I love you

“I love you.” Those are three very small but powerful words to say as a sixteen year old girl.

Looking back I remember thinking to myself that it wasn’t true. Both the act of saying and hearing the words felt fake. As if they were forced.

Being honest with myself, they were fake. At sixteen, it’s difficult for anyone to believe those words are true but, at that moment I hated that I couldn’t believe it. Staring at my sixteen year old reflection, I kept saying it over and over.

“ I love you.” Still, I knew that the words I was forcing myself to say were not accurate. There were parts of me that I liked, but there were many parts I did not like. I hated that I didn’t love me. Hate is a strong word to use but then again, so is love.

I can’t remember if it was one of those self help books from the 80s or maybe a podcast from a motivational speaker, whatever it was I remember learning the concept that the more you love yourself the easier it is to love others. Although it was an abstract idea, I thought I would give it a go. Even at sixteen I was a big believer in the power of words, so I figured I might as well start by verbally expressing my love to myself. Although it felt awkward and untrue I continued to push past the ingenuine feeling. After realizing how hard it was for me to believe those words coming from my own mouth I realized I had a big problem to address.

That was the day I decided I would stand in front of the mirror each morning and tell myself I was in love with the person who stared back at me. For the first couple weeks I continued to feel a guilty pull on my conscience. I wanted so desperately to believe myself but I wasn’t quite there yet. I didn’t notice it at first, maybe because it wasn’t so obvious, or maybe because it presented the change in ways I wasn’t looking for.

After a couple of months of my new morning routine I was asking myself questions like, ‘Why do I feel the need to wear makeup?’, and ‘Why do I want him to like me when I don’t even like him?’ and many other simple revelations that overtime sparked an honest friendship with myself.

As my relationship with myself got healthier so did my other relationships. My perspective of the people around me began to change. I started to naturally see the beauty in the people around me. I felt as if I suddenly had the gift to see past others faults. I honestly had no idea how this came about but as I reflect back over that time in my life I am able to pinpoint the main shifts I put into place at sixteen.

By the time I was eighteen I was looking at the reflection of someone who I genuinely love. I now realize that the love I have for humanity sparks from the love I hold for myself. The more I accept myself, the more natural it is to accept others. The more beauty I find in myself the easier it is for me to see the beauty others hold. The more love I find for myself the more love I want to give to others.

“I love you!” Those are three very powerful and meaningful words to hear and say as a twenty one year old girl. The only difference between when I say it now and the first time I said it, is the fact that at sixteen I said it because I wanted to believe it— now I say it because I mean it.

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