A Struggle of Self

Self-love is something so easily preached but rarely practiced; it’s something replicated in bath bombs and overpriced face masks, something used to validate actions we feel guilty for, something that now barely exists outside of the trend we have created for it. Everyone always says that the way to practice self-love is by taking an extra long bath or spending a little extra money on your favorite food, and while these things may influence happiness within us they don’t ever succeed in fostering the love we desire for ourselves.

I’m writing this from the perspective of a guy who wants nothing more than to feel confident around others, to light up a room or to light the hearts of those around him-- to light his own. However, I am also the guy that can’t seem to find that perfect recipe to loving himself; no matter how much I delve into Pinterest or how many Buzzfeed quizzes I take I never seem to be able to find the answer. I think that’s the real problem, as humans all we do is search for the answer. I know it will never be that easy, that there will never be a real fix to my problems, for as compassionate beings we have emotions and empathy interlaced within everything we do. We all like to think that we have the answers, but the truth is that we all find too much pleasure in the idea of fixing others. The sooner we can break down the ideology that to feel self-love requires something to be fixed, is the sooner it will fall into place.

There are people in my life who foster so much self-love within me; people who inspire me to embrace every mismatched piece of my body as the building blocks of my character. They help me put the puzzle together when I mix the pieces up. However, according to the internet and to society, self-love cannot truly be felt until it grows from within. Therefore, it’s not genuine when my girlfriend reminds me how lovely I am, but my 15 minute yoga routine will really do the trick?

The most unfortunate part of the internet is how large of an impact it has on so many millions of people; it’s a blessing and a curse, for so many people know just how to influence people in the wrong ways. We all remember that 2012 Tumblr post that claimed you could never love another person until you loved yourself first, so does that mean that the undeniable love I feel for my girlfriend is false until I can feel it for me, too? It’s deemed taboo to let others bring out the light in you, for that’s too dependent, but without dependency there would never be trust, and without trust where would our compassion lie?

When it comes to self-love, I feel as though there is an underlying truth that we scared to admit: this one isn’t so easy to figure out. It can’t be tackled in superficial ways, it has to be targeted, and the only real way to target it is to know who you are. If you’re like me, and you're not really sure, that’s okay. I bet you could think of at least three components to your being, for example: I am a guy, I really love dogs, and I love being outside. In those things I find some sort of solace, some clarity. I know that if I spend time outside or pet my dog I will probably feel happier-- and if you came upon this piece looking for a key I think that’s the only one you’ll find: spend as much time as you can doing things that make you happy.

If we surround ourselves in our favorite things, with our favorite people who inspire the best in us, we fill ourselves with this sort of immaculate joy. If we practice kindness, and take time to breathe, we will feel the positivity as it radiates within. While this is all abstract and personal to each one of us and while it doesn’t give any real answers, I believe it is the only way.

We, as people, have to learn how to separate ourselves from the things that hurt us, whether they are words, the negative aspects of the internet, or people in our lives. We are not walking art in the sense that we await critique, we are walking art in the sense that we were created for the intent of joy, and that is what we should foster.

By Ryan Vortisch

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