The time I did a love challenge

A few weeks ago I had this brilliant idea. Inspired by Aileen Xu and her wonderful Artist of Life workbook, I decided to persuasively invite my two dearest friends to do a love challenge.

In her workbook, Aileen encourages us to write down 10 things we love about ourselves. To nurture self-love and confidence. As I was writing down some things I sincerely loved about me, I began to wonder – how different are the things I love the most about myself from the things the people closest to me love about me? And what can I learn from that?


WHAT IS THE LOVE CHALLENGE?


It consisted of the following:

  1. we each write down 5 things we love about ourselves
  2. we each write down 5 things we love about the other person
  3. a few days later we email each other our answers
  4. share with each other our reactions to what the other has said

HOW IT WENT


The first thing my friend told me when she reacted to my email was something along the lines of “I’m surprised by almost everything you wrote about me.” On the other end, I wasn’t so much surprised by her answers (because she usually expresses her admiration for others naturally), but more on the side of “I don’t usually see any of these as such great things to love about me, or consider them my strengths, but I am so glad that you appreciate them!”

On my email I wrote this about my friend:

“[I love] your shamelessness: yeah. for me who’s always been ashamed of so many of my feelings and likes, and afraid to show my feelings, you are incredible. I love things silently, you love them out loud without caring who hears. truly. it’s inspiring.”

The absolute best part about this whole challenge was the feedback I got from my friend on this particular point. She couldn’t comprehend why someone would be ashamed of liking something. “What is there to be ashamed about liking something? There’s nothing bad about it!”

Later, I would tell her that if you try too hard to fit in, and if people consistently tell you that something you like is stupid as you grow up, you end up being ashamed to show your love for certain things. To me, it’s always heartwarming to see someone else express their love shamelessly, because I can’t (and I really wish I could!).

This is what she told me:

“(…)because I didn’t see you learn how to love things, it’s like it was always a part of you. Because you don’t express the surprise of loving something it doesn’t seem like a new thing, it just seems like it has always been there. I didn’t even consider it love, I just considered it a part of your personality. I just thought you were a pink girl. I don’t think about me like that. I separate myself from the things that I love, but when I think about you, I don’t separate them. They are all you. Weird, right?”

Did you notice that what I love so much about her is something I don’t have that I wish I did?

I admire what I see in her as bravery because being honest about my likes and feelings is hard for me, therefore her openness about it could only be perceived as bravery for me. And I admire her for it. But to her, it’s the simplest thing!

My friend Sara is not afraid of showing her likes and feelings – it’s the most natural thing! So, to her, she’s not being brave when she does it, meaning she will not value this quality in her the same way I do.

What’s more, because to Sara it’s natural to show excitement over a new thing, and since I didn’t behave like that, my likes and loves didn’t even register as such to her. They were just who I am.

It was when I came to this conclusion that I knew I had found the answer I was looking for when I created this challenge: the things we love about others are a reflection of the things we value and fear the most in our lives. We love others in conformity with how we love ourselves. We hate others in conformity with how we hate ourselves.

In simpler terms, we tend to love and appreciate in others what they have that we think we lack, and would love to also have. And because love and hate are so connected, we might also hate others for the same reason.

This is why loving yourself is so important. Because the more parts of me I love, the more parts in others I will find worthy of love as well. I will not resent, I will appreciate. I will not envy, I will celebrate and support.


LET’S DO THE CHALLENGE TOGETHER?


Since it turned out to be such a nice way to share love for me and my friend, I thought, on this month that is considered to be the month of love, why not spread the love further? Let’s all share one thing we love about ourselves, and one thing we love about someone else in our lives.

Here’s what you have to do to participate:

  1. Go to my INSTAGRAM or  TUMBLR (if you wish to do the challenge anonymously).
  2. Leave me a message with something you love about yourself + something you love about someone else in your life (no need to identify who the other person is)

I will compile all the answers and share them on Valentine’s Day on a very special post!

Up for it?

Let’s spread the love ❤

P.S.: Please remember that if you do this I might share you answer on the blog and on Instagram, so before submitting your answer, consider whether you’d like to do this anonymously or not!

Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash

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Why Kim Namjoon is a remarkable leader

I remember being a little kid and, in my naive simplistic eyes, dividing grown ups into black and white categories: moms and dads, rich and poor, cool and cranky… the categories went on and on. Among them was bosses and employees.

It was only somewhere between high school and college that I began to understand that between those two categories I defined in my childhood, there is another, much more important one: the leaders.

In college, I was taught through lessons the difference between a leader and a boss. I took my notes, I passed my tests, and I knew the importance of that difference. But, after graduation, it’s in observing people who lead that I learn the most.

Kim Namjoon is one of those people.


WHO HE IS


Namjoon and a Rainbow

Being only 23, and the leader of 6 other boys who have taken the world by storm, breaking records, earning the trust of millions of fans, has made me rethink my perspective of what makes a good leader.

In case you have been sleeping under a rock for the past few months and don’t recognize him, Kim Namjoon (a.k.a RM), is a Korean rapper/musician, leader of the Korean group BTS. If you know me, you know I love BTS. And I don’t love them just because. Although I don’t want to  delve too much into the reasons why the group is amazing (I would probably get too carried away), the truth is, one of the biggest reasons why they are indeed great is because they have an incredibly talented leader guiding them through their career.

There’s no need to say much. We can all imagine what it would be like when 7 young people barely out of school get together to make music and become performers. How much conflict there must have been, how much insecurity and self hatred and fighting. All we have to do is think back to those group projects in school to know it’s not easy.

Now imagine doing that for 4 years, whilst somehow growing into friends that are like family, allowing everyone to have their say and their input, and, in the end, making beautiful songs that relate to every single one of them as well as their fans.

A boss cannot do that. A good leader can.


A REMARKABLE WEAKNESS


On more than one occasion, in songs and outside of them, Namjoon has discussed the fact that he has trouble loving himself. As an outsider, I first found it incredible – how someone who has done so many amazing things cannot find it in himself to love who he is. But the truth is, we are ruthless toward ourselves, aren’t we? Always expecting the impossible.

But you know, sometimes
I really really hate myself
To be honest, quite often
I really hate myself
When I really hate myself, I go to Dduksum
I just stand there with the familiar darkness

With the people that are smiling
And beer, which makes me smile
Coming to me softly
Fear, which holds my hand

– RM “Reflection”

Surprisingly, this unfortunate fact about Namjoon was what connected with me. I found in him a reflection of myself (pun intended).And a chance. As he began his journey to love himself, I looked at him and thought ‘if someone who has accomplished so much and is so kind hearted and real can find it hard to love himself, then even though I feel the same, maybe I have and will accomplish great things too.’

And it’s the simple fact that I can see myself in him that changes the whole way in which I see leadership. Because a leader who is relatable is one that does not keep a distance, does not inspire others by appearing to be always strong, does not put himself in a different position than those he is guiding. No, a leader who is relatable stands with those he leads as an equal, but knows how to nurture strengths and work on weaknesses. Because he knows his own, and he wears them on his sleeve to serve as an example.

Weaknesses can be worked on, strengths can always be stronger.

And, in doing so, it’s as if he’s looking at me and saying ‘if I can do it, so can you. And I love you, even if some days it’s still hard to love me too.’

Thank you for leading me towards believing in myself, Kim Namjoon.


There are many great leaders in this world, Namjoon is just one very personal choice. Is there a leader who inspires you in your daily life? Let’s talk about it in the comments bellow!