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The Daily Post has issued a Weekly Writing Challenge to finish the sentence: “I wish I were”.

I have spent a lot of time learning to love and accept myself for all that I am and not to dwell on the things I wish I were.  I have made the choice to change the things in my life that I wish were different, either by action or perception.  But for the sake of the question, I will play along. Maybe I wish I were able to fly? Maybe I wish I were wealthy or a Nobel Peace Prize Winner?  Yes, those things would be nice, but the answer does not satisfy me. In order to find the answer, I quieted my mind.  Completely void of all thought, I posed the statement again. Ah, yes.  My answer. My truth.  My greatest wish.

I wish I were able to share the joy of loving yourself. 

If someone had asked me five years ago if I loved myself, I would have rolled my eyes, answered “yes” and thought to myself what a ridiculous question that was. Of course I loved myself.  Maybe someone with low self-esteem or battling depression would answer that they don’t love themself, but c’mon, the majority of us love ourselves. Don’t we?

Today I would argue there are many people that do not truly love themselves.  Why do I believe that, you ask?  Every time I hear someone tease or bully, I do not hear love, I hear fear. When I listen to someone boast at length why they are the best on their team, the smartest in their office or the most good-looking person at the beach, I do not hear love, I hear insecurity.  When I hear people gossip or speak negatively of others and belittle other opinions, I do not hear love, I hear a plea to be accepted.

In my experience, realizing you truly love yourself is like the first time you have a serious crush, and you wonder if you are in love.  You think you might be in love.  You think you are.  This has to be love, you assure yourself.  Then one day, you really fall in love.  Head over heels, shout it from the rooftop, make your head spin and your knees weak, love.  And once you recognize that you are in fact in love with this person, you realize the time(s) you thought you were in love, you really weren’t.  Yes, you loved and cared for the person, but you were not in love with them.  This is love. Now that you know what being in love is, you can hardly believe you thought you were in love before.

When you are in love with someone, you want nothing more than for them to be happy.  Their joy brings you joy.  When they are sad, hurt, grief stricken or filled with sorrow, you would give your left arm for them to smile again.  Their success is your success.  You are willing to move cities, change jobs, cancel plans, quit smoking, lose weight, attain more education, all to make them happy.  Their happiness is your happiness.  This is love.

Here is a little food for thought. Are you willing to move cities, change jobs, cancel plans, quit smoking, lose weight, attain more education, in order to make yourself happy? Do you have faith in yourself?  Do you believe you are worthy of love and all of the good things in your life? Do you believe you deserve to be treated well, with kindness, honesty and compassion? It took me years of self-reflection and working on myself to reach the point where I can say “yes” to all with complete confidence.

A few years ago, I decided to finally put myself first.  I realized that the key to happiness could only be found within and that I needed to fully explore what that really meant.  I removed all previous notions about what I thought I needed to be happy and started to pursue the people and activities that brought me happiness.  During my period of self exploration (which is now ongoing) I learned a lot about myself, the need for forgiveness, the importance of acceptance and how to be patient.  I learned to just be.  I learned to exist in the moment and to be happy with who I am.

Years ago, I never would have been able to say out loud that I am proud of myself.  Now, I can tell you that I love how kind and accepting I have become. I think it is wonderful that people can change and that I give them a second (and sometimes a third and fourth) chance.  I think my sensitivity and vulnerability is beautiful and strong.  I think it’s endearing how gullible I am – it means I am a believer.  I love how open and resilient my heart is. I am grateful I see the world in all its many shades and revel in the beauty. I love that I enjoy spending time alone as well as making hoards of new friends.  I love that I love me.

This love I have found for myself has taught me to be patient, kind and accepting.  Loving myself makes me love the world more and all of the people, creatures and plants within it. I wake up alone every morning, feeling more loved than I ever could have imagined someone could feel on their own.  I wish that everyone knew this kind of peace.  This kind of joy.

I wish I were able to share the joy of loving yourself. 

Yours truly,

Erin Terese

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