A month of (self) love
We look forward to the love filled month — words of endearment, chocolates filled with mystery jellies, time spent with significant others, and everything seen through a shade of pink. I’m still haunted by my kindergarten party, when I found myself home from school, sick, after shoving one too many of the Rolos in my mouth. Yet, I can see the attraction. I’m a sucker for Dove chocolates (dark, with almonds), sweet words via cheesy cards, and I can appreciate a decadent steak, topped with garlic butter. Yet, this Valentine’s Day, I decided to look at love through a slightly different lens.
Social media has been a staple to me — and to my generation — for years. I can remember snuggling up on a Friday night with my first best friend, eager to see who was available to chat on AOL Messenger. I was unabashedly proud after the creation of my first Twitter — on which I shamelessly tweeted lyrics from Rihanna’s “Umbrella.” The day I stumbled upon Instagram is also permanently etched into my memory, because I came to the realization that I looked significantly prettier beneath one of the filters.
I tell you all this to say that eliminating Instagram cold turkey is more difficult than it sounds. Yet, for me, this February was less about significant-other-love and more about love-yourself-love.
Here I am, alive after two weeks without Instagram. AND, I’m even challenging you to do the same. Can you believe that?
Each January, I make resolutions — along with every other woman in America.
• Lose 10 pounds by March…
• Run every day…
• Take better care of your skin…
• For heavens sake, do not eat Subway’s foot-long sandwiches 4 times a week…
For a few weeks, I do really well. Then, like everyone else, I fall off the wagon and spend the rest of my year scolding myself, waiting for January to roll around again so I can give it all another go.
This January, I decided to change it up a bit. One resolution and one resolution only:
love myself more.
Perhaps loving yourself more looks different to everyone. To me, this meant eliminating anything that led me to ask, “Am I enough?” The answer to that question — no matter who you are — is most certainly yes. Yet even when I whisper it to myself, it seems to fall on deaf ears. It sounds like something a mother or grandmother might reassure you with, allowing you to find solace during an unbearably awkward pubescent stage or after your first breakup. There’s no way that it can really be true, right?
Here I was, endlessly scrolling through Instagram and asking myself, “Am I enough?” It was whispering to me to change my body, asking me why I have gained weight since high school graduation, suggesting to me that perhaps I don’t have as many friends as I should, questioning why I stayed in for the night when everyone else found something to do. Often we think of social media as a slippery slope, leading us to judge others’ lives. I found that it was quite the opposite — I was looking at the lives of others and judging my own.
People establish identity in millions of ways, from millions of things, a million different times over again.
I am kind, I am smart, I am hardworking…
I should say these things to myself more often, I thought. I am a daughter, a sister, a friend, a granddaughter, a student, an in-the-car-singer, a wanna-be-lawyer, an over-eater, a red-wine drinker, a book reader, a Subway sandwich lover. I believe that Jesus carefully crafted me, set a path before me, and watches over me each day as I clumsily stumble down it trying to find my way. I wake up each morning, hoping to have a big heart that day. I want to be compassionate, I want to be warm. These words speak to a worth not based on my physical appearance, but instead upon things that I was innately born to offer. These things are deep down in my soul, in the unique spirit of who I was born to be.
Words like these, although all different, can be found in everyone. These are characteristics that we should be thankful for, proud of, that we should celebrate. These are characteristics that give life to dreams, goals, passions, relationships, and friendships. These are the words that aren’t celebrated on Instagram. These things can’t be posted. These things can’t be captioned. So why, if I am all of these things, do I wake up each morning and check something on my phone that tells me I am something else?
Perhaps there are different things that challenge different people in different ways. Facebook. Twitter. A memory. A job. A coworker. A boss. A friend, who perhaps is not so friendly after all. A show on television, excused as being a “guilty pleasure.” Your MySpace page, for those of you still hanging on ten years later — although if that is the truth, there may be other issues to be dealt with. If our strengths are so widely varied, then I like to think that the things that tear us down are equally as varied. Yet, I also like to think that eliminating the “enough” question has the same solution no matter who you are.
I like posting pictures of my dog in the sun, tongue out and ears perked just right. Of a sunset that I chased, caught right before it buried itself behind the skyline. Of breakfast foods that looked just right, get-in-my-belly good, on my plate on a Saturday morning. I will download Instagram again, the app that I so desperately love to hate. But this time, I will rid my feed of the accounts that make me call into question my self-worth. The accounts that encourage me to compare myself. The accounts that make me think, “If only I was more like _____, I might be a better Katie.” February reminded me that I like this Katie, that this Katie is who I was made to be, and that there are things that need to be accomplished in this world that only this Katie was made to do. And if that’s the truth for me, then that’s also the truth for you reading this.
My challenge to you is that whatever it is that each day makes you ask, “Am I enough?” — Let it go. Let. It. Go. Let it go. For a week, a month, or however long it may be until you are saying, “I am enough…And you know what? I love myself.” Although some days I may again forget, the unwavering truth is that I am enough.
Originally published at happyinthemiddleblog.wordpress.com on February 27, 2017.