With Valentine’s Day around the corner, a lot of us may have our minds fixed on romantic love. And while there’s certainly nothing wrong with spreading the love to our partners (get yours, sis) or even our girlfriends (Galentine’s, anyone?), February is as good a time as any to practice radical self-love. After all, we can’t pour from an empty cup!
Here are 3 musings on self-love from 3 badass Black women:
“I don’t trust people who don’t love themselves and tell me, ‘I love you.’ There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt..”
— Maya Angelou
The late and great Maya Angelou hit the nail on the head with this quote. Remember what I said about pouring from an empty cup?
When I think about self-love, I think about how it not only improves my relationship with myself but also expands my capacity to truly love others. When I pour into myself, focus on meeting my own needs, and be my own biggest champion, I have more genuine, healthy love to offer to others.
I can love you, but not at my own expense.
“I am mine before I am ever anyone else’s.”
— Nayyirah Waheed, Nejma
To love oneself is to own oneself, to take responsibility for and control of one’s own life. What I like about this quote from Queen Nayyirah Waheed is that it leaves the door open for us to “give ourselves” to others — to be partners, mothers, daughters, and sisters — so long as we first give ourselves to… ourselves.
I can be yours, but I am first and foremost, and always, mine.
“One day our mothers may ask ‘Who do you love completely?‘ May we grow to respond ‘Ourselves. Ourselves. Our lovely selves’. ”
— Upile Chisala
I’ll be honest: I’m still up in the air about the idea of unconditional love, especially in romantic relationships. But, what I’m realizing as I grow older is that 1) I better get to believing in it because 2) to live the life I’m called to live, I have to at least love myself unconditionally. I have to choose myself, honor myself, forgive myself, be myself, fully, over and over, ad infinitum.
Self-love is perhaps the most important love of all.
This February, I pray you can revel in all kinds of love. More importantly, however, I pray that you’re able to love yourself a little more — to keep your cup full even as you pour yourself out to others.