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Why Loving Yourself Is Important—You Must Love Yourself Before You Can Love Others

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“I exist as I am, that is enough.” — Walt Whitman 

I’m turning 28 in two weeks, and for the first time in my life, I completely feel my age. I haven’t been a child for a long time, but I no longer feel like a kid at the adults’ table. More than any other birthday in memory, I feel ready to greet 28 like an old friend who recently moved into town; now that we’re together, it feels like we were never apart.

My life is still messy. I don’t “have it all together.” I haven’t achieved everything I want to, or even checked off as many New Year’s goals as I’d planned to by this point. I still make mistakes, although much less of the same ones.

Yet, I feel settled. I feel whole and content and beloved. I’m existing exactly as I am. And for the first time in my life, that is completely enough.

In honor of getting older and a little wiser, I want to share with you 28 lessons I’ve learned about self-love this past year. Some of them were taught by my mentors, some are discerned from wisdom passed down from my family, but all of them are gifts from God.

Wherever you are in life, I hope you read them and feel inspired to add to your own list.

  1. Loving yourself is a process.
  2. It has no shelf life.
  3. It will never be a destination you suddenly arrive at and stay.
  4. That process is endless, composed of tiny moments of self-acceptance that slowly blend together until your life is flavored with forgiveness and grace.
  5. Loving yourself is a battle, maybe the biggest one of your life.
  6. On the other side of the ring is self-doubt, self-hatred, and most likely very real people who will try to drag you down.
  7. In your corner is God.
  8. Loving yourself is not a quick fix.
  9. It’s not a solution to your problems.
  10. It’s simply a gift that makes life better, makes it easier, and makes your days feel full.
  11. To love yourself is to be brave.
  12. To love yourself is to be more like Jesus.
  13. To love yourself is the first step in truly loving others.
  14. It’s okay to practice that first step over and over and over again. That’s called dancing.
  15. Love yourself for yourself, and no one else.
  16. Don’t love yourself in order to project confidence.
  17. Don’t do it because someone (including me) is telling you to.
  18. Love yourself simply because you know you deserve that honor.
  19. Loving yourself is not a selfless act. That’s okay. Be selfish with your own heart, your own mind, your own body. God gave them to you. They’re gifts to be cherished.
  20. Self-love is a well that doesn’t end. Once it cracks open, realize that falling is inevitable.
  21. Loving yourself is not a waste of time. Trying to love others well when you can’t afford yourself the same, is.
  22. Know that love comes from God. You can’t do this without Him. You can try, and it will be okay. I’ve done it. Trust me, it’s better with Him.
  23. Don’t postpone loving yourself in order to love others.
  24. Love isn’t a quantity. You can’t run out.
  25. Loving yourself is investing in your future, the very best investment you can possibly make.
  26. Don’t attach your self-love to any dream or marker of perfection.
  27. Perfection is a myth. Love is a reality.
  28. And finally, know that you’re capable of loving yourself better than you ever possibly imagined.

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