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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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Staff stories: What it means to “self love”

Tanya Sengupta, a senior technological systems management major at Stony Brook University, hugs herself in a photoshoot for The Statesman’s 2021 Sex and Relationships issue. RABIA GURSOY/STATESMAN

Steven Keehner, assistant opinions editor, is a junior journalism major with a minor in history.

For a long time, I thought that self-love was something you “uncovered” and that it would always be there. I’m finding that — like so many other aspects of adulthood — it’s not as simple as that.

I want to believe that I can easily use words to convey an emotion or a thought, but I’m realizing that love is something I’ll never truly grasp. I’ve realized though, that if I can’t love myself, then I’m doing a disservice to other relationships in my life.

I believed that the people around me were going to compensate for my flaws and that I would instinctively love myself because of their compassion. I was wrong.

Eventually, I realized this: our family, friends and partners should add to us, not just tick off our unchecked boxes. They may sound similar, but they are completely different in practice.

I like to think of the people in my life in a similar vein to using different colors while painting.

While it’s easy to want every color at your fingertips, there’s something to be appreciated in working with what you have and seeing the value within it. Only after you’ve realized this, should you expand your palette.

When you apply this in your day-to-day life, you’re not just learning to love and value yourself, but you’re also encouraging other loved ones around you to do the same — making everyones’ paintings ever more beautiful.

Cindy Mizaku, opinions editor, is a senior journalism and English dual major with a minor in gender studies.

My path to self-love, a concept that I stubbornly rejected for far too long, has been jarring, yet undeniably gratifying. My journey started, as cliche as it may sound, in the same manner as Joan Didion’s essay: “On Keeping a Notebook.”

I first learned the values behind the written word when I took a creative writing course during my last year of high school. My teacher, — whose passion for writing was so strong that he couldn’t sit still when discussing pieces like Marcel Proust’s “Swann’s Way” and W.G. Sebald’s “The Rings of Saturn” — asked the class to keep a notebook with us at all times. 

“You will never know what you remember unless you write it down,” I can hear him saying. 

So I carried a beaten-up notebook with torn-out pages of doodles almost everywhere I went. I jotted down what seemed like meaningless memories, quoted both the powerful and mediocre words of those around me, and listed my streams of consciousness in bullet-point form. Eventually warming up to the idea that I could write longer stories, I tied my notes and reflections of day-to-day life into essay form. 

To say that I was taken aback by all that I’ve absorbed when tracing the progress of my notebook entries is an understatement. There is nothing more fulfilling than flipping through pages of documented moments in my life that would have otherwise been forgotten. 

Writing solely for yourself is no small task. You are faced with insecurities about the quality of your work and it can also be discomforting to uncover certain truths about yourself. You may not even see the point of it all.

Though, after moving past those feelings of unease and doubt, you get to the real and, at times, frustrating work of sitting down alone with your thoughts. 

Once there, allow yourself to be one with the freedom of your mind, the pen you hold and the paper you write on. Your words are no one’s but your own, and there’s a certain beauty to that.

While unpacking and exploring the self in-between the lines of my notebook, I have found that my writing knows more about me than I claim to know.

There is more work to be done on this journey we call “self-discovery,” but I can say that I come closer to it while practicing self-love through the intimate moments I share with my notebook. 

Sam Lauria, assistant opinions editor, is a sophomore journalism/political science major with a minor in philosophy.

Self-love is a concept that many people, myself included, have a hard time understanding. I have often found it difficult to love myself for who I am. In fact, I resented myself for most of my life. My flaws and bad habits were constantly at the forefront of my mind, taking over every aspect of understanding who I was. Any good thing that happened to me or any praise I received seemed superficial and temporary. I truly believed that I was undeserving of love. 

That mindset almost destroyed me. That toxic mentality ate away at me until it drove me crazy. It took me a while to conclude that I am a much better person than I made myself out to be. I made necessary changes to my life that made me much more content with who I was. Removing myself from negative environments that kept me from seeing the wonderful qualities of myself and cutting off relations with individuals who made me feel worthless helped me become a stronger person. It was a long journey, but I eventually realized that I’m doing pretty well for myself. 

My advice to you all is to realize your own potential. If someone or something is eating away at you, remove yourself from that situation as soon as you can. Surround yourself with positivity. Appreciate the small things in life like the weather on a nice day or going on a walk. Your journey to self-love starts with you and you alone. 

I’ll admit, I’m still on the journey to self-love. There will be bad days, but there will also be good days. Try your best to get through the bad days by appreciating every second of the good ones. Self-love can be tricky, but I’m sure that anyone can be capable of achieving it with a few adjustments in everyday life. 

Fanni Frankl, assistant opinions editor, is a junior journalism and political science dual major.

You often hear phrases such as “you can’t love someone else unless you love yourself” or “be yourself” thrown around as if it’s a switch that can be turned on in the brain.

Truthfully, the path to self-love is a long-winding journey that could take months, even years to achieve, with no credit that could be given to the measly cliches that society often worships.

My journey to self-love came with the realization that happiness truly stems from myself. People, places and even job positions may be temporary and, as depressing as it sounds, nothing is constant. This is why relying on your self-love and happiness becomes as crucial as ever; since it forces you to realize that other people and things should not be the ultimate reason for your happiness. It was difficult for me to come to terms with it as somebody who only believed other people’s compliments, but somehow still felt like I was not good enough.

I learned that becoming at one with who you are is truly the first step in achieving this inner peace, especially as happiness and love for yourself are often hard to find when negative thoughts plague the brain. It is exponentially easier to nitpick at how you can be better, how you are not good enough and wishing you were somebody else. Challenge yourself to think the opposite. Whenever these negative thoughts inundate your brain, say something positive even if you may not believe it yet. Repeat these every day and you will find that these affirmations, as cheesy as they sound, may change your entire outlook on yourself.

I started this affirmation journey a few months ago, and I can honestly say that my self-love has greatly increased as these positive aspects of myself have become more apparent. The more you say something, the more likely you are to believe it, so choose a loving route and compliment yourself every day. You’ll thank yourself later. I know I did.

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