Self-love can be a tricky concept. But, Vanessa, that makes no sense, you might say. It’s in the name, right? Self-love = loving the self, right? Well, yeah, that’s certainly not wrong. But I think that’s a bit of a simplistic view to take. People are very complex creatures so naturally our relationships with ourselves are nuanced and sometimes confusing.
I would wager that most people have aspects of themselves that they want to change, whether it’s a physical trait or a personality trait. Sometimes we have lists and lists of things that we would tweak given the time/energy/resources to do so. But if you commit to self-love, then surely these desires will go away, right? Probably not, unfortunately.
Again, our self-love journeys are just as complex and unique as we are. The way I see it, self-love is a balancing act between accepting yourself as you are right in this very moment with all your quirks and “flaws”, and working toward your transformation goals. Maybe you want to lose weight, break a bad habit, cultivate a positive trait like empathy or patience, become a better friend or partner, or fix that one problem spot that has plagued you for years. And that’s okay! You can still want to change aspects of yourself while loving and accepting yourself. These two desires are not mutually exclusive.
This is how it works. Let’s say you have a weight loss goal and want to get healthy and fit and active. That’s great! In fact, self-improvement goals can be a great act of self-love. Here’s where it gets tricky, and sometimes even dangerous. You’ve started working out and being more aware of the fuel you put into your body. You’re taking your measurements and keeping an eye on the scale. You’re putting in the hard work and dedication, absolutely determined to achieve your dream body and lifestyle. The great part of all this is that you’re taking care of yourself, you’re giving your body what it needs both in terms of food and activity and that is very admirable. But when you’re in the thick of it, it can be so, so easy to lose sight of the here and now, or you may be hyper aware of the here and now. You might be so wrapped up in the exercises and meal planning that you forget to enjoy yourself and pause to pat yourself on the back for going after your goals. Or you may find yourself focusing on why you’re not seeing the results you want as quickly as you want and beating yourself up about it and overexerting yourself in the process.
That is not self-love. That is punishing yourself for not immediately transforming into the person or body you want. You can keep plugging away at your goals, whatever they may be, without putting yourself down or engaging in unhealthy behaviors to do so. Check in with yourself regularly, appreciate who you are right now, and love on yourself for taking the leap and doing something that is making you feel happy and fulfilled. You were great the way you were, you’re great the way you are now, you’re great as you make this transition, and you’ll be great in the future when you start experiencing the fruits of your labor! So enjoy the ride!
I’ve recently experienced my own transformation goal that has pushed the boundaries of self-love for me. And by recently I mean today! Today I took the plunge and “fixed” something that has been a complex of mine since middle school. Today, I got my brows microbladed! If you don’t know what microblading is, here’s a quick rundown. Microblading is essentially a semi-permanent tattoo (yes, you read that right) that is applied in minute, expertly placed strokes to mimic the look of real brow hair. I know what you’re thinking. Tattooed eyebrows?! The horror! We’ve all seen those examples of the solid, blocky, straight line tattoos that look anything but natural. Microblading is a different beast. Because the microblading artist tattoos each individual “hair,” the results are often indistinguishable from what regular brows look like. You’d have to run your finger over them to feel the difference between what’s just skin and what are actual hairs. But don’t do that immediately after getting them done! You do not want to take a trip to infection town (I’ve heard it’s an unpleasant place to be).
I started noticing that I wasn’t happy with my natural eyebrows in middle school. Of course, it’s the age where you’re really starting to become aware of yourself and how you act and what you look like. Many ladies start experimenting with makeup and clueing into fashion trends at this time. Eventually I realized that my brows were just really sparse. Seriously, unless you got up close you wouldn’t even be able to tell that I had any hair at all. I was insanely jealous of my friends who were starting to tweeze their brows, because they had brows to tweeze! Thus began my journey of filling them in every day. I started out light, with a gray brow pencil that I borrowed from my mom’s makeup stash (hint: she has the same problem) but I still wasn’t satisfied, so I started making them darker and darker. Sadly, most of my high school photos are marred by my garishly drawn on sharpie style brows. Yes, I was one of those. Luckily once college rolled around I tamed them back and went with a softer brown brow gel to fill in. But let me tell you, it is a pain in the ass to fill your brows in every single day. Maybe you know the struggle. I didn’t even want to go to the grocery store without them on. What if I ran into someone I knew and they saw me in my natural state! I would be mortified.
But as I got deeper into self-love, I came to terms with the fact that these are the brows the gods gave me, and even if I don’t particularly like them, they were a part of me and I wouldn’t waste any more of my time agonizing over them and beating myself up about losing the eyebrow lottery. Sure, they weren’t ideal by a long shot, but it just wasn’t worth the self-hatred and crippling insecurity. I figured I would continue drawing them on and accept that as a fact of my life. But once I stumbled upon the relatively new practice of microblading, I was sold. This was my chance to finally address this thorn in my side! I was in love with the idea of being able to roll out of bed and go about my day without worrying about sitting in front of the mirror for 30 minutes to fill in. Unfortunately, our budget never allowed for me to take the leap and the artist I had my heart set on in my area was constantly booked out a year in advance which is a testament to her great work. So I put it on the backburner for a few years.
When I heard that a friend of a friend had just gotten her license and was offering free microblading sessions in exchange for portfolio photos, I immediately made an appointment (after stalking her Instagram to see her previous work, of course) and that appointment was today! And I am over the moon with my new brows! It feels so liberating to know that I’ll never have to pick up the brown pencil again.
Was I cute with my filled in brows before? Of course! Was I cute au naturale? Of course! Am I cute now with the brows I’ve always dreamed of? Hell yes! It’s all about finding that balance between loving yourself as you are now while still acknowledging that you can change for the better. Sometimes making a change can lead to that confidence boost you’ve been craving. Drop a note below and share with us something that you’re working on improving as part of your self-love journey!