We have a new phrase in our house, one that keeps bouncing around the walls for no reason, except that we all like the sound of it. It’s a quote from RuPaul, drag queen extraordinaire. She ends every episode of the show she hosts, RuPaul’s Drag Race, with the same words, and they go like this:
“If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”
And then she calls out, “Can I get an A-men?” and there are hearty A-men!s from all the gathered contestants and judges. And from my kids. When RuPaul asks for an A-men, you give her an A-men. Actually, if RuPaul asks for a kidney, you give her a kidney.
Anyway, since the kids keep quoting this, I’ve been thinking about it a lot.
It’s not that I agree with the statement literally. Frankly, for someone like me, waiting to love yourself before loving other people would slow life down to a crawl. I’m kind of at a “meh” place about myself: I don’t necessarily want to be anyone else, but I’m not all that crazy about being me. I’m not convinced self-love was ever in the cards for an anxious, insecure, faux-pas-belching neurotic like me. To paraphrase the old break-up line, it’s not me, it’s me.
I am, however, quite crazy about my kids and husband and very glad I didn’t wait for self-adoration before launching into the whole building-a-family stage of my life. If anything could get me to be okay with myself, it’s the fact that I gave birth to four very wonderful human beings and haven’t–yet–messed them up completely.
But of course what RuPaul’s really saying is: Be whoever you want to be, accept and appreciate what you’ve been given without regretting what you haven’t, stop worrying about other people’s opinions, and if you’ve been marginalized or cast out, then fight for your rightful place in the world. And don’t ever let anyone ever tell you you’re not worthy of being loved.
And I guess once you’ve done all those things, it’s like one of those romantic comedies where two people are forced to travel together for a long period of time and have all these exciting and dangerous adventures, and even though they start off loathing each other, once they’ve fought side by side against the bad guys for long enough, they realize they’ve fallen in love along the way. Maybe if you fight enough battles for yourself, you realize that not only are you a tough, scrappy individual, you’re also one worth fighting for–and someone you could maybe even love.
And to that, I say a very hearty A-men.