If you’ve ever truly been in love with someone else, you know that it’s a feeling nothing else in this world can replicate.

How are we supposed to feel like that with ourselves? Our own worst critic? Our own attention-striving ego?

Among the spiritually inclined (a term I use very intentionally), the major message is self-love. It all starts with you.

And it does. Having battled with diagnosed depression + social anxiety for 15+ years, I can tell you that self-hatred was a root cause.

I didn’t trust myself/my intuition/my inner voice. I didn’t like parts of my personality that made me different. I didn’t like the things about myself that we’re truly me, but “inconvenienced” other people.

Maybe you’ve felt that before. Maybe you’re feeling it right now.

Over the years, through talk therapy, medication, Yoga, self-study, and a lot of crying in the corner, a quote emerged that I still say to this day:

If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else? – RuPaul

That’s the ticket! I’ll simply flip everything 180 and love myself unconditionally. That will fix it, right?

Wrong … so hilariously wrong. There is no 180. There is no magic switch.

Instead, the self-loathing continued to grow as I learned new skills to bury on top of it. Maybe I’ll become a Yoga teacher. Mabe I’ll move to New York City. Maybe I’ll divorce my husband.

Yeah, totally – it must be something external that I need to do to help the love inside of me bloom, right?

Oh honey … no. But doing all of those things sure taught me a lot about myself – what I’m good at, what’s I’m not good at, the type of people that piss me off, and most importantly, what I want for myself in this short lifetime.

Good news: I stayed with my husband – we’ve been together for over 13 years now. Suprise: I don’t love him every day, but I adore him as a person and the immeasurable amount of growth we’ve both gone through because we support each other in every way.

I don’t always love the choices I make, or how much quiet time I need to feel sane, or how little time I can comfortably spend “working” before I feel like I’ll suffocate, BUT I am infinitely curious about how I can grow + improve my inner self so that my 80-year-old self will love me.

To put it simply, I’ve turned my inner voice into an incredible obnoxious toddler, asking “… but why” about my knee-jerk reactions, annoying habits, + learned prejudices.

Isn’t that why some kids drive us nuts? Always asking “why this, why that?” It’s because they’re asking questions about things we’ve shoved into a dark corner, hoping to ignore – our habits, biases, + larger social issues that boggle our minds (like what’s the point of being f*cking racist?!).

I don’t need to love myself to help others. I don’t need to love myself to love my husband. I don’t need to love myself to improve myself.

The RuPaul quote is still a powerful one (with a damn good point), but this one makes more sense to me now:

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. – Rumi

Whether you put the barriers there yourself, or they came from family, friends, the media, society, or something you experienced once, your ultimate goal in this short life of yours is to be curious, find those barriers, + get rid of them. Break them, shove them over, climb over them – whatever it takes.

Now, loving myself would be a nifty bi-product of being curious + compassionate about myself as I figure out the unique blend of DNA, experiences, favorites, influences, + unscientifically quantifiable Soul material that is Victoria Klein.

And then, push past all the labels + be happy. Right now. Whether you love yourself or not.

It’s OK to not love yourself. You don’t have to. Seek to know yourself – love is not something you can force. Love comes with time, patience, + curiosity.

P.S. This is not easy. This is hard work. This is messy work.

But I’d never ask you to do something I wouldn’t do myself.

You got this.

Life is an experiment.

Stay curious. Ask why. Go deep.

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