“Learning to love yourself, flaws and all, is an ongoing journey.”
– Beryl Otchere
My journey of self-love has been an ongoing process for years and began early in my life. Specific experiences and negative ideas that were planted in my mind in childhood by some of my peers took root. And it wasn’t until many years later that I realized these ideas were so predominant in my psyche.
I went to a primarily Caucasian elementary school. This experience showed me that when you look different from everyone else, it can easily become a basis for teasing by other kids. I’m a dark-skinned, Ghanaian girl with typical West African features like big eyes, a wide nose, defined cheek bones, etc. My features were very distinct from that of my classmates. From kindergarten, I have a few very distinct memories of two boys in my class making fun of how dark my skin was and how big my nose looked. As the cliché would have it, I don’t remember what exactly they said, but I do remember how they made me feel. I felt ugly, odd-looking, unwanted, and an outsider just by their words…
Side note – our words matter. Words can build a person up or break them down. And we oftentimes never know the full impact of the words we say. So we should all be mindful of the words we speak and endeavor to speak in a way that is positive and builds people up.
So throughout my childhood and teenage years, I walked around with a false perception that I was ugly. It was an idea that I accepted wholeheartedly and it led me to also believe that it would be a miracle for a guy to like me one day. When people told me that I was pretty, I never believed them. As I look back on those days, I wonder why I maintained this mindset.
One day, however, my paradigm of self-love began to shift.
Around 2012-2014, even as I had recently lost my dad, my faith was beginning to grow and I was beginning to believe so many truths – that I was redeemed by the blood of Jesus, that I was valued more than I could ever imagine by the God of the universe, and that I was fearfully and wonderfully made. As I grew closer to God, I began to realize that my worth was found in Him and that I was created uniquely and beautifully in His image.
Meanwhile, I started following Youtube channels ranging from beauty and fashion to vlogs to religious content. At this time, many of the voices I was listening to were speaking on the idea of self-love and how we should all believe in ourselves and see our own worth before anyone else can. It was the beginning of a movement to empower women. This was the beginning of my own empowerment.
From then on, I was inspired to begin to view myself differently. The combination of God revealing to me the importance of self-love along with listening to people I respect speaking on self-love led me to take the steps needed to love myself. As fate would have it, just as I was beginning this journey and valuing myself more highly than ever, I met the man who would one day become my husband. What perfect timing on my journey.
Here are some steps in the process of learning to love yourself…
“You is kind, you is smart, you is important.” - Aibileen (The Help)
Just believe that you are all of these things and more. You are beautiful.
Keep on learning to love yourself.
Author - Beryl
Beryl has a passion for writing pieces that uplift, inspire, and encourage you to bloom. She's been blogging since October 2018.