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The Scarlet & Black

Forget Self-Gov, Focus on Self-Love

Ian Stout – Jeff Li

Grinnell College’s new alcohol policy, put into effect this year, has poured metaphorical Hawkeye onto our campus’ fiery Self-Gov debate. Is Self-Gov dead, or alive? In my opinion, you shouldn’t care. Arguing Self-Gov semantics does nothing to improve Grinnell students’ ability to function in an academically-rigorous school (see: GrinnHell) that has come under repeated fire for inadequate mental health care. Our school discourse on Self-Gov’s vitality has reached the point where our insubstantial arguments about life-or-death absolutes rest upon the subjective opinion. If you believe Self-Gov is alive at Grinnell College, then your belief is all that matters. The converse is equally true.

       So let’s talk about topics that can make a difference for daily student life. Let’s talk about Self-Love. In my view, Self-Love is a personal realization everyone can use effectively to tackle life’s daily challenges, such as deciding to get out of bed in the morning. In my column every week (the name of which unfortunately sounds similar to the popular literary trivialization of the BDSM community), I will be conducting four interviews, each with different people of various backgrounds. This week’s question is: “What does Self-Love mean to you?” I posed this question to better understand the differences, as well as the similarities, we all derive from the concept of Self-Love.

     Sam Han ’17 posed the idea that Self-Love inevitably stems from one’s self worth:

    “It’s like [South Korean entertainer Rain] once said. He took out a hundred dollar bill and said to one of his disciples: do you want this hundred dollar bill? The disciple said yes. He then took that bill and stepped on it, crumpled it up and threw it in the trash. He said do you still want the hundred dollar bill? The disciple still said yes. The point of the exercise was to show that no matter what happened, whether it was crumpled on or stepped on, the hundred dollar bill kept its value.”

  Another member of the Grinnell community, who wished to remain anonymous, added an important point about how self-worth shouldn’t be a competition. “You want to be … not better than. Don’t go for better than, because nobody is better than anyone else. Say ‘I’m as good as anyone else.’”

       Han pushed further to the topic of real-world application. “A very secure person [who loves themselves] is vocal through their actions.”

     Catherine Cuddy ’19 built on Han’s model of personal security-then-action by contributing her personal experience.

     “I started to focus on a system. For every negative thought I had, I would force myself to recognize something positive. … [Negative thoughts] would still come to my mind, but I would make a deliberate effort to not stay them aloud. After a few months of really pushing it, I was able to change my inner monologue so it was more positive. It has really helped overall with my ability to feel confident all the time.”

      But what do those methods look like for each person? Could you write a comprehensive step-by-step WikiHow guide (with pictures!) to achieve self-love? John McNamara ’18  agreed that Self-Love is entirely based on one’s circumstances.

       “Self-Love is taking care of myself at a base level and working my way slowly up to more complex tasks. For example, taking a shower leads to being more motivated leads to getting a paper done!”

      Self-Love’s feeling of “satisfaction” occurs at the chemical level for everyone, but the pathway to that chemical release varies greatly across social, ideological, and cultural borders. The crux I found in this week’s five-person discussion was this philosophical kernel: Self-Love is understanding that you have inherent worth as a human being, independent of anyone else’s achievements. If I could make a personal plug, let me say this: you are worth it. Go enjoy life the way you want to.

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