I'm 24 and I finally figured out what self-love is. I've talked about it, posted about it, and argued for it but I didn't really know what it is. Today marks the day that I learned a bit about what it actually is.
When you love people it's impossible to think of them as dirty.. Or at least that's what Dr. Lewis Gordon said in class today. This really helped me because i got to thinking. If that's love, what is self-love?
Isn't self-love a refusal to see yourself as dirty? To recognize your faults, areas that need improvement, your growths, your achievements, and your beauty? Isn't self-love humanizing yourself to yourself?
We talk so much about humanizing marginalized, exploited, and colonized people. We say that they deserve to be recognized as human, conceived as people who can evolve, or perceived as individuals who can feel and be a myriad of things. And we engage in the process of humanization when we marvel at the sight of others not treating them as beings who deserve dignity. We engage in the process of humanization when we become champions for their God-given rights. We engage in the process of humanization when we recognize mistreatment and demand that people be respected.
I've done this for oppressed folk. I've considered myself as being apart of the group but in my time spent humanizing oppressed folk, I have rarely thought or treated myself as someone that needed to be humanized.
I have rarely practiced humanizing myself to myself.
I've actually done the opposite. I've dehumanized my own self to myself by expecting myself to live up to unrealistic expectations- expectations I would never ask of others, as a sign of respect and understanding of human conditions. There have been too many times where I was complacent about people disrespecting me. I have often failed to recognize when others treated me badly, failed to speak up about it, and failed to question other's misconceptions about what they owed me as a human being.
In no way am I saying that I let myself be abused or that I haven't been vocal about how I felt when people have wronged me.
Regardless, humanization takes more than outrage at injustice. Self-love requires more.
And because self-love requires more, it is hard for me to imagine how I could simultaneously recognize my faults and my beauty. It is is difficult to see how I might recognize areas where I need to improve in a way that doesn't unjustly limit how I'd go about conceiving my growths and achievements. But this is the messiness that is humanization. It's difficult to see where the line is between making excuses for people and being understanding about their plight. It's difficult to imagine someone's imperfections and still think of them as a decent person who is worth caring for or giving second chances. It's difficult but as I try to figure this out for others I will make it a priority that I try to do the same for myself.