Loving Ourselves First

by Naima Bryant, Youth Case Manager, CW House
As a Youth Case Manager for GLIDE Housing, I bring love to my work. For our Razzle Dazzle Girls Group (ages 8 – 10), we did a special Valentine’s Day activity. We made two Valentine’s Day cards – one for ourselves and one for a friend.  A lesson that is hard for many of us is to love ourselves first. Keeping this lesson in mind, I had the girls make a card for themselves before making one for a friend, family member, or another girl in the group.
As the activity progressed, one of the 9 year-old girls had a total meltdown around making a card for herself. It was virtually impossible for her to say or hear any positive traits about herself. Each time I said something positive she rebutted with the exact opposite. I would say “you’re beautiful” and she would say, “I’m ugly.”  I would say “Finish the sentence, I love myself because..,” and she would say, “But I hate myself.”
I was heartbroken hearing her say these words.  Although, this is what surrounds her and what she has learned from the women in her household, this will not be the outcome for her. This is the starting point. My work at the Cecil Williams GLIDE Community House allows me to create a space where love can grow. This group may have been the first step in a lifetime journey for this young girl changing the generations of women (and men) in her family and around her that have been, for whatever  reason, unable to love themselves. This is why I love my work at GLIDE. I can use these experiences and build from them. And remember that every time I see her I will tell her how amazing she is and how much I love her.
I hope when she takes this Valentine home, she will look at it every morning until she truly believes it.
I love myself because I am beautiful.
I love that I am smart.
I love myself because I am funny.
My family loves me and I love my family.
I love myself.