I probably won’t listen if you do. 

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Why does everyone expect me to love myself? 

First off, take a hike. You don’t tell me what to do. 

Secondly (and a little more rationally) — 

How the fuck am I supposed to do that? 

You need to know someone to love them. Or so I am told. Even people in progress, like babies, children, or the recently sober, we love for their potential. We know what they could be, and appreciate their current state of blank-slate learning. 

I think I know everyone else in the world better than myself. 

Obviously, that’s hyperbolic. I don’t know everyone in the world. Like Vladimir Putin. Who is that guy? What’s his real story? I bet it’s scary, but it intrigues me. 

It’s also an exaggeration to say that I don’t love myself. 

Don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t hate myself or anything. I am a perfectly acceptable person, as far as I can tell. An average person with average problems. 

It’s just that, to myself, I am a stranger. 

How could I know who I am? I have no way to observe myself. I will never know what my face looks like while concentrating, when I light up with joy. Even if you recorded me twenty-four hours a day, I’d still only learn so much. Too often we are clouded by the layer of flesh between our actions and our judging brain. I try to guess how my actions and communication will be perceived, but how could I ever know? 

I do appreciate it when people tell you to love yourself. I’ll sit here and complain about the exact wording, but its a nice intention. There have been plenty of times that I needed to hear “be proud of yourself” or “forgive your mistakes so you can learn”. And that is what I heard, when people told me to love myself. 

But I still don’t “love myself”. Not like I love others. Not like a family member, or a friend. Not like a person I can see, observe, and interact with. I’m surprised by other people, get advice from other people. I’m used to myself.

I bore myself. 

So tell me to be kind to myself. I am kind of stuck with me. Tell me to be understanding, to forgive. Teach me to find myself interesting, if you can. Tell me what my strengths are, so I can find pride in them. Ask me what parts of my personality, of my past that I like, so I remember to focus on those. Ask me my dreams and help me achieve them. 

But don’t ask me to love myself. I really do like myself. But it’s just not something I know how to do. 

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