Collage concept by Sajeda with images by chenspec from Pixabay
Sajeda Choudhury discovers that we must first love ourselves, to love others and the world
When we are constantly focusing on the past and future, it’s easy to forget how far we’ve come as a generation.
Our journey of self-love ultimately starts from our awareness of both the good and the toxic surrounding us. We notice how the boundaries between chivalry and misogyny blur; how protection becomes control and love turns to hate.
Where does this toxicity originate from? Us.
The human mind is a picture unfinished. We are guided by emotion, self-preservation, money, dreams and more. When we love, there are no boundaries; when we hate, it’s an emotion that can tear us in two. Even when we reach a state of numbness, our brain is still in overdrive.
Our mind is vastly complex, especially when it’s understood in the context of social constructs. We are infinitely influenced by the trends of our society, good and bad.
It’s crucial to commend ourselves for getting to this point, when toxicity has been instilled in us from a young age. We learnt how to love ourselves despite the barriers in our way. To continue, it’s essential to see what we have overcome.
I read harmful books without regard, and it impacted the way I understood and defined love
Growing up, the typical female representation in books was my barrier to understanding the extent of self-love and discovery. My younger self didn’t comprehend the harm of reading books exploding with misogyny and toxic masculinity. And that’s the critical point. It was all normalised, which is why it’s a barrier, as stereotypes are ingrained in our society.
I read these books in my tiny room I shared with my sisters. I read them while eating junk food. I read them before I went to bed. I read harmful books without regard, and it impacted the way I understood and defined love.
Why didn’t I question that a partner telling me what to wear was not caring and protective? It’s controlling and further endorses the idea that women should dress to avoid the male gaze.
Throughout time we have been subconsciously justifying the actions of males. Male behaviour is so often brushed off as ‘boys will be boys’. This flawed thinking has led to warped relationships, where the deformed definition of love has been perpetuated in supposedly ‘loving’ relationships.
Toxic relationships are romanticised and enabled by this malignant idea of ‘enduring love’, that true love withstands all difficulties and covers all sins.
So, our conscious realisation of the toxicity surrounding us is a pivotal moment in our self-love journey. When the love between us and someone else isn’t enough and when we realise our reality is designed by us and no one else, our happiness becomes our responsibility.
Love is about more than fairytale kisses and butterflies; it involves respecting ourselves… and preserving our individuality
Distinguishing between what is good and bad for us symbolises our progression in society, which further cements our proclamation that you and I are powerful beings.
Self-care is more than face masks and pamper sessions. It’s necessary for wellbeing because health is wealth. Self-care ensures we are hydrated, allowing us to take a break when needed. Self-care is a social media detox, and self-care is following our dreams.
The truth is, our self-care is dependent on how we want to construct our reality, what we want to stand for and what we ultimately want to do with our lives. Love is about more than fairytale kisses and butterflies; it involves respecting ourselves, our partner and preserving our individuality. So think about how you would like to leave a footprint on this world.
All I know is, I want to leave this world knowing that I fought to be myself, that I fought so others could be themselves. Fighting for dreams and against all forms of discrimination and harmful cultural norms is how self-love is revolutionising and will continue to be so.
Funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, distributed by CommUNITY Barnet Giving has helped us with this work. Thanks to National Lottery players for making this possible.
Sajeda is an English student at King’s College London, where she is endeavouring to find her creative spark to pave her way towards a future filled with writing and books. Sajeda hopes to one day use her creativity to help dismantle ignorance.