A **Partial** Manifesto for Self-Love

I’m writing this because I need it. Because I keep thinking, “oh! I get self-love now!” and that I’ll never beat up on myself again, and then I find myself doing just that. And, duh, because self-love isn’t something you “achieve” and then never have to work at again. Just like everything else, it’s a practice. I know, ugh.

So even though I’ve been plagued by self-doubt lately, this doesn’t mean I’ve regressed or failed or lost something. Framing it that way is just another way to beat up on myself. And it’s funny, it almost feels like it’s noble or something to beat up on myself: like it’s better to just fess up and be like “no, look, I do suck.”

I can tell you this, no matter who you are: you don’t suck. I know that with certainty.

So why is it hard to tell ourselves the same thing sometimes?

Here, then, is my incomplete, urgent, necessary manifesto for a ongoing practice of self-love.

1. I AM REALLY FREAKIN’ IMPERFECT. 

I will always be imperfect. This does not make me less worthy of anything. I don’t need to “have it all together”. Nobody “has it all together”.

1a. caveat: I will not only be imperfect in “cute” ways. I’m not a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. My fuck-ups won’t all be adorable and kooky and laughable. No, I will mess up in major ways, and do things I regret. I will cry until snot is literally covering my face. I will spend too much money on really dumb things. I will blow opportunities. None of this makes me unworthy of my own love

2. I WILL NOT HOLD MYSELF TO IMPOSSIBLE STANDARDS. 

Not everything should come easy to me. I will not expect myself to be flawless. That’s a losing battle, and exhausting, and just plain unfair.

3. I TRUST THAT I AM TRYING MY BEST. 

Even when I falter, or mess up, or doubt everything, or feel terrible, I will remember that my intentions are benevolent. I am just trying to love, to grow, to be here in peace and harmony.

4. I DESERVE MY OWN FORGIVENESS. 

It is all too easy to keep punishing ourselves forever. But this isn’t helping anybody. It actively keeps us stuck in the place we don’t want to be. Until we can forgive ourselves, we can’t move forward into a better phase.

5. I WILL LAUGH AT MYSELF. 

Honestly, sometimes there’s nothing to do but laugh, even through tears. When I hear myself hurling ridiculous elementary-school insults at myself (i.e. “I’m a stupid idiot!”) I sort of have to start cracking up. What am I, eight years old? Let yourself laugh. It can lighten the load considerably.

6. I WILL HAVE PATIENCE WITH MYSELF.

Growth takes time. Learning takes time. Sometimes we have to make the same mistake over and over again until we finally get it. Sometimes we never really get it. Sometimes we have to cry for a whole day before we can get back to work. We don’t get to decide how long these things take. So I may as well take a deep breath, and allow myself to take the time I need.

Got any statements to add to the manifesto? Let me know in the comments!


Lily Myers is a writer living in Seattle, WA. She writes about feminism and self-love at her blog The Shapes We Make. Her debut novel, This Impossible Light, is due out now from Philomel.