An honest letter...
Par Fatimata Keita
Imprisonment, or its sentiment, is present in all societies, however liberal they may be. The pressures that emerge from living in a community can manifest in many forms. Today, despite a multitude of liberating concepts, we can still be tamed.
Indeed even the noblest causes can be hijacked, and movements such as body positivity and self love can become our tormentors by dictating how we love ourselves. And if being your own muse is at the same time the most grueling and pleasurable thing, a way to become is to understand/love yourself.
I've always been one of those people who thinks that love is very much a reflection of ourselves. And in this idea of a singular love, I don't think there is only one way to love and especially to love ourselves. But yet, all those movements urge us to accept ourselves in order to love ourselves! And while I agree with that notion, I think the verb ‘to accept’ is too often restricted by forgetting everything it includes.
Certainly, ‘to accept’ means to receive, to take willingly (what is offered, proposed). But also submit! And even its synonyms: ‘to resign’, ‘to endure’, are relevant when it comes to learning and relearning how to fall in love with ourselves.
Why? Because we can't just readily take everything we have, love each part of us inconsiderately! Some parts will take longer to discover and even more to understand so what about appreciating them? I think we shape ourselves through an infinity of things, so it is through this infinity that we exist, this giving us infinite ways to love ourselves.
If being yourself is not always simple, loving yourself will demand an incredible amount of effort. But with this good foundation comes the knowledge of who you are and aren’t, and also the knowledge that this doesn’t have to be a dead end. You can be what you are not, you can learn and unlearn that you build your own life.
To be completely honest, this piece has been particularly difficult to write for me. Indeed, a couple of weeks ago I started to feel trapped in a tornado of thoughts, making it impossible to escape disturbing ideas and get things done. I was vividly letting myself drown into idleness. And obviously during this time loving myself was nowhere near in my plans. Which is crazy because the day before I got the pitch for this blog, I was writing on the topic. At the time I felt so great about myself. But life moves so fast and we go through so many phases.
I went through the wondering phase, which happens to me a lot. It’s when I start asking myself questions about a whole lot of things, like why do I want to change this? Is it because I’m not comfortable with it? Because people around me make me uncomfortable with it? I repeatedly ask myself why living is so exhausting? Why is it so tough, for the soul to stand through the chaos, the world’s and ours? At some point I was praying for a tear. You know, the tear that makes you stop the pity party and decide that you should get up and do something, but there was nothing! Just the wind and the rain on my skin. At this moment, I’m barely alive. I’m not sad, and I’m definitely not happy. I just am. And that’s terrible.
But in those desperate moments, there’s those few seconds, a few minutes of clarity that I tried my best to use well, to have meaningful reflections followed by actions. I realized that sometimes, you have to let go of everything you knew or thought you knew to create something that is really you. You need to acknowledge those fears, catch them and fight them. Yes, most of the time you need to fight yourself to find yourself. And I think this is the true essence of life and of love. Dismantling the world you were created in, piece by piece, in order to build one of your own, piece by piece.
We have to remind ourselves that loving ourselves is not always pretty, and that getting up, day after day, pain after pain, even when who we are is a blurry thought, is love already.
We grant patience to our people, allow them mistakes and unconditional love, but what about ourselves?
Patience is a skill that I definitely have to improve. I’m usually more patient with strangers than to my people and more patient towards them than towards me. This journey of wonders highlighted it very well. I had to question the love I had for myself and why today it seems like it wasn’t enough to go through the day.
This phase taught me that the days you don’t love yourself are just as important as the days you do. Because those, as frustrating and exhausting as they are, make you search for new ways to discover and embrace yourself.
“It does not count if you believe in yourself when it's easy to believe in yourself. It counts when it's hard to believe in yourself, when it looks like the world's going to end and you've still got a long way to go. That's when it counts.” — Iain Thomas