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The New Year – Part 2

Amidst the celebrations of every New Year is a slew of “New year, new me!” posts and resolutions. We’ve all made them; aspirations ranging from losing weight to finding love to getting a raise, and just about everything in between. While it can feel refreshing to start these goals with the promise of a whole new year to work on them, it can also be terribly toxic, especially when things start getting derailed and not going as planned. The feelings of failure that emerge when you realize you’ve started to stray just cause shame, guilt, and ultimately self-hate. It’s consuming.

I make resolutions every year, but in lieu of hating the idea of new years resolutions, I call mine “intentions.” The word “intentions” carries less weight and more promise for me than resolutions. I find them easier to stick with and ultimately more sustainable; really though, it’s all pretty much the same. While a lot of my intentions don’t quite stick through an entire year, occasionally they do pay off. It was a new years intention that brought me to Flirt Fitness and pole dancing, after all. Setting my intentions this year, though, I didn’t set my usual goals to recreate myself or reinvent myself; I focused on finding ways to love and respect who I already am.

There seems to be some stigma, that (1) the New Year is the only time to set serious goals and (2) your goals need to be dramatic and huge changes to your life. Sometimes, I suppose, dramatic changes are necessary; however, the pressure to reinvent your life and yourself every year is unsustainable, and downright toxic. With the prevalence of social media movements to love yourself and accept yourself, I don’t understand how this expectation still stands – irony, I suppose. However, I think it’s important to look inward and really see what you’re made of, before making any goals to un-do or re-do the amazing person you already are.

One of my new years intentions this year is to read more books, the first being a lovely piece by Sonya Renee Taylor called “The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self Love.” Taylor is a world-renowned activist and poet, and she was extremely deliberate in choosing the words “radical self-love” as opposed to any other combination of words. She says this:

“Radical self-love is deeper, wider, and more expansive than anything we would call self-confidence or self-esteem. It is juicier than self-acceptance. Including the word radical offers us a self-love that is the root or origin of our relationship to ourselves. We did not start our life in a negative partnership with our bodies. I have never seen a toddler lament the size of their thighs, the squishiness of their bellies…we arrived on this planet as LOVE” (6-7).

What is Sonya really telling us? That at one point in our lives, maybe as far back as being an infant or a toddler, we were in love with ourselves. We loved our bellies, laughed at our toes, admired our hands…before our bodies had even learned how to serve us by walking, talking, running, dancing, or doing anything else you currently know how to do. You loved your body for existing and for being full of mysteries and discoveries. We were unabashedly in love with ourselves, and unashamed to express it with wide eyes of wonder and smiles and giggles. We truly were little bundles of love when we were born. Our roots, our origins, are love.

What happened, then, between then and now? What happened that led to us sitting down a little tipsy after midnight, too early in the morning on January 1, writing down “resolutions” to make ourselves “better”? Who changed that dialogue you had with yourself, that dialogue of radical self-love? It wasn’t you – you didn’t just decide to start disliking parts of yourself at some point, without any influence from outside sources. Someone, probably multiple people, made you feel that way throughout the course of your life. They kept pointing out what was “wrong” and left you very little space to love all that you rightfully are. Rude.

Looking at your list of new years resolutions/intentions/goals/aspirations: how many of the things on your list are geared toward changing you (either physically or fundamentally)? How many of us are trying to exercise more in 2019? How many of us are trying to eat “healthier”? How many of us set goals to reach a certain weight, fit a certain size, or hide a certain trait? Are we doing these things because we love our bodies and we want to give back to them? Or are we doing them because we’re trying to un-do the wrongness of taking up the space we need to exist?

Deciding every New Year that we need to reinvent our bodies is hurtful. It reinforces the idea that there is something wrong with us to begin with: that we are too much or to too little of something. In truth: there is no such thing. We cannot be too much or too little, we can just be. Our existence is not something to apologize for with dieting, working out, surgery, discomfort, self-consciousness, or a lack of self-advocacy. We would not turn to someone who calls us fat and say, “I’m sorry.” We would not look at a person who tells us we are undesirable and ask, “Will you forgive me for it?” So why so we partake in activities that say those things for us? Why do we make it an annual goal to apologize for ourselves for an entire year more?

Our existence is something to celebrate by returning to our roots, to those moments of radical self-love, and finding purchase in being astounded with who we are.

This New Year, I wish that we that we can simultaneously love our bodies and intentionally treat them well, without it being an apology for any way that we are.

I hope that we find comfort in the space that we occupy and fill every inch that we can with our awesomeness, without saying sorry for it.

I intend for us all to rediscover radical-self love, breaking free of the toxicity that encourages us to create hurtful cycles of hating our bodies and calling that #motivation.

I ask that we start to shed feelings of shame, guilt, hate, and self-loathing because someone told us we should feel that way.

I implore that we recognize we can start this journey at any time that we are ready, and not just with the dawn of a new year.

Love your too much-ness, your too little-ness, your too you-ness; bask in it, radically and unapologetically.

With radical self-love,