As we approach Valentines Day, it’s easy to have tunnel vision; only seeing the day as one that celebrates couples. Whether you’re in a committed relationship or not, I would like to challenge the notion of V-Day and remind brothers that self-love is a priority before you can truly love someone else. Listed below are a few reminders, tips and strategies to leverage and make sure you’re showing up as the best you possible, be it for your significant other, sister, friend, and most importantly, for you.
Be ok with not being ok
Life as a black man will have you feeling like you need to be Superman, saving yourself and the world all at the same time. As black men, we need to be ok with laying our cape to the side and embrace our inner Clark Kent; especially when we’re weak and hurting. Society has shackled us with the stigma that when the going gets rough to keep pushing. Most men embrace this mentality and suffer from emotional baggage so much so that they lose a sense of self. I’ll be the first to dispel the stigma that a man does not need to be strong all the time. It’s damn near impossible. It’s ok to be vulnerable and even cry. One of my best friends use to say; “hurt people, hurt people.” You’re no kind to those you care about if your down and wounded. It's ok with taking a personal inventory and being honest with yourself, especially when the burden of life seem overwhelming.
Ask for help
I don’t know if its pride or apart of the “Self Made” culture that we live in today , but most of us don’t like asking for help. It takes a strong man to assess his strengths and do a gap analysis to see where he needs help. Correlating this with a basketball analogy, Lebron James spent seven seasons in Cleveland before realizing that he needed to leave home to get help and win a Championship. Even now, as he puts the ribbon on his basketball career in LA, he has the NBA in a frenzy courting the likes of Anthony Davis Jr for his last run with the Lakers. In sum, my point here is, know matter how “great” you are, there will come a time when you need to advocate for your self and get help. As Kendrick Lamar put it “ Sit Down, Be Humble” and get some help.
The path to genuinely loving yourself is like the diagram for success. It’s not linear, and at times you might feel like you're going backward rather than moving forward. The important thing here is not to get frustrated but stay focused on the end result. The sad truth about growing up black is that a lot of black men grow up without a father figure. I can speak from my personal life experience as a black man, not having a father in my life, there have been many instances where I felt lost and unsure when it came to making some of the life's most important decisions. Whether you’re fortunate to have a circle or blessed enough to have one, every black man must have a safe space with another brother who understands his pain, will challenge him when he’s out of pocket and champion him towards success.
The Best First Date
The last point that I want to make regarding self-love is becoming familiar with yourself. It’s easy to fall into the trap, jumping from relationship to relationship always in pursuit of romance. From Instagram couples and family pressures, there are more than enough outside influences that can push us into relationships prematurely. Bump that! Singleness is a gift, and the best way to show up and be the man that she deserves is by dating yourself first. Spend time getting to know multiple women on a platonic level, seeing them as sisters and loving them in that manner. This will give you the opportunity to find out what about her makes you tick beyond the big but and smile. Also, spend time identifying what your life purpose may be so you can truly determine your compliment when the time comes. One of the biggest regrets that I have in my dating life is not following this advice early on. I was the type to jump in head first, before realizing that the woman I was dating wasn’t the right fit. Repeating the cycle over and over. I encourage you to save yourself and women of the heartache. Take things slow, be intentional and above all, fall in love with yourself first.