Photo by Haley Jacobson featuring Kayla Stag
Loving myself looks a lot like a three-year-old jamming together puzzle pieces that don’t belong.
My body rejects the kindness I feed it. It’s an acquired taste.
I sit in front of the mirror while time stretches in the background, and try to paint a self-portrait of who I am and what I hold, but the girl on the other side of the reflection and I can’t agree on what we see. I set my paint brush down and we compromise on remaining neutral. Our debate has spanned over 18 years, there is no deadline.
I knit together self-love with ribbons of beauty I discover in myself. My laugh, my affinity for children, my ability to love recklessly. I wear them like a scarf around myself and let them drape over my shoulders, I enjoy walking by windows and watching them sparkle in the reflection.
I collect memories like postage stamps, saving them for rainy days and using them to send myself away. I want to remember sinking my toes into the grass and the hum of street lamps. I bottle up the butterflies that hibernate in my stomach.
I like the way you laugh when a clumsy joke slips from my mouth.
I look forward to falling in love. I have learned the difference between convincing yourself of love and letting love convince you. It’s very persuasive. But it doesn’t show up on time.
The most important thing I learned in high school wasn’t in math, or at football games, or during group projects. It was sitting on the pale tile of the bathroom floor in the corner of the school. My soul felt like it was falling out of my body. Friends picked up the pieces and tucked them back into my empty spaces, and I was taught how to let myself be taken care of.
My cap and gown hang loosely off my wardrobe, and they should hold more value to me but once I slip them on, I can’t blow bubbles into my milk or use my naivety as an excuse anymore, I think. It’s hard to leave what is safe.
Loving myself looks a lot like a three-year-old jamming together puzzle pieces that don’t belong, but it’s art in its own way.