Chapter 1: Who Are You?
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Figuring out who you are is the first step to loving you. You can’t love something you don’t know anything about and you can’t give love to others if there’s no love in you to give.
As a 19-year-old who grew up in the world of social media, I was always exposed to the standards of beauty that looked nothing like me or had no interest in the things I found cool. In any hip-hop music video that was featured on BET’s 106 & Park, the love interest was always light-skinned (no shade to my light-skinned queens), petite, and had long straight hair. And there I was, the complete opposite. Brown-skinned, a little chubby with short, curly hair. I was the girl that was made fun of for being a lover of books and learning as well as not being skinny.
Needless to say, I was hurt. And as social media began to grow bigger, I found myself becoming more and more self-conscious. I wanted so badly to look and be like the other girls. I wanted my hair straightened all the time, I wanted to be a cheerleader for my school because I thought that, maybe then, boys would find me attractive. I was constantly trying to conform to what was trending online and what social media was telling me was beautiful. And even then, I still wasn’t happy.
I began to fall into a depression. It got to the point where I felt so worthless, unwanted, and unpretty that I just did not want to live anymore. I was constantly asking myself (and God) why I wasn’t enough or why I wasn’t pretty like the other girls. I just truly did not love myself.
I went to several different counselors, I talked to my parents, I tried to get involved with youth groups but, none of it worked for me. I began to isolate myself and my life became so encaged by social media because, online, I could be someone else. I felt safe online talking to people that didn’t know me in person and could only judge me by my profile picture. But, little did I know, social media was the reason why I felt the way I felt about myself. I was constantly searching for validation and love from people online when I should have been seeking those things from God and pouring them into myself.
After several years of living with depression, anxiety, and insecurities, I decided that I wanted to be truly happy. I wanted to feel loved and beautiful and the only way I could do that was if I loved myself first. But, I couldn’t love myself because I had no idea who Makiya was. I didn’t know what made her happy. I didn’t know what made her angry. And I could not physically pinpoint the things that made me feel sad or alone. Step one was to figure out all these things so that I could begin to find myself and I’m going to ask you to do the same thing.
DO THE WORK
Grab a sheet of paper and answer these questions thoroughly and honestly. Take your time and really dig deep; this is your truth. And the only way you can learn to love yourself is if you’re honest with yourself, queen.
1. What makes you smile?
2. What do you love about yourself?
3. What would you like to change about yourself?
4. What do you like to do for fun?
5. What makes you sad?
6. What makes you angry?
7. What gives you anxiety?
8. What scares you?
PUT IT IN PERSPECTIVE
Now that you have discovered what makes you happy, sad, anxious, or angry, it’s time to put it all into perspective. Even though some of the things you may have listed can be considered negative, you can use them to your advantage to create a positive circle of sanity around yourself. For example, if buying new clothes makes you feel good about yourself and confident in the skin you’re in, then make sure to set aside time out of your week and money out of your budget to pick up a new outfit every two weeks.
Or if being around certain people who, you feel, give off negative vibes and energy, makes you feel sad or anxious, make it a point to not feed into their negativity. As my mother always says, misery loves company and you have to be able to either a.) not entertain their negativity if you’re going to continue to be around the person regularly or b.) begin to distance yourself. You already have enough going on just trying to take care of you and taking on someone else’s negativity will only lead to you becoming negative or sad like they are. You become who and what you hang around so, to maintain your inner peace, surround yourself with those that are positive and uplifting.
It’s all about protecting your space, sis. And to protect it, you have to make sure that you respect it because if you don’t respect your space or your boundaries, nobody else will.
I am beautiful. I am smart. I am worthy of all things good. I know who I am and who I am not. I am not obligated to take on anybody’s negative energy. But, I am responsible for respecting my space and maintaining positive vibes around myself. I will learn to love myself throughout every phase of growth and love myself unconditionally.