Y.O.U

Shani Cherry

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Let me explain how I discovered the difference between being happy with yourself and loving yourself… and why you should too.

I have always, always had love for myself. I always thought I loved myself but it dawned on me last year that maybe I didn’t love me in the way I was supposed to. I definitely liked being me, I have always been proud to be me, I have always wanted others to feel good about being who they are too. I am that woman you see in the street telling random women that they are beautiful or I love their outfit. I don’t think we do this enough.

My downfall however, is the fact that I have always put others first. I have been silent for other people to be comfortable. I have allowed people to walk all over me and forgive them due to my love and loyalty. Putting yourself first is not selfish, when you know you need to do something for yourself… Do it. I learnt this the hard way.

Last year I was putting together my first EP, my first big project and something I was sooooo excited about! I let my team take advantage of me by not standing up for myself, for not telling them I wasn’t happy with how the process was going. They did whatever they wanted and I kind of just rolled along with it. I didn’t want to rock the boat or upset anyone. I just wanted a perfect first project. Although I had a strong shoulder to cry on it didn’t make me any happier because the problems weren’t being addressed! Now when the project was ready and we finally had the launch, I was overwhelmed with the amount of support I had. My mind was running all over the place with so many thoughts that I still can’t believe I managed the whole show without messing up!

The only issue with this is that other people felt I had messed up. I didn’t give enough credit, I should have done this or that. Now I had so much on my mind and I wasn’t taking care of myself how I was meant to. How could I possibly do all of this as well? I felt they wanted credit in areas where they didn’t even deserve it but I didn’t know how to approach it because I hadn’t spoken up sooner. I didn’t act ‘selfishly’ and put my feelings and mental state over anyone else. It meant that I fell out with these friends, we haven’t really spoken since.

All of a sudden I felt sad all the time, I was feeling insecure, I just didn’t feel like myself. I wanted to be happy, I just didn’t know how to be happy. I didn’t want to go anywhere, I didn’t know how to talk to anyone. That strong shoulder I had to cry on took the brunt of it and it damaged that relationship too. I was damaging all the relationships around me. After months of trying to figure out what was going on, and avoiding doctors as I have a severe (and until now) secret fear of being told I’m absolutely insane. My strong shoulder and I realised I was going through some serious anxiety problems. Bordering on depression but I think I managed to keep myself just above that water, but then that could be pride speaking. I had to step back and look my life, dissect every part of it that could be affecting me and make changes.

• I opened up to my friends that I had been pushing away, they were only upset I didn’t tell them sooner.

• I changed jobs, fresh start where no one knew my previously stressed self.

• I started putting myself first and speaking up more.

• I figured out what was making me anxious and I started learning how to handle it. It was hard, one of the hardest and most upsetting things I’ve ever had to do. Facing your demons are always tough, but you have to and you have to learn to love them too.

My final step… My new EP. The last EP I was Lost in Wonderland, this time I would be the Queen of Hearts! This was my release of all my pent up, confused feelings. I could somewhat explain what I had been dealing with to people who wanted to listen but most importantly, I could talk to people dealing with something similar with no idea how to deal with it or if they’re the only one. Now the most pivotal song on this EP for me was Y.O.U.

I was writing what I assumed would be my love song for the EP, my newest ode to relationships and that feeling they bring. Except after writing the first verse and part of the chorus I got stuck, I realised that I was writing this all wrong. Why am I writing a love song to some imaginary figure when I wasn’t even loving myself? I had been writing things aimed at someone else when it was what I felt for me. So I switched it. The whole thing. I finally opened up my heart and spoke to myself. The whole project, especially this song reminded me how much I have gone through, how I battled to be where I am now, how proud I am to be me and just how much I want everyone to look and themselves in the same way.

Whatever you do make sure you find your way to remind yourself you love you, through song, poetry, dance, personal mantras, painting your nails everyday. Find one and make sure you show yourself that you are special. That you have time for yourself. Surround yourself with people who won’t be mad at you for putting yourself first, don’t EVER be silent for someone else to be comfortable. Whatever you need to do, do it. You are the most important person in your life.

One last thing.. A few of my personal favourites when I’m feeling like I need to remind myself how special I am…

• Fantasia – Even Angels

• India.Arie – Get It Together

• P!nk – F**kin Perfect

• Jojo – Exceptional

Nicki Minaj – Still I Rise

• Shani Cherry – Y.O.U

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