawling for looking like crap in photos. And, that was huge considering that I rarely gave a sh*t about my physical appearance, or so I would like to make myself believe.
But, once or twice, I also caught myself crying intensely because of unkind words told to me by people I cherish. Things like – “You are too fat.” “You should stop ordering fast food. You are getting big.” “You look old.” “You should lose weight so you will look beautiful.” “You are beautiful only if you have smooth skin.”
Some said that they were coming from love. That they just want me to be healthy, practice self-love, and start taking care of myself. But, I felt insulted even if I believed what they told me to be true. Weird, I know. But, I guess part of me was saying that “Yes, you are right, but I hate your guts for telling it to my face.”
You create the way people interact with you.
I can’t blame them, though. We create the space for how people deal with us, right? If we want to transform their perception of us, we can speak up and have conversations with them. Perhaps they do not see how they make us feel. Maybe, they do not know the impact of their words on us because, from their perspective, they are only confirming what we believe to be true about ourselves.
So, slowly, I realized that my insecurities are getting the better of me. And that I had to do the work. Little by little, I admitted to myself that, truthfully, I wanted to look pretty. I wanted to feel beautiful.
It is not because I want people to admire me. Honestly, I still cringe at attention.
But, I wanted to feel beautiful for myself.
It is my way of honoring God’s gift to me – seeing the beauty in His creations.
I wanted to wake up in the morning, look at the mirror, and say “Tsk, ang ganda ko today,” while flipping my beautiful curly hair.
I wanted to look at pictures and just choose the BEST of all the pretty ones taken, NOT just the ONLY one or two good photos – I want to have options.
I wanted to wear my hair the way that it makes me feel pretty and comfortable, and NOT just because it’s the only way I can wear it that I don’t look like crap.
I wanted to wear clothes that I feel beautiful and hot in, not just because they’re the only ones that fit.
I wanted to have freedom. I wanted to be creative. I wanted to make my own space to express myself.
Learning the art of self-love: about time!
“I want to feel beautiful.” For years, I did not hear myself say that. I settled. I was very limiting of what I can and cannot do, how I can and cannot look. I would be quick at pointing out my flaws. I would have a long, descriptive, comprehensive list. But, I would always have to think long and hard before finding it in myself to say something nice about how I look.
That sucks. Because, if I didn’t love/appreciate/see myself, who else would?
So, slowly, I started embracing myself – my unruly hair, every scar on my face and body, discolorations, my acne, big arms, legs, and tummy.
And, as I started to love myself, I also started to take care of myself.
I’m eating healthier food choices (veggies almost every meal, yo). Since June, I’ve been working out at least 3x a week. And, as I stand for my well-being, I enrolled in a movement class for processing my emotions.
As a cherry on top, I’ve so far lost 25 lbs and 6 inches off my waist since that September day. Most important, I feel happy and beautiful.
No, it‘s not easy. It took a lot of help from my loving circle. Blood, sweat, & buckets of tears. And, choosing to open myself up to self-love.
I still have a long way to go in my journey, but I’d like to believe that I’m getting there.
In the next few posts, I am sharing my journey in more detail – HAIR, SKIN, BODY. And, I hope that it would inspire you to just go for it. Because, if a stubborn, self-deprecating near-middle age woman can do it and make the switch, YOU CAN, TOO.
Sending you love and good vibes,
P.S. Thank YOU! And, in whatever space you are in now, I hope that you got something from reading this post. Talk to you soon!