On Unconditional Love

A random Google search of “Daily Journal Prompts” yields innumerable possibilities. Make a list of books you are planning to read. Write about your first pet. Both seem interesting. I scroll through the extensive list of options when something catches my eye. What does unconditional love mean to you?

When posed with this prompt, I wasn’t quite sure how to respond. You see, I haven’t been in any relationships nor experienced what it means to be in love, so I wouldn’t consider myself a love connoisseur. I put pen to paper, and started with, “Unconditional love means loving someone with…” I paused, unsure of how I should continue. And I began to wonder why my instinct was to write about unconditional love for others.

For me, unconditional love is the ability to see past stark differences between individuals, to accept these differences, and to continue loving that person for who they intrinsically are. We typically apply this to our relationships with other people––to family members, partners, etc. We are constantly told to forgive, to accept, to see past the flaws and appreciate the good. Yet I think unconditional love shouldn’t be limited to relationships with others.

In the world we live, we are quick to focus on our flaws and ignore our positive assets. Caught in this whirlwind of striving towards perfection––the perfect appearance, the perfect body, perfect grades, perfect musical ability, athletic ability, social media feed, you name it––we have lost the ability to truly appreciate and accept ourselves. The only people we cannot unconditionally love are ourselves.

This is something I, too, struggle with. But I am making an effort to improve, this time with a person and not a list of achievements in mind. For me, self-love simply means allowing myself some time to reflect and disconnect from the rest of this frenzied world. I’ve started by journaling and meditating, or even something as simple as taking care of my skin. At the same time, I’ve tried to harbor an attitude of forgiveness and gratitude in lieu of self-criticism.

Today, I challenge you to unconditionally love the most important person in your life––you. Forgive any perceived flaws, any smudges on perfection, and appreciate yourself for who you intrinsically are. Perfection is simply an illusion of reality. Every day, we await a brighter sun that will never rise, simply because it doesn’t exist. But our choice to disregard our perception of the unattainable perfect is crucial for our relearning to treat ourselves the way we treat others, with compassion and with empathy.

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