I think it was about two years ago that I really realized that I wanted to learn to love myself fully. I had noticed this term being said many times, but I wasn’t really sure how to go about it, and I definitely heard my inner dialogue being very self-critical most of the time. This is the second part of a series where I share and unravel what helped me along on my journey towards self-love.
Ingredients: an invitation - playing ukulele - letting go of perfectionism
If you ask my mom, I've always been a creative and curious person. Somehow in adulthood I guess I started to take things a bit too serious, but then moving to a new country resets everything. No one knows which talents you have - or don’t have, what your history is, or about your past experiences. Of course you don’t become someone completely different just by moving, but the situation brought me a great sense of freedom and opened my world up to experiment with different types of creative expression.
Not long after I had recovered from my motorbike accident a friend of mine brought me to an open singing session with Claire, a lovely choir leader and singer. On this day I was feeling emotionally low and entered the session kind of in tears. After the session she asked me if I would like to be part of her choir, and even though I used to love singing as a teenager it came to me as a surprise that she thought I was good enough to join. The beauty of Claire is that she believes everyone can sing, and with her instruction she actually brings forth the best in people. What might have seemed quite ordinary to her was a pivotal moment for me: being encouraged in a loving way to express myself. I started attending her weekly choir sessions, and for me that was the beginning of expressing myself in a context with other people, which helped building a deeper sense of confidence.
During those last years I’ve also been taking photos, drawing, dancing, taken drumming lessons and more. It has been important for me to play with expression and develop in my own pace without putting any pressure on performing or perfection. I’ve felt how all these activities have opened me up: I’ve become more comfortable in my own skin.
Last year I began to play the ukulele, as a grown up I’ve been quite private about the things I do, but with the ukulele I’ve pushed myself to sing and play in front of other people. At first shyly sending off a video to my two-year old niece. Then playing in front of my best friend, then my mother. Then in front of new friends, then random new people, then a guy I wanted to impress, then leading a sing-a-long in a meditation community in Southern Spain and lately playing with another musician. Every time I’ve felt nervous, but I’ve done it anyway. I’ve become more comfortable putting myself out there even though I don't play perfectly or am the best at something, and slowly I’ve built up a trust in myself that I didn’t have in the same way before.
I believe creative expression – in which ever form inspires you – is an amazing tool to build up a sense of worth from the inside. And with a stronger sense of worth I found it easier to tap into a sense of self-love.
How do you like to express yourself, and how can you cultivate this even more in your life?