– Your happiness comes from within you and is the result of your love for yourself,” chuckles a jutube type. It’s hard not to believe him. He poignantly folds his hands over his heart and speaks with as much conviction as if he were explaining that sausages cannot be cooked for more than 5 minutes. The guy explains that my over-reliance on the other person risks completely losing my identity, so he recommends being an independent island, and then says goodbye to me with a frail flick of the wrist.
I am left alone.
Normally, I wouldn’t go into the territory of carefree hippies and their idealistic version of the world, which I myself like to draw on, except to make fun of someone. Especially if, in spite of advice that says I can’t give love if I don’t have it, my body says it’s time to loosen my sphincters and start relying on others.
So I ask: how to live?
I look for answers in the abyss of the Internet. There, it is teeming with articles on self-love, with a solid argument at the top of the 10 reasons why it should be practiced: BO YES. I read point after point, each presenting me with a different way to love myself, firmly establishing the framework of my independence. However, I find nothing there to teach me more self-acceptance. So I’m snooping around further.
I’m looking for something about being aware of shortcomings, taking responsibility without blaming myself, recognizing my worth even when I fuck something up. However, as time goes by, I’m beginning to get the impression that self-love as practiced today is a monster fed by the need to strive for success, which at best ends with the purchase of yet another anti-wrinkle cream, at worst, demonstrative self-sufficiency. I get wrapped up in ads for more courses, therapies and workshops that are supposed to help me unlock the most authentic version of myself. Finally, I myself am beginning to believe in my individual agency, as if living in a vacuum and cut off from social structures for anyone is an option. At some point I am unexpectedly awakened by the need to experience a turbulent relationship, one in which my partner resembles at least one of Grey Christian’s fifty faces, until I suddenly fall to the couch in a faint, where I fly headlong into a nearby table and lose consciousness.
I wake up with a headache and the question of why we avoid intimacy, as if it is written in the constitution that attachment drives its sharp fangs into the marrow of our personality, to spit out all of our characterological essence onto the concrete sidewalk afterwards with an expression of absolute condemnation. We are so attached to our autonomous idyll that those who feel the need for attachment and closeness(aka fuck everyone) in the suitcase of life’s baggage grumble with guilt. Today’s ideal of a successfulman (self-made man) develops new skills on his own(self-taught), actively engaging in his own development(self-development). In this, he is soself-absorbed (self-absorbed) that while taking yet another photo of his hands (selfie) during his weekly visit to the gym(self-care), he fails to notice that hisself-love (self-love) Is basically very selfish(selfish).
I lie like this for a long moment on the couch and wonder when self-love became a capitalism-driven marketing slogan. Perhaps it was a dozen years ago when experts warned not to cuddle children because it led to social maladjustment. Or when advertising campaigns began to rely on promoting personal power, luring people who lacked self-esteem with their products. Or maybe it happened when the pathological cult of the individual caused us to glorify the ability to tolerate loneliness, even though from an evolutionary perspective it is the reliance on the other person that is the basis for the survival of our species.
Our weakness for privatization manifests itself in relationships, every time we put dependency in opposition to love. We forget that, like water and food, the need for proximity to another human being is non-negotiable and necessary for us to live.
That’s why I’m fucking all this advice and going to hug Jack. A person who, by giving me a sense of stability and security, has made me more independent than ever before.