Tory Freeth: Loving Yourself

Post-grad.  I wish they offered a class titled “life after graduation.”

I would have been first in line.  They didn’t, apparently you’re supposed to learn as you go.  Being the good student that I am, you can imagine how the idea of being unprepared stresses me out. Don’t get me wrong, the first year out of school has come with lots of freedom.  On the other hand, this first year, has been, well, like freshman year all over again.  Except this time, there’s no Resident Advisor or New-Student Orientation to help you along.   

When I said goodbye to this overwhelming sense of guidance that college had to offer, I was frightened to accept the new normal: it’s just me now. This season, for me, has been about going it alone. I don’t mean to sound like a martyr; every recent graduate is experiencing similar trials.  However, here was my lesson #1 in adulthood: in real life, you don’t experience every part of your day with your friends; it’s impossible.  So this season has been about living a day-to-day life that is uniquely my own: from running practical errands to lofty day-dreaming, it’s been about standing on my own.  Like my training wheels were taken off.   

Let me rewind a bit.  This past summer, I found myself in a blank space.  I had no plan, and I wasn’t sure where to begin. 

At the time, I was terrified, but I now realize it was a blessing in disguise: an opportunity to re-prioritize a bit.  I started to spend lots of time alone: every day, I would drive to a designated alone space, equipped with my favorite things (Starbucks coffee, my journal, my Bible, and a couple of good books).  At first, it was really hard, but after time, I began to reap the reward and actually crave time alone.   

You see, when you spend time alone, you begin to hear your own voice over the noise of life,

and more importantly, you begin to hear God.  If you’re like me, perhaps you’ll notice that God would never speak to you the way you speak to yourself.  I confused humility with self-criticism: setting impossible standards and passing judgment when I failed.  Those characteristics don’t resemble the gentility and compassion of our Lord and Savior; rather, they resemble the pride and hostility of the Pharisees. Yikes. 

But what does it mean to “love yourself”?  We are often afraid to embrace ourselves because we don’t want to come off as arrogant or self-absorbed. 

However, I’d like to argue quite the contrary. We won’t be able to claim our identities as God’s beloved children if we are too busy denying ourselves any self-affection.  In Brennan Manning’s book titled, Abba’s Child, he develops this idea:

“If I am not in touch with my own belovedness, then I cannot touch the sacredness of others.  If I am estranged from myself, I am likewise a stranger to others. 

"Experience has taught me that I connect best with others when I connect with the core of myself.  When I allow God to liberate me from unhealthy dependence, on people, I listen more attentively, love more unselfishly, and am more compassionate and playful (58)."

I think loving one’s self is a discipline.  I don’t know what it looks like for you, but I hope you start with the little things. For me, it’s meant occasionally treating myself with ice cream, writing down my victories when I feel discouraged, reading books that are life-giving, and most importantly, forgiving myself when I make mistakes.  So as Justin Bieber would say, “you should go and love yourself.”  Really.  You’re fashioned in the image of the Creator of the Universe, and He is writing a story just for you.  I can’t think of anything more worthy of love. 

Tory Freeth grew up in Southern California with her incredible and outgoing family.  She recently graduated from Azusa Pacific University with her BFA in Acting for the Stage and Screen, as well as a minor in Journalism.  After closing “Empire the Musical” at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, she is back on the audition grind.  Tory hopes to one day have a full-time career in storytelling, inspiring others to embrace their own story as they embrace the One who has written it for them.