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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCSD chapter.

Imagine yourself on a roadtrip with no particular end destination. You have some idea of what routes you will be taking and certain areas where you want to stop, relax and enjoy the view. Of course in your plan, there are some of the most beautiful pit stops, where the ocean divinely meets the horizon, the mountains stand proudly surrounded by luscious wild flowers, and the tall, green Douglas Fir’s cast over the crystal clear river. You may even find yourself in the middle of a city where life is buzzing all around you. Every corner you turn there’s something new for you to explore.

It seems like an absolute dream of a road trip! But, I forgot to mention that before you get to any of these destinations, you drive through a huge desert in the middle of nowhere. Oh and your car’s AC suddenly stopped working so you’re forced to roll the windows down and feel the intense summer heat. You finally make it out of the desert, but all of a sudden your car breaks down right before entering a nearby town. You find that the nearest mechanic shop is a couple miles north, so you set off on foot to get some help. An hour later, you get there right before closing or so you thought… The shop is actually closed for the week but there’s a dingy motel right across the street. You get yourself a room for the night but notice that the bed is rock hard and the sheets have faint stains of God knows what splattered across. Too tired to care, you lay down and can’t help but think if this trip was even worth it. It wasn’t any of what you had expected and now may not ever be what you had planned for. 

Although dramatic and entirely fictional, this “roadtrip” alludes to the reality of the journey to self love. Oftentimes we fantasize about how perfect and amazing love is and once we find it, then we’ll be happy. However, if I were to say that love wasn’t beautiful, I’d be lying to myself and everyone around me. Of course, love is beautiful, it’s something that I would want everyone to experience during the entirety of their human existence, but a big part of love also means experiencing the ugliness that comes with the beauty. When all of this is reflected onto oneself, it can be the most challenging experience that life throws at you. 

Self love is the foundation of any and every kind of love which makes it one of the most challenging and intense forms to experience. For instance, my self love journey has had those jaw dropping, eye opening, and absolutely brilliant encounters, much like those pit stops mentioned in the beginning. However, it’s also had its fair share of heartbreaking, ugly-crying, and incredibly hopeless moments just like the hot desert, stranded car, and janky motel. In times like these, there are moments where I severely doubt my strength and resilience. I find it hard not to dwell on the inconsistencies of my commitment to self love ultimately, leading me to magnify on the numerous failed attempts to improve and the shadows that linger within me. Looking back at the joyous moments I’ve had when self love felt easy, I feel envious because it seems harder to reach that point again. 

This experience goes on for cycles until finally, I am sitting here, writing this article with the realization that as I continue to grow, so does my capability of love. I have realized that all the moments where I’ve beat myself up for not being able to love myself in the way I loved myself before was exactly what was making me feel miserable. I was the one that was hindering myself from growing and strengthening my love to a more consistent and secure place. I was victimizing myself while at the same time was the perpetrator all along. Caught up in the loop of all of this chaos, I thought that I was serving myself but in reality I was stuck in that desert heat with no AC. Although the ugly bits of self love can be extremely difficult, they are also completely necessary for that love to grow. Love requires challenges to test one’s commitment and getting through them while continuing to move forward is the ultimate form of self love. Clearly, love is not perfect but it is beautiful, and this is why I will forever continue to move with love because what else is there to do?

Hello! I'm Julie, a 3rd year Psychology major and Cognitive Science minor at University of California, San Diego. I enjoy reading, going out in nature, analyzing art, and being around my loved ones. I am a huge mental health advocate and hope that my time on this earth is spent serving others in my community.