Another Thought on Self Love

Self-love—a word, a mantra, a declaration, a journey, whatever you want to call it. It’s a word that’s been going around in the latter part of this decade, finding utterance in the mouths of thousands of women.

Why women? Many hold the view that it is because women have been trod on for so long, have been put aside and regarded as second-class citizens, prey to the misogynist and sexist society in which they found themselves in. However, in this now changing society with changing attitudes towards women, some women feel like they now have a voice, they can now focus on self, they are now seen as well as being heard.  More and more black women are doing the big chop, studying male dominated courses, owning their own businesses and just being entirely successful. I’m not suggesting that this is where self-love found its emergence but it’s a consideration as to one of the many factors that may have inspired this self-love movement. This movement has borne a lot of positive fruit, but it has not been without its challenges.

I was talking to my friend the other day and we were discussing the difficulties of self-love when trying to find love especially considering the African backgrounds that we were brought up in. We discussed how many women who thought they understood who they were would bend and mould themselves to fit the wants and needs of a man that they were dating.

I remember when I was talking to a certain guy, we’d gotten along well right off the bat and things were looking promising but halfway through I started to feel tired as I felt that I was performing for him to like me, to pick me. Before this guy, I’d had several conversations with a friend about what I wanted in a man and how I wasn’t going to compromise my standards and how it was about me choosing what I wanted but this all went out the window when I started talking to this guy. I tried to be funny all the time and witty but not too witty and whatever it was that he seemed to like. I was so caught up that I didn’t realise how boring he was and how unimpressed I was by him because I was so distracted by getting him to like me. How pathetic is that?

Anyway, my friend brought up the fact that we come from a background where a woman is always trying to please the man, from the way that she is, to the way she dresses, to the way she talks etc. Some of us have been subtly primed from birth that our purpose is to please the man, to cook for him, to keep him happy so that he won’t stray, to provide male babies (this ignorance makes me gag but hey thank God for information and knowledge) etc. Self-love seems to be a word that our mouths haven’t properly developed the taste buds for.

I’m not saying that doing all the above means that you don’t love yourself or that a man is controlling you. I’m also not in any way condoning selfish behaviour, saying things like I’m not doing all of this because I’m loving myself or I’m doing me. I’m saying that living for a man’s approval is detrimental to the soul, to our happiness. I’m saying that to love ones-self is to know ones-self and ultimately to understand the factors that have made it a challenge to do so.

I’m saying that self-love can be quite difficult and it’s hard to not resort to people- pleasing especially when it comes to relationships. Personally, self-love is a word I have had to re-learn about a dozen times, after several heartbreaks and rejections and each time I learnt something new.

What are some of your thoughts on this? Feel free to share some of the challenges you’ve encountered in your self-love journey.



Jasmine N Cannon-Ikurusi