Be the girl you loved. This is the first love letter.

Why is it so hard to love yourself? No, really, why is it? I've been wondering about this for a couple of months now, and I can't seem to satisfy myself with an answer. My answer always seems to segway into another question--another deeper, more open-ended kind of question. The whole idea of loving yourself has almost been bothersome to me really. But the only way to give my mind some rest is to explore the idea of self love and attempt to answer the question by picking it apart.

photo does not belong to me, all rights to the owner
Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City

Somewhat recently, someone told me, after I returned from my eye-opening trip to London, that she missed "the sweet and bubbly 16 years old girl who couldn't wait to get hired at Old Navy." Now this person has me wondering which Arianna she was introduced to. Because unlike most people, I'll admit that I have a few personas, a few masks if you may, that I put on for different settings and occasions. It's all a part of this wall that I've built to keep me from getting hurt (that's another post for another day).

Gif not mine, all rights to the owner
Persona, a film directed by Ingmar Bergman

Yes, I am vulnerable, and yes, I am observant, which I believe, makes me naturally intuitive when it comes to understanding people and their intentions. And because I can be extremely sensitive, I analyze my surroundings from the people to the place and decide whether or not they get to meet the incredibly open and sincere me or just the Instagram Primadonna I've created myself to be. This person has really got me wondering who it was that I introduced her to, and if I somehow, for some reason, retired that mask and just forgot about it.

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Electra Heart, Marina Diamandis alternate ego

The sweet age of 16 was actually a pretty gray time. It wasn't as black or white of a time as I remember past years. I was recovering from and battling a lot of mental illnesses, and I still am, but I was becoming more optimistic about the future, especially after God allowed me to go to NYFW. That's when I started seeing His vision for me. It was impossible for me to just focus on the bad when I felt so much purpose over my life. I was excited for the things He was doing and going to do in my life--I still am. But I also know that I was trying to cover up my past by creating a "new me."

IG: @trulyaria
photo of my lovely mom and me at my first NYFW

I was always into clothes and makeup, but I really started getting into it at 16. I tried to introduce a new Arianna to the world. So under all of the wrong foundation shades and awful contouring skills, under all of the disastrous wigs that I couldn't lay and slay, and under all of the slightly more than basic outfits that I wore, I knew that there was a girl who still felt…less than.

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Luke Brandon, Confessions of a Shopaholic (the movie that raised me omg)

I mean even now I have a hard time really liking, let alone loving, who I am. I feel like I am always stopping and asking myself if I'm loving who I know God has called and made me to be or if I'm loving the image that I know to appear beautiful because I have created and pretty much perfected it.

There are so many conclusions that I have come to about why it's so hard to love yourself, and this being one of them: It's easier to love the image you create for yourself than it is to love the image in which you have already been created in by God. Want something a little simpler? It's easier to the love person you want to be than it is to accept and love the person you already are.

Think about it. It's easier to create a fantasy world where everything falls into place how you want it to than it is to face your everyday reality. I do it all of the time. I am a proud  visionary and daydreamer; it's what pushes me. But it's a dangerous state of mind to be in because then you can't separate the two like you thought you could or like you once were able to do. Then everything becomes either a disappointment, set back, or an embarrassment.

If we were to be content in who we are right now and love on that person in this moment, to grow to become all that God has called us to be, then maybe we can learn to nourish our minds and bodies beyond the lavish skincare routines we do at night and beyond the over priced matcha green teas that we drink in hopes of feeling better about ourselves. When really, this mindset of self care equals self love is just giving us a false sense of what it really means to love ourselves.

image not mine, all rights to the owner

Self love goes beyond all of that, and I am starting to believe that the first step to loving yourself--loving who you are--is to stop being in love with yourself (and that means your image).

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