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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Love yourself and teach others to love you


Why saying “yes ” to others  can be a “no” to yourself

If I had a dollar for the amount of times I told myself  “I love me” and didn’t show it, I would be a billionaire. If I a had drop of water for every yes I gave to others and not to myself, I would build my own ocean.

If I lost oxygen for every time I said I can do something and be somewhere when I know I couldn’t, but I still showed up, I would be dead.

I know my metaphors are a bit melodramatic, but there’s a point.

When I really measure and evaluate how I treat myself, I realize that I don’t love myself. Somedays, I like myself, but I don’t truly love myself.

This lack of care and love for myself is not something that is innate. It is behavior I’ve acquired over time from my surroundings.

As a young girl, I remember learning the cliche line, “love is an action.” We learn that we should aim to be selfless and to show our appreciation, compassion, care and love for others. However, I find that these characteristics are things that are easier for us to extend to other people and not to ourselves.

Throughout my life, I have been surrounded by some of the most giving, selfless and strong women I know, most notably is my maternal grandmother.

As a child, I was mesmerized by her genuine heart and how she always put others before herself. However, it wasn’t until I got older that I began to comprehend that my grandma’s heart is not just genuine, it’s also broken.

She gives us her all and her best, but it cost herself happiness, health and sanity. Yet, she always says “yes” and means it. She says “yes” to taking care of her husband’s children, the outcome of his extramarital affairs. She says “yes” to caring for all her grandchildren and the family despite her declining health. Amongst the many yeses, none of them include herself.

I remember some nights I would lay next her, pretending to be asleep as I heard her attempting to silently cry, while I fought back my own tears.

When I look in my grandma’s eyes, I see myself and it scares me. I love her. She has literally been there from the beginning and taught me some of life’s most valuable lessons, but her lack of self-advocacy and self-love influenced how I view and treated myself, growing up.

My constant need for approval, suffering in silence, failing to say no when it matters the most, allowing men to degrade me, overextending myself and the various ways in which I don’t care for myself, I learned that from many of the women in my family, but especially my grandmother.

I am not sharing these thoughts to blame her. Instead, I am sharing them because I know there are deeply rooted familial, cultural, and generational reasons that never shares with me as to her lack of self-love.

I don’t even think she knows what it means. Self-love is not a topic of conversation  for someone like her, who grew up in the provincial parts of Haiti.

However, I share her story from my lens because I have witnessed first hand how the lack of self-love and inability to say no can deteriorate a person mentally, emotionally and physically.

I pray one day my grandma finds peace and loves herself as much as I love her and more. As for me, the takeaway summed up in tokens of wisdom from poet, Rupi Kaur, “How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you.” 

We must set the tone for how people treat us by loving ourselves in our thoughts, in our hearts in our actions.

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