Through my growing process, one thing that I know I have learned is that the way you give out love says much more about who you are than it does the people you are giving it to. There are so many times especially as Black women, we tend to exert this tremendous amount of energy and love into other people. Black women have always held the “strong, independent” persona, learning how to take care of everyone else before we really have the chance to take care of ourselves.
Self-love is such a major topic these days. You see so many articles on it, but what does it actually mean? Self-love is a daily decision you make to love yourself and put yourself first. I know personally in relationships, I am always the giver. I give and I give and I give. Women are taught to be providers where emotional energy becomes currency. Everybody wants it. Boy, does the world take all they can get!
Do you find yourself giving too much away? Our time is precious. Our energy is precious. Our love is precious. It’s not to say that others don’t deserve it, but do we really give ourselves what we need before we go handing it out to everyone else?
My love is my own.
My joy is my own.
I know that I am responsible for keeping my self-joy and self-love at a high rate. Who else is going to do it? I’ve learned that no one is really responsible for keeping me happy. It’s a blessing to have a great support system around you, but you have to learn how to be your biggest fan first. Learning to clap for yourself when no one else is around is an everyday learning process. Whenever I get frustrated with someone I love for not treating me a way I want to be treated or for not living up to the expectations I put them up to, I know I have to take a step back and look at myself. What am I putting out into the world? What frustrations do I have on my part that need to be worked through? There is so much inner work to do.
I remember how much time I spent praying and thinking about how much this guy I loved could really be great if he just did this and did that. I was even bold enough to tell him that he needed to get his life together. At the same time, I was very depressed because I was not happy with my own life and what I was doing. I was so busy trying to love this man that I had forgotten I had my own needs.
I did not feel complete without him. I felt like he was my everything, and that I needed to do whatever I could to help him. I obviously learned that lesson the hard way. My love for him actually had nothing to do with him. Sure he has potential, but what about my potential that I also was not using? My love for him illustrated to me how big my compassion for others is. My love for him through our struggles allowed me (eventually) to love myself even more. No matter what trials my relationship was going through, I became absolutely amazed at how beautiful I was to love someone else the way I did. I had to ask myself that even if I had the perfect relationship I wanted, would that be enough? I realized I had to put all of that energy and prayers I was putting into him, into myself! I have so much to learn, so much growing to do. I was completely lost. I was not using my talents or learning anything new.
Everything is about perspective. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the world, we forget to come home to ourselves. How many times have we given other people the amount of love we don’t even give to ourself? Even the best people in our lives will leave us in some sort of way or another. We cannot afford to miss out on so many of life’s joys just because the world doesn’t give it’s love so freely as we would hope. As poet Rudy Francisco says…
Perhaps we should love ourselves so fiercely, that when others see us they know exactly how it should be done.