Last week, I faced myself in the mirror and told myself, “I am beautiful”. My tone was firm and unwavering.
“I. Am. Beautiful.”
To be completely honest, I did not believe myself at first. In the past, I had always been intensely insecure about my appearance, always internally accusing myself of being ugly. Whenever someone complimented me on my appearance, it had almost become permanently wired into my nature to reflexively respond, “Thank you, but I think you may be visually impaired”. Indeed, we live in a society where self-hate is a prolific act. In the pursuit of perfection, we are our worst enemies, obsessing over things ranging from body weight to nasal structure.
Eventually I realised that this incessant self-deprecation was becoming increasingly detrimental. I was losing confidence in myself. Then, I came across a poem- a delightful written piece about the ambiguity of beauty. There are 7.125 billion different definitions of beauty in this world, and I finally came to the realisation that I am one of them.
There is a fine line between loving and appreciating oneself, and downright hedonism. Loving oneself should not be seen as synonymous with excessively indulging in materialistic goods. Instead, self-love involves recognising your beauty, sowing in yourself the seeds of confidence, and ultimately, becoming aware of the fact that, in this world, you are your most valuable companion.
The path to loving myself was arduous and full of uncertainty. Everyday I would stand before the mirror, searching for my own beauty, even though it was always present before me. I would pass by my reflection in shop windows, reassuring myself that I am beautiful. I wrote myself a poem to capture my own beauty. I took myself on little adventures in an attempt to get to know myself better. And no, these were not acts of vanity. These were acts of self-appreciation after years of the exact opposite.
Soon, I fell in love with myself, and I realised that only when we love ourselves as much as we love those around us, will we ever truly be happy.
Sadia Ahmed, 2016