In the wise words of RuPaul, "If you can't love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?" I'm a firm believer that self-love and self-reflection are intimately linked.
I'm a glutton for self-evaluation. Stacks on stacks of journals line my windowsill, brimming with memories, theories, and embarrassing observations from much younger versions of myself. Don't even get me started on how many online personality tests and quizzes I've taken...
My latest guide for self-reflection, a guide into this endlessly mysterious landscape of my mind, heart, gut, etc. is tarot. I'm studying this form less as divination and more as a platform for evaluation. I'm learning as I go, giving myself readings and journaling about the cards, their placement, and what connections I draw from these prompts.
In the middle of my third amateur, self-given reading with my brand new feminist deck, in flipping through references and piecing together spreads and suits, I came to the discovery that this particular placement of this particular card could be telling me that "self-love that does not evolve is condemned."
And my mind went whirling.
See, I thought I had cracked the code. I'm one of those millennials lucky enough to have "found myself" on foreign shores. I can trace the growth of my confidence and affinity for the world and my place in it from the beginning of my solo travel journal to the end.
I knew what self-love was and how to feel it, wear it, celebrate myself in it. And I had. The thing is, the self-love I found for my solo-traveling, college student self doesn't quite fit my newly acquired "adult" self.
Because life, in her ever-changing ways, keeps turning me into new versions of myself. I am growing, evolving, learning, changing.
And yet, I was trying to fit myself into the frames of self-love that were now a few years old. I was trying to still be the person I was in college. Because that was a woman that I loved, a young woman who knew what made her happy and how to exist fully in the sweet, soft bubble of undergraduate life.
It wasn't until I was confronted with this tarot card on a sunny afternoon, that I realized my concept of self had changed, and with it so must my love. An evolution I had yet to consciously embrace.
And in this moment, I forgave myself my shortcomings. I acknowledged that my confidence has been challenged, that this strange place we call the "real world" is nothing like the structure of school. There are no syllabi, no rubrics, no clear steps to success, achievement, or fulfillment.
And for a school-loving nerd like me, my dive into "life" hasn't exactly been an easy transition. But just because I've been flailing a bit, just because I feel less sure of myself and my choices, now that I'm free flying among the masses, doesn't mean I'm any less worthy of love.
I am learning to treat myself more kindly. Learning to accept that I am a creature that will change and change again. And learning that love, in any form, is not something stagnant. It must be allowed to evolve.
I hope we can all allow our love to grow alongside ourselves. We're all changing. So must our love. Let it grow.