I love you. I love you perfectly.
I love you. I love you. I love you.
I say as I stare at the reflection right in front of me.
If I say it enough, maybe I will believe it?
Or at least that’s what my feed tells me.
Maybe if I have the perfectly conditioned slicked back hair, glossed lips, no-makeup perfect skin, I’ll love myself?
Maybe if I journal perfectly every night and drink tons of water I’ll love myself?
Maybe if I have the perfect friends to make the perfect memories with, I’ll love myself?
Maybe if I get the perfect grades and the perfect jobs, I’ll love myself?
Maybe if I have all of the above, and more, and balance it perfectly, I’ll love myself?
But maybe I won’t.
As someone who always needed things explained to me in a tangible way, I didn’t understand what it even meant to love myself. Love other people? I knew how to do that because I’d done it before and I knew it was love. But love myself? I didn’t know how to do it or maybe I did but I didn’t know it was self love. I never really felt the need to understand it before coming to college. At home, I could easily latch onto things I’d known for so long—my family, my best friends, getting into college, etc. But as soon as I got here, all of those slid from below my feet. I was struggling to find a new sense of identity. I turned to everything imaginable—new friends, new on campus organizations, career, instagram, wellness blogs. However, I turned to all of them at once without understanding the importance of moderation. As transient as stuff it is, the whole “perfect plan” I had crafted also slid from under my feet because I couldn’t handle everything at the same time.
I won’t say that I completely stopped paying attention to what instagram was telling me my perfect life should look like. Overtime, I just got tired of it. I got tired of running after some arbitrary destination that I never seemed to get closer to and out of rage, I gave up running. I was angry at “perfection.” I was angry at having to spend my days speeding to get to the next one. That rage made me look at myself in a different way. In a way that I’ve never seen before. I started thinking about what I liked to do and who I was, which I can't even put into words. My need for tangible actions was gone. I started taking myself out on dates. I went to coffee shops and looked around, observing the repetitive yet exciting process of taking orders. Everyone seemed to have a story—someone was running late for work, someone was working on a project and someone was reading a book. I started noticing things that brought me joy—things that external agents didn’t have to get me. I realized that I loved trying to write comedy. I wasn’t any good at it but I loved it. I loved walking in the rain. I loved being able to help people. I loved striking up a conversation with a stranger. I loved asking questions. I loved creating. I loved taking horrible pictures. A lot of these things are nothing special, but I realized that they were me. I loved not being perfect.
I now stare at the reflection in front of me. I say I love you. I love you perfectly.