by Sarah Fader and Courtney Keesee
I love myself. But, there is this societal trend of forcing people to love themselves before others. If you can’t love yourself, then you can’t love another person. I don’t believe this to be true. The emotional connection that comes with loving other people escalates my self-confidence: loving other people makes me feel great. Calling attention to wonderful human beings makes me feel good about myself too. It’s not all about me. When I was in a deep dark depression, I would focus on the good in others to get me through. Loving yourself is a process. It’s something to work towards. Let’s honor the appreciation of other people.
Self-love is a journey; sometimes a lifelong one. I grew up struggling with self-confidence and self-love. As a child, I was insecure, needy, scared, and often questioned my existence. I blame depression for this and also the fact that I didn’t know how to ask for what I needed with confidence. Now that I am in my thirties I have a slightly better understanding of myself and what my needs are. I am able to speak out and put myself first when I need to.
Self-love can be a wonderful thing.
There is an important distinction here: loving other people does not distract or take away from loving yourself.
Let’s say you are challenged by the idea of loving yourself. Perhaps you cannot yet see the good in yourself. But, you are good at seeing the beauty in others. This is excellent. You are one step closer to loving yourself. Why? Ask Courtney.
MAYBE I’M NOT AS MUCH OF A PIECE OF TRASH AS I THOUGHT
My name is Courtney, and I call Sarah my mom. She is a maternal figure to me as well as one of my closest friends.
I have experienced severe depression. I have tried to kill myself thirteen times. hat’s a lot right? But I am still here, and that means something. Guess what though: it had nothing to do with loving myself too much to be able to do something like that.
No, I survived because I loved others.
While thirteen times is a lot, I can not count the number of times I wanted to and didn’t take any kind of action other than yelling into the void. And the reason I did nothing more than that is because I love my little brother who wouldn’t understand why suddenly sissy wasn’t around anymore. I love my father, who has dedicated the last nineteen years of his life to me. I love my friends who would feel so guilty if anything happened to me. “Why didn’t I see it?” would echo at my funeral, with muffled cries of “No this can’t be!”
Ironically, everyone I have ever loved had characteristics about them that people say I have. Each one had something huge about them, like one person being so giving they literally gave me the shirt off their back; something I myself have done.
And through loving people that I find to be so amazing, I have come to love myself in one way or another. Because if that person who is so amazing, can love someone like me, maybe I am not as much of a piece of trash as I thought.
The reality is that self-love is not essential in order to love another person. Loving yourself is a journey. It is not something that you can do overnight. We are all searching for acceptance and self love as human beings. It takes time to get to the place where one truly loves himself. In the meantime, we can show the people in our lives that we appreciate them and love them. That can provide a sense of gratitude and warmth that is incomparable.
Sarah Fader is Courtney Keesee’s spirit mom. They enjoy engaging strangers in conversation about sexuality, gender, and mental health advocacy, especially on public transportation. Both of them proudly work for the mental health non-profit Stigma Fighters. Courtney is a genderfluid writer from southern Virginia, while Sarah is a sexy single mom from Brooklyn. Find them respectively at http://www.sarahfader.com and http://www.courtneysvoice.com.