The uncomfortable truth about self-love

Joanna Paje, Staff Writer

Recently, the movement toward self-love and independence has skyrocketed on all platforms of social media. While this warms my heart and gives me hope for the future generations as a whole, I believe it is imperative to define just what self-love is. 

The lines between self-care, self-love and self-indulgence, I’ve noticed, have blurred. As someone who has been practicing cognitive behavioral therapy for months now, one thing has become obvious to me: self-love is uncomfortable. It is gruesome, and it forces you out of your comfort zone. It makes you reconsider how you have treated others in the past, how you’ve treated yourself, how you treated romantic partners and how you treated your friendships. It is wholly understanding your past and present selves in order to further improve your future, and it is especially understanding that what you do in the present will affect the days coming. At the end of the day, you are the one who has to make choices that will benefit you in the long run. 

Personally, I see it like this: self-care is taking a nice, warm bath in the morning when you wake up. It can also mean stretching after a long day and putting on your favorite face mask, staying hydrated or watching your favorite movie. Self-love, on the other hand, is forcing yourself to brush all the knots out of your hair and get dressed when you get out of the shower even if you want to lay in your towel for the next three hours and give into the sadness. Lastly, self-indulgence is giving into the temptation to spend copious amounts of money to make yourself feel better, even though you know that money is tight. 

Self-love doesn’t always feel good. Oftentimes when I do it, I find myself itching to run back to my toxic tendencies because it’s familiar and it’s far less intimidating. There are days when I want to just lay down and cry, ignore all my responsibilities and then inhale an abnormal amount of caffeine. There are nights where I want so badly to fall asleep, but I’d rather stay awake and scroll through TikTok because I can only find peace and solitude at four in the morning. 

But I can’t do that. I know that if I do, it will hurt. It may feel good at the moment, but when I wake up the next day at nine in the morning to go to class, I’m going to regret it. 

I’ve noticed that as you get older, you approach an age in which you have to parent yourself. There is no one to tell me to get up and eat or do my homework: I’m the one who has to remind myself to function like a normal human being. I have to tend to my responsibilities. I have to get up and do something to make myself feel better. I have to go to sleep and let myself rest. Why? Because you have to love yourself. You have to take care of yourself, because in reality, no one else will. You have to keep taking steps forward even though it feels like the world has iron shackles chained around your ankles. If you’re struggling to get better, then you’re probably doing it right! I know that sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true. It takes a great amount of strength to pull yourself out of problematic situations you find yourself constantly being drawn to. Fear, sadness, anxiety and depression – the feeling of it can become addictive and that is the most dangerous vice to exist. The amount of will you need to haul yourself out of anxious or depressive episodes is sometimes unimaginable, but it is definitely doable. 

The journey of self-love is hard, and it is so incredibly uncomfortable. It may not be what you think it is at all, and that’s okay! Growing as a person and redefining who you are outside of your trauma is a daunting experience, but it gives me hope to see how so many people are already willing to make the jump. If this resonates with you, then you’re already on the right track and I wish you nothing but happiness and the best of luck.