Evolution: My Journey From Self-Loathing To Self-Loving

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Never again will I use a razor blade to force apart my love for self.

For many years I didn’t love myself. I was shy, reserved and misunderstood. Despite being raised in a family of 9 siblings, I was a loner by nature. A person who never truly fit in. When you come from such a massive family and attend school with most of your siblings, often times you are compared to one another. You unconsciously fall victim of proving your authenticity. Proving you are original and “other”. I struggled to find acceptance amongst my peers, so I began to internalize my feelings and shame myself for being different. That is when the insidious cycle of self-loathing began.

The mind is incredibly powerful. It has the ability to learn, absorb, process, and reflect while guiding us to make simple and intricate decisions every day. My decision to journey into the fashion industry was the most life-altering decision I’ve ever made. I began modeling at a time where being “Instafamous” didn’t exist. I pounded the pavements in New York City with my portfolio and comp cards in hand, ready to take the fashion world by storm. Casting after casting, callback after callback….nothing. I’d get rejected and often turned away because the client had already booked “one black model”, so they didn’t see the need of adding any more. My disdain for acceptance was driving my sense of self-loathing to an uncontrollable level but, I grew determined. I was set on cultivating an image for what others expected of me to succeed. My relationship with food had always been a healthy one and growing up an athlete, exercise was second nature to me, but that wasn’t enough. That's when my obsession.

Of course, my story is hardly unique.

I started journaling every piece of food I ate, counted every calorie down to the quarter size dressing I’d put into my salads. I lost weight very rapidly and my subtle curves vanished along with my self-esteem. I found myself going the extra mile, working twice as hard to even get noticed as a potential hire for a job. Shortly after I started booking gigs, traveled a bit and felt like I had finally succeeded. That gave me a dopamine high...temporarily. I awoke one morning in my Los Angeles apartment with an overwhelming feeling of guilt, shame, and supreme unhappiness. A shiver of uneasiness. An energy of unexplainable emptiness had overcome me. I wasn’t proud of the person I had become. I falsely portrayed well being, joy and happiness to my family and peers when naturality, I was everything but. I felt inadequate and fraudulent. I felt like a burning candle on a path of self-destruction, melting in my own tears. It was time to break the cycle and free myself from the chains of ruin inside my mind. I was ready to re-create my self-image to one that breeds positivity and harness the energy of hope.

AT ANY GIVEN MOMENT YOU HAVE THE POWER TO SAY, THIS IS NOT HOW THE STORY IS GOING TO END” — CHRISTINE MASON MILLER

Vulnerability had been a long lost friend of mine for years, but my soul was yearning for reconciliation. Having dabbled in meditation inconsistently for a couple of years, I stumbled upon a” Sound Bath” meditation ritual being held at a local healing studio, which was merely 10 mins away from my apartment. Sound Baths have been shown to balance the nervous system which decreases stress, pain, and anxiety. Deep therapeutic drone instruments are played such as Himalayan singing bowls and quartz crystals. With nothing to lose but my ego, I stripped down internally and attended the 2-hour meditation that completely changed my life. The Sound Bath helped quiet the conscious voice telling me how worthless and incompetent I was and gave my mind a chance to calm down. My subconscious state allowed me to release the burdens of hatred towards self and bring forth a new found love of worthiness and healing. Since then, I’ve adopted a ritual of incorporating meditation into my daily lifestyle. Mindfulness has helped me form a level of self-awareness, improved focus and healthy habits. It’s helped me slow down and savor every moment.

As women, we are constantly being labeled. Pressured into fitting into society's unrealistic boxes that have been created to recognize conformity. Calorie counting and dieting has become the norm and often times encouraged by magazines and media to “stop eating” certain foods to trim fat or slim our waists. We give more importance to “fitting in” than to our own beliefs and intuition. With every box we jump into we then give away our power and at this very moment, we lose the ability to thrive and to recognize the magnitude of our magic. The source of our self-harm is the lack of foundation in our self-worth. It's not selfishness when you prioritize your love for you, the love you deserve to feel and relish in, in order to thrive. The more you listen to your body and use the tool of self-awareness, the easier it’ll be to transform your unhealthy habits into ones of self-love.

I encourage you to bare it all, to dig deep and to breathe easy. Be kind to your heart. It’s okay to mess up, as long as you don’t completely indulge in your slip.

Evolution of self is intrinsically connected to awareness, which births mindfulness and self-love.

Vow to penetrate loving warmth into your space, and, to create a safe place of self-love to come home to.

All my love,

Shani