Putting Love First 

Every February is an opportunity, for me, to reflect on love. And not just the eros kind of love, but multiple aspects – like thirteen different levels of love (LOL). For me, this year meant reflecting on the most personal kind of love–self love. I’ve realized that when you love yourself, that energy radiates out and projects into every aspect of your life: family, friends, and work.  And truthfully…because of the way I work, the type of work and the demands of work…even the time that I started working…self-love was not a regular area of focus.

It wasn’t long ago that self-love was a taboo concept. Taking care of yourself, especially as a Black woman, was looked down upon especially in a corporate environment (like where I started), self-love is looked down upon even more. I had a strong desire to prove myself in a corporate environment. But what I know now is that for me and many others that corporate place may/may not recognize you or your talents, no matter how hard you work. I personally received judgment for taking care self, which made me quickly start to push self-care to the backburner. I’ve definitely experienced that in the workplace. In fact, I specifically recall a time when a hair appointment set me back in ‘social/corporate capital’ when my hair ‘appointment took so long.’

This type of thinking wasn’t healthy, not for my mind, body, or soul and it’s only and I had to retrain myself and choose to love self despite what other people may think. It also helped as I gained more experience in the workplace that my work ethic outweighed misconceptions about the differences in what it took for an appointment for my hair vs. my managers. I went so far as to also ensure that appearance was for me not for what corporate standards required (after time). Wearing heels, getting my hair and nails done, adding color into my wardrobe were all ways I began to express love for self. Taking care of self in a world that constantly works against that ethos is a courageous thing to do. I know now that if you feel good about yourself and your image, your confidence will rise, and create movement for yourself in other parts of your life, whether it is in work or personal. 

Sometimes it takes a reset to realize what you need to do for yourself in this life. For me, starting a business was an initial point…and then more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic was also a key point. When you are stuck inside, you have to take a long look at yourself, your habits, and your life. The pandemic taught me to treat myself better as an act of self-love. This includes eating healthier, working out, and just trying to minimize stress in any way possible. Taking a step back can help you come back to the table as a better mom, wife, and team leader, and present your best self to the best people in your life. 

How you interact with other people is another great way to express self-love. How does that work? Putting work away, turning off your phone and not checking emails during family time are all a great way to say to yourself and the people you love through actions that time with them is what matters. I fought so hard to create my family, so treasuring time with them is when I can reflect on how much they mean to me, especially after all the hardship. All of the self-work I do also lends itself to the workplace. I love being a leader with an incredible team by my side. The enthusiasm everyone brings makes us excited to come to work every day. When you are presenting your best self to your team, their positivity radiates back towards you. 

Reflecting on love has reminded me to cherish my family, my friends, my co-workers, my community, my identity and myself. 

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