AP English students at Leadership Prep School Frisco recently shared their thoughts in response to this prompt.
Love is infinitely abundant in our world, but, sometimes, it can be hard to express. The wrong circumstances can lead to feelings of animosity. Even if those feelings are not deeply genuine, at the moment, they can feel all-consuming. To be able to truly love somebody and have a caring, giving relationship, you must first be able to recognize the importance of loving yourself, as well.
Without self-love, your treatment of others can easily deteriorate. When there is no firm basis … no strong foundation to maintain the love within your very self, it can be easy to release negativity into the world instead. Our world has enough negativity, though. We must all understand that love is one of our most valuable possessions and that it is meant to be shared so others can feel the same joy as us.
The journey of sharing love begins within us. As aforementioned, you must be at a strong and healthy point in life to be able to give your love to others without being drained by your efforts. People are beginning to realize this more, taking needed alone time for self-recovery so they can be better-equipped to love others.
Loving is about sacrifice, yes, but not self-sacrifice. Love is about compromise, but not compromising your mental health. It is all about finding that balance because a loving relationship needs to be equal parts giving and receiving, and when you are at a point where you realize it is unhealthy or even impossible for you to give any more, that is when it is time to temporarily step away. There is nothing wrong with taking some time to figure things out for yourself, and everybody needs space, occasionally. If we all put this into practice and focus more on loving ourselves first and reaching a healthy state of mind, then our relationships will improve as a result.
It can be confusing, though, to figure out how to ask for this needed space, or even to figure out what to do with it once you have it. Everybody relaxes in a different way, or enjoys different things, but nobody knows yourself more than you do. Do something that makes you happy. It is as simple as that. Do something enjoyable, rejuvenating … some form of self-improvement that you can monitor. Set a goal for yourself on where you want to be by the end of your self-love hiatus. Asking for a break can be difficult, but if you are with the right person, they will understand and embrace your desire to take some time to make yourself happier. Once you have your space, you will know when the time is right to return. Once you feel happier and like you are at a solid point to return to giving love to the world, then you can do so as you please. Your mental obstacles will be removed, making loving others a much easier thing to do.
Always love yourself first, for this is the body and mind you will keep. Life is too short to worry about pleasing others to your own detriment, so make sure to take time, if needed, to care for yourself and return yourself to a place where you can confidently spread love to the world and loved ones. Be your best you!
By Katherine Bouis
When you treat yourself without love, you invite others to do the same. On the other hand, when you learn to love and validate yourself, you make it easier for others to reciprocate these actions and thoughts. Far too often, in today’s society, we look to others in order to validate ourselves. Like any other teen in high school, I have insecurities, doubts and negative thoughts about myself, which have led me to realize that I do not usually tend to forgive myself for my imperfections. We start using others as comparisons — as a comparability just to make an excuse to bring ourselves down. That is the big issue! We worry so much about why people are seen at higher levels than us, and they become a threat instead of a friend. We all face this problem, whether you realize it or not. We experience it at school, work, home … it can happen anywhere. I personally was one struggling deeply with this. I know many teens do, and it is not easy at all. It is actually like a cycle.
Many teens have parents who expect us to be perfect. Parents want us to be really successful because, honestly, they probably hope we become better than them. I know parents out there would truly say kids are their pride. If we disappoint them, it brings them down. They feel shameful because they rely on others (their kids) to be their self-confidence.
We get caught up pressuring our loved ones to make us happy. That gets in the way of showing them our true love for them. Therefore, we must love ourselves first. We must love our lives, our personalities and our unique features that God has given us. I know it is hard to love yourself when there are so many other people in the world who you admire, but the funny thing you should always remember is that the person you admire may also admire you or someone else.
Everyone has imperfections and doubts, and everyone gets insecure sometimes, but when you use that and twist it into something positive, it brings a happier you … and you want to be happy so you can spread happiness and love to others. If you are wishing to be admired, trust me, people will admire you for showing your love and kindness to them.
You do not need to have the best clothes, shoes, phone or “perfect” life that you want to pretend you do. I was very surprised when reading an article that said it is scientifically-proven that the most attractive thing in a person is their smile. People are going to love you, respect you and look up to you just for being happy with yourself — for putting that smile on your face and showing that you love yourself.
The Bible says, in Corinthians 13:4, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” This passage sums up everything that is most important in life and spirituality. It tells us how we must act toward others, and, at the same time, reveals God’s nature towards every person. I want to emphasize “it does not envy.” I understand, as humans, we do envy and get mad for not having what others have, but when you learn to love every bit of yourself, you find it easier to withdraw all that anger and the negative emotions you delineate for someone else.
When we come together, it becomes a beautiful thing. It is so amazing to see how strong the power of love is. It can fill our hearts and minds with pure gratefulness. It lets us see the world from a whole different perspective. Humans are built for connection, and it is through connection with others we learn the most about ourselves and we heal. I cannot count the number of times it was through the eyes and hearts of my loved ones that I was able to see myself as worthy of love. Their love got me back on track, so I could keep moving toward my own love of myself.
By Esmeralda Ventura
Love is perhaps one of the most complex and mixed emotions that humans possess. Philosophers, film producers, singers and perplexed teens have been attempting to comprehend love since before civilization began … with limited success. Society attempts to say love is already there – that it appears in a moment. But, most married couples will likely inform you that there is much more to love than a “zing” or some other movie cliché. Love for others, whether romantic, platonic or familial, is ultimately centered in your regard for yourself. How you regard yourself, and the self-love, or lack thereof, that stems from that perception is what controls your love for others.
An individual with a healthy amount of self-love will not strive to degenerate others. We often hear of bullies, whether adults or children, who display arrogance and disdain for others. They do not have enough appreciation for themselves, so they attempt to make others feel the same way. Even narcissists, who, at an initial glance, would appear to have far too much self-love, can still be observed diminishing those they feel are inferior, and demanding reaffirmation from others to inflate their ego and self-worth. However, an individual with no self-love will endeavor to love others beyond their normal capability.
I have grappled with depression and suicidal ideas most of my life, so I know what it feels like to have no love for yourself. I have spent time in a mental hospital, and the children there are the most loving and caring individuals I have ever met, but, at night, they will attempt to steal pens from nurses to harm themselves because they no longer love who they are. I have observed that the most self-destructive and depressed individuals will often attempt to shower those around them with love. They do not feel worthy of their own respect, and so they would sooner give it away than keep it for themselves. And, yet, I have also observed that the people who love who they are and what they have become will also attempt to shower you in love. Just as someone with no self-love does not want you to feel as unhappy as them, someone full of self-love will want you to feel the same way. The two extremes will both love on you, but wouldn’t you also want to love you? If you only have a little, then you will likely bring others down in a vain effort to raise yourself up.
An individual who only has a little self-love is likely to degrade and demean away at others. An individual with no self-love is likely to love on others to the point of emotional exhaustion. An individual filled with healthy self-love is likely to love healthily on you.
By Andre MacKenzie
Always put yourself first, they tell you. Fix your own problems before you fix others’. Check yourself before you wreck yourself. In a fast-paced world, everything seems to be about yourself and never anyone else … whether it be with selfish intent or not. In an individualistic society, possessing a sound and radiant love of yourself is pertinent in order to diffuse love and positivity to those untouched by it.
The vast concept of self-love proves to be the key to solving issues of bitter hatred and resentment amongst people who may not experience that same love for themselves. Loving who you are allows for comfortability in one’s own skin, illuminating the image of a sound mind and soul. When you are stable within yourself, you become a beacon to those who otherwise could not find that same love on their own. Being this light allows others to follow in those footsteps and discover within themselves the love that is devoid in their life. They then begin to walk amidst the trials faced throughout the journey. Yes, it is a lengthy process and, yes, it is not something easily understood right off the bat. Just by guiding someone to a path of self-healing, you are providing them with a hope that the same love you possess for yourself is attainable for them, as well. Become an image of positivity you would search for when you are feeling down and out. Become so comfortable and confident in yourself that peers converse about how they wish they were in your shoes.
Loving yourself is no easy task, but the rewards reap plenty and are spreadable. Expel positivity for yourself like the sun and be the stepping stone to someone else’s path to inner happiness.
Opposingly, inner love and peace can oftentimes be perceived as an outlet for self-centeredness and egotism. As harmless as it may appear, your positive emissions could be negatively handled by those only on a mission to seek and destroy. Their well of love has run dry and they often believe everyone surrounding them must endure the same drought-stricken hatred for themselves that they do. The love you are experiencing, as seen in their eyes, appears to be that of gloating and is evidence you are revealing to the world that your life is better than theirs. Those people are only out to hurt because something within them is hindering their ability to feel such compassionate feelings for themselves. Whether it be a past trauma or simply the refusal to let warmth and affection in to their devoid heart, they want you to feel emotions of misery and desolation on their level. In their minds, love is as appealing as being forced to meet new people. It is uninviting and awkward and possesses the ability to end up in embarrassment or heartbreak. Deep down, those weary people desperately seek that same connection between mind and soul, but fret the idea of it ending horribly, and therefore only want to stay in isolation to protect themselves from disaster. The adamant, ever-present image of self-admiration flows through the entirety of the world’s population, but may be unattainable at certain periods of life for some.
Differing circumstances call for differing variations of the idea that self-love is achievable to all, but by being a beacon of self-admiration, you are able to expel positivity to those who are shrouded by disparity.
By Sydney Hansel