Self-love: a term that worms its way into countless young females’ lives yet is often overlooked as something unattainable or unnecessary – and so it becomes somewhat neglected as fundamental to our wellbeing as women.
I like to think of us as intertwined with nature; I see many of our behaviours easily explained as a parallel to flora, thus the sunflower is going to be a running theme from here on.
This is going to be quite a personal and informal account of what self-love means to me, but I hope that by looking at it from my perspective it may help you make sense of what seems like a rather complex phenomenon.
Before I found feminism, the roots of my personality were struggling to take hold of the ground beneath them. I was thus held back from discovering who I was, what I was doing and where I was going.
Like many teenage girls, I found comfort in the worst place: calories. Before I knew it, I had become obsessive; my relationship with food and my body was at an all-time low and I was struggling to see any beauty in the world around me.
My petals were wilted, and my roots still couldn’t find their source of vitality to enable my whole self to bloom. I continued through the storm that I liked to call life, only finding short-term sanctuary in things which masked the underlying issues.
After a couple of years, I found focus in academia and I believed I had escaped the lost, depressive teenage girl that I had once been, and I began to see myself brighten up again into the sunflower yellow I had yearned for; yet the whole time I was failing to acknowledge that for so long I had never shown myself any gratitude or kindness. Thus, this new way of life was infertile and could never harbour a wholly prosperous spring bloom.
Focusing your mind elsewhere without tackling the root cause of your problems will only produce limited results: soon you will burn out and will still be unable to feel genuinely, completely happy.
I have only recently been able to comprehend the fact that my mindset needs to change: I need to be my own best friend and recognise that I am worthy of love and kindness, every single day. Self-love can be understood as the water and sunlight that our sunflower needs in order to grow to its full potential; in human terms this can be defined in whichever way you like, as long as it makes you feel loved by yourself.
Your worth is not defined by your appearance, your weight, or the media; it is defined by your compassion, character and attitude.
We all deserve to feel loved, but we cannot accept love from others until we accept love from ourselves.
My journey to self-love is just beginning; I am still a sunflower seedling trying to find my patch of sunlight, and I struggle at times, but I have the potential to bloom into whatever I want to be. As females, we are subject to infinite forces that try to knock us down and dull our sparkle, which is why it is so important for us to support each other whilst we are trying to take root.
Find the love for yourself that you deserve: be your own sunflower.
By Mary Ella White