There are different kinds of love. There’s the pure love between those of common blood, the complete and engulfing love you find only in the person with the other side of your heart, and then there’s love that transcends to divinity, acting as a cord between flesh and Spirit. All these kinds of love are well known by the majority. They’ve been taken and given, moulded and shattered, maintained and lost. But there’s a love we fail to recognize, talk more of understanding. It’s the love for self.
On a Friday, in the middle of a group conversation, a boy looked at me and asked me to stop acting the way I was acting. The word “act” got to me. It sounded — just like the fellow it came from — ignorant, void of even slight empathy. It was difficult trying to understand the place where the word came from. Of course by “acting”, the boy meant my effeminate behavior, my hand gestures, and GRACEFUL rolling of eyes while talking. But these traits of mine are innate, and this fellow speaking of “acting”, as though I was on a stage trying to play a gender I wasn’t, made me pity him. Deep down I knew his helplessness and felt an urge to aid him into understanding. Since I was used to various blind corrections from society, I glanced at him and carried on.
Now, my ability to ignore his sentence and let it float to the air wasn’t something I had known how to do all along. I grew up learning this, learning to love myself. I embraced my difference and recognized its normalcy. But this embracing — finding beauty with the hand gestures that accompanied my spoken sentences, my eye-rolling, my love for Taylor Swift and Cardi B, my hopeless love for feminine grace, my natural interest and skill at cooking — never came easy. It took will and various splintering and glueing. It cost me years of confusion to purchase my acceptance of self, to learn love for my unconventionality.
Well, this type of love is like a simple equation involving mind calculations. It requires various learning and unlearning, addition and subtraction, crossing-over and weighing and balancing. It has a single answer, and it spells out as “self-love”. The equation is simple.
Equation-Life: Subject (controller) + Object (controlled) = Fulfillment/Dejection
Just like Christianity preaches, we’re all born with an Adamic (sinful) nature, born to be the object in the equation above, and by instinct, we let the public be the subject. Those public eyes and engulfing disapproval push us to the background of our lives. They control us like tiny things. They’re the subject, and we’re the object and when we sum all these factors, it equals a life of Dejection. It births a life of unfulfillment, one always in constant search for so much care to account for our missing self-love. We become like a leaking pocket of affection: no matter the love being invested, we end up blank, filled with a blackness we strive to light.
While growing up, I loathed myself. I couldn’t bear my difference, how I had all the traits and interests associated with femininity. Voices said I looked like a girl, sounded like a girl, behaved like a girl, and asked why I didn’t come as a girl? The voices defined my life. It made me drift into a place where a quiet without peace was my solace. I was forced into introvercy, whereas I was born with a personality as lively as a party. God bless fiction for fiction taught me how to manipulate that equation. It showed me how to substitute society in my position and leap to the subject’s position.
I read about people who so much resembled reality that they spoke to me as truth. I met feminism. Frowned at the restraint gender cast humans with. And most importantly, I discovered a love of different types: the kind where love was a flame to be doused because it challenged society; the questionable love that made a mother give her child premature rest in order to save her from perpetual slavery; the possessive love that requires marking of who owns and who is owned; the just love that gives everyone agency because of the universal truth that love is a two-way thing although it involves sharing a single heart.
Let me give you a quick guide on how to manipulate that equation. Think of yourself as the sun — hot, powerful, high, and central. See society as the nine planets, and let them revolve around you. You hold them with your pull. You are the attention. Be the protagonist in your novel. Be selfish when it comes to loving your unconventionality. Become the subject of your own life, and let your power mutate to love, the kind of love that tells God to make sure he forms you with the same material if you were to be born again. Be the sunshine in your dreams.