In the past, self-love was something completely unheard of. It was non-existent, at least, to me. I was this insecure young lady that had little to no confidence – I couldn’t even bring myself to look at people in the eye when I spoke. I was so insecure about everything – my face, my hair, my skin. I was so conscious of my flaws that every time someone talked about it, not even about me, I would find myself in tears. I remember those moments where I would stare at myself in the mirror thinking was I born ugly? Why was I born with so many flaws? Writing about this now is enough to make me cringe but it needs to be said.
My high school life was agonising and onerous. Up to this moment, I still have recurrent nightmares. Being a teenager, that is the time where we make mistakes, tons and tons of it in hopes that we could learn from them and save ourselves from repeating them again someday. To expect perfection from a teenager is like expecting a new born baby to start walking. What are we, Jesus? Ironically, we get judged so much during those times by adults who were supposed to be the ones to educate you. I still remember that very moment when I was called on stage for scoring straight A’s for my PMR and this ustazah came up to me and said, “Oh don’t be too happy it’s just luck.” If I had the courage as I do now, I would have said something but instead, I just smiled. That moment still lingers on my mind every now and then and her condescending sneer is still vivid. How could a person who presumably should have known better would say that to a fifteen-year-old? Sure, I wasn’t an innocent one. Instead, I was a rebellious teenager who would occasionally (frequently) skip classes and dye my hair blonde and red (darkest moment of my life) and had guy best friends and dates men (I remember finding out a picture of me and my ex was circulating around the teacher’s lounge) and I would skip homework but intentionally hurting people is the last thing I would ever do. I am not an evil person, delinquent yes. Aren’t we all? From an A student, I simply did so bad in school because I lost my confidence and motivation to even be a student. For the longest while, I thought I wasn’t good enough, i was the worst, i was the most horrible person, and the list goes miles away.
Throughout those years, I felt as though I was the queen of misfortunes – school life, friendships, relationships, family issues. Nothing was ever right. The dramas seemed rather unabating and incessant. At that juncture, I felt that I had nobody even when I was surrounded by many friends. I felt my world was falling apart. And without realising, I had subsisted on constant need of people’s attention and admiration to make me feel good. When that is running dry, I would feel empty again and the void was simply so profound that I would always end up being unsurprisingly unhappy and unsatisfied. With this, I would often get upset over the most inconsequential things like when your best friend has other best friends or when my boyfriend doesn’t give me enough attention. It is an addiction like drugs –you feel the highs when you have it and when it is not within your reach, you are back to being that miserable person you truly are. It was when life began to throw a few hard punches it made me realise that the world does not revolve around me and my problems aren’t special.
That was the onset of my self-love journey. Initially, like any other withdrawal symptoms – you would experience the profound anger, the bitterness, the absolute bafflement, the pain all felted into one fabric. The truth hurts but it is the truth. And that is okay. The sooner you accept that, the better your life is going to get. You should not feel entitled to certain treatments or ways just because you feel that you deserve it. Nobody owes you anything (Unless you are fighting for a minority group etc). Since my teenage years, a lot has changed and I thank god for every bitter moment I have had to experience to stand where I am today. It is not to say that I am the best person there is but right now, I am a better person than i was and I am always trying to be a better person than I am today. I cannot truly emphasise the importance of loving yourself my dear friends (including all of your flaws, every stretch mark, everything). No that is not a selfish act.
Once you have learned to love yourself, you would not settle for less when it comes to relationships or even friendships because you know what your worth is. You would stop letting others treat you like shit for that matter. I have never been more confident in myself; I no longer live to please others. When you have learned to love yourself, you would no longer seek approval from others and be reliant on others to make you happy. You can be happy on your own. And you will no longer let your expectations crush you because you are able to do it on your own. Having someone that could love you the same way (or even better) is a blessing and you deserve it. Loving yourself will remind you how you are enough, you matter, you deserve to be happy and that is enough – it is okay if you aren’t the prettiest, the smartest, the richest, the most talented, the person who has it all figured out, you matter. Live life at your own pace, strive to be better, do not be intimidated by others opinions that are relentless frankly speaking. Love yourself then only you’ll be able to be happy and grateful and inshallah, more better things will come your way.