Adventures in PHAcTiveland
Have you ever been told that you weren’t __________ enough? Well enough of what you might ask. Maybe you were told that you weren’t smart enough or pretty enough. Maybe you were told that you weren’t small enough or maybe not big enough. You could have been told that your skin wasn’t light enough or that your hair wasn’t straight enough. Or maybe vaguely stated that you weren’t qualified enough? Well, I’ve been told several of those things before, yet I unapologetically and wholeheartedly love myself and all of my perfect imperfections.
Hello, I am Chontel Je-Anne Parker, the self-proclaimed PHAcTivist and I’m here today to serve as a “tour guide” and to assist with this part of your journey. What is this journey in which I speak of? Well it’s a life-long journey that is just as individualized and multifaceted as the conductor of the trip. Initially, this started out as a presentation I conducted on self-love, but I felt it could be shared as a blog post.
Self-love, by definition is regard for one’s own well-being and happiness. How many of us want to be happy? Well, throughout life, I’ve learned that happiness comes from within. Self-love is the vehicle that determines how we choose to see life, the way we choose a mate and ultimately how successful one can become.
So you might be asking yourself, how do I attain this self- love? Can I purchase it like a spa day or pamper session? Can someone else make me feel it by giving me compliments? Can I read inspirational quotes and self-help books and find it there? While all of those things can make us feel a sense of happiness, they don’t necessarily equal happiness.
Often times we seek validation in outside sources, people, and things, when the journey towards self-love begins where? Within….Within ourselves. That’s the great thing about it. No matter what the circumstances are, we are in control of our own happiness. Isn’t that great news?
My friend often says that no one can make you feel any way about yourself, only you can control that. I’m like how silly is that? If you’re constantly being told that you aren’t enough, then shouldn’t you just believe it? In some instances when you’re being told the same thing repeatedly, by different people, then maybe, just maybe you could take their views into account and practice a little self-improvement. Evolution is constant and improving yourself doesn’t mean that you believe that you aren’t enough, but rather you realize that you could be even better. However, DO NOT let anyone else dictate your sense of self worth. Self-esteem, self-worth, self-love all have one common theme… they begin with SELF!
Self-love can be hard to attain at times. It’s not being narcissistic or self-absorbed, but more so getting in touch with yourself. Sometimes the journey towards self-love takes a little back peddling to determine our view of ourselves and then determine if it’s realistic and healthy.
Recently, I had an epiphany. Loving yourself is a constant decision to do what’s right for you and your well-being. It is totally non reliant upon any outside factors. Sure others can give you a sense of love, belongingness, acceptance, compliments, etc.. but we have to make a conscience effort to dig within and to realize there will be moments alone when all you have is you. Those moments are where you draw your strength and realize just how much love you have for yourself and how powerful it is. Are there moments when you look to outside factors like loved ones, friends, inspirational quotes? Absolutely, but ultimately, it comes from within. You can receive all you want from others, but it’s what you pull from and return to yourself that matters.
For me, I’ve always had a loving and supportive set of friends and family. They have always encouraged me to follow my dreams. No, my childhood wasn’t perfect but it was pretty good. But there have been times in my life where I developed some self-loathing or deleterious habits that altered my path or railroaded my journey. The nerve, allowing others the power to determine how I felt about myself. I can remember bawling my eyes out to TLC’s unpretty, simply because I had been told that I wasn’t “pretty enough”. I allowed someone else’s views of me to temporarily dictate my sense of perception. Temporarily, I forgot that I dictate my self worth, but I regained my composure and pushed forward.
This blog, which was originally a session I presented is about going beyond the mirror, through the looking glass if you will to explore the “me” that isn’t always seen. The mirror can give us a distorted view of who we are, when in reality, it’s only an image, a PART of who we are. We’ll explore what we see when we look in the mirror, what we think others see and the same for qualities that go beyond what the eyes see.
While considering the angle for the topic of self-love, I couldn’t help but realize the parallel between Alice and Wonderland and my journey. Now, I must admit that Alice in Wonderland did not have a typical moral as many fairy tales or classic stories do, so self-love wasn’t its purpose, however, there were several elements of the story that could relate to characters and events. I’m sure that most of us know of some variation of Alice’s story, but allow me to refresh your memory.
Alice in Wonderland is a story of a girl who displayed a bit of curiosity and quirkiness. Her curiosity lead her down a rabbit hole where she went on a bizarre journey and met some interesting characters only to find that it’s ok to be a little “mad” sometimes. Alice learned many valuable lessons from so many characters while she was in Wonderland.
Some parallels I noted between the Alice stories (Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass were):
- Alice = Each curious person in pursuit of happiness
- Alice’s Sister = The way life tells us we should be, practical and no nonsense
- The white rabbit being chased down the hole = The curiosity we have, but we are so preoccupied with or anxious about life and time that it passes us by. Alice foolishly went down the hole, but as we grow and mature, we find out ways to explore or go down the rabbit hole in a less reckless fashion.
- Changing in Size= How many instances in life make us feel too big or too small. Sometimes it’s very necessary to be mature about situations (growth) other times it’s ok to be a little whimsical (shrinking). This is ok, because it’s all a part of the journey. However, with time, we should mature enough to know when.
- How many times along our journey towards self-love have we either been too large (puffed up/proud/arrogant or felt to small and drowned in our own tears like Alice encountered at the beginning of her story? Self-love can be a confusing task if you allow it to be or it can be as simple as looking beyond the mirror, at the person within and loving yourself wholeheartedly.
- Alice’s Pool of Tears- I can personally account for being confused and afraid and crying a “pool of tears” only to think things through and realize that that very pool of tears brought birth to new ideas. Truly symbolic of water, growth occurs in the midst of the pool. You can either sink or swim. Since you are her, I can gather that you have chosen to swim.
- Wonderland = our opportunity to create the life that we want, which can sometimes be whimsical and full of numerous characters.
- The caterpillar= reminds us that growth is ok and that eventually, we will morph into what we are destined to be, just as he will morph into a beautiful butterfly when the time is right. Change is hard, but it is constant.
- The Looking Glass = initially, it is a “true” reflection of ourselves, but that reflection is often due to outside sources. We’ll use the looking glass theme today as a way to look at ourselves and see who we really are. Outside of what others/society deems. A looking-glass is a mirror – you know, because a mirror is a piece of glass with a foil backing in which you can look at yourself. In a literal sense, of course, there’s nothing “through the looking-glass,” because it has no other side; but in another way, the other side of the looking-glass is a reflected world, a place that’s the backwards or opposite version of the “real” world.
So today, we’ll consider our experiences and how they affect what we see as we stare into the looking glass. Our reflections….Like Alice, sometimes that takes an adventure to get to that place. And since life is a journey, not a destination, I invite you to embark upon or advance your journey towards the most important love of all… Self-Love
Adventures in PHAcTiveland
My story of self-love definitely didn’t begin in 2014 when Be PHAcTive started, but in retrospect, I feel as if Be PHAcTive was a public display of the “new found” love that I had for myself. In 2014, after losing two close friends and being told basically that I wasn’t “enough” by someone I truly admired, I decided that I would be more than enough and I would live my life in a way that “proved” it.
I was allowing life to pass me by because it wasn’t panning out the way I thought it should. I was single, childless, moderately healthy, but definitely in need of improvements and looking for a sense of change and adventure. However, as I thought of my friends who no longer had the opportunity to even consider what was “enough” or not and who were I felt an overwhelming need to enhance my quality of life and to prove to myself that I was in fact “enough”. And to top it all off, I exist in a world that constantly reminds me that my dark skin, nappy hair and full frame aren’t necessarily “socially acceptable”. But still, in my mind I was and am “more than enough”.
So to me, that’s what self-love is, being unapologetically accepting of who you are, holistically but always willing to make improvements, because you view yourself as worth it. Changes are inevitable. Life brings about changes, but changing to make yourself better is perfectly ok as long as you realize your worth where you are.
As I further explore the topic of self love and realize all that it encompasses, I realize that my notion of being mentally, physically and spiritually well is the core prescription for self-love. I took an evaluation of my life, exactly where I was and decided to improve myself from there because I felt as if I was worth it. I’ve always known who I was, it’s just taken life and time to make me appreciate it.
In 2014, under the slogan Be PHAcTive, I began to further my journey I took a close look at myself, mentally, physically, and spiritually and realized that although I was in a good place, I had room for greatness. Like Alice, I went on a journey and it has been quite rewarding. My journey has been perpetuating the growth of the me that I am destined to be as so eloquently depicted below.
“ME”…u don’t see
My journey has not been one without bumps and bruises
my past was no fairy-tale filled with glee
my scars are of a different kind
mostly hidden to the world
by the smile on my face.
My mirror image doesn’t always match my inner being,
nor the image of those placed on display.
My present has taken me time to accept and embrace
but with each step, every day
I’m learning to love me,
to adore me,
to educate me,
to lift me up,
to embrace all of me wholeheartedly
piece by piece.
My future is a work in progress
so I can be
THE ME I WAS DESTINED TO BE !
I recently saw Alice Through The Looking Glass, so I’ll be sure to blog on the notion of time, the past and choices, which were the overall themes of that story. Stay tuned. Also, check to the Be Placative Facebook page for the Self-Love Challenge.