Twenty-something finds calling while reflecting on self-love
By Joy Davis For The Sun March 6, 2013 4:32PM
Jillian Johnston, 24, of Naperville, began Love Letters to Yourself one year ago. The project encourages participants to write themselves a love letter, in hopes of raising self-esteem and promoting self-love.
How it started
Here is part of Jillian Johnston’s love letter to herself:
We’ve come a long way, and I am so proud to look back at the journey we have gone on and continue to go on. You amaze me every day with what you accomplish physically and emotionally. I want you to know the potential within you, and I am here to constantly remind you of that. I am able.
I will not catch you when you fall, I will fall with you and love you every second of this opportunity of growth. I will stand up with you as you brush us off and continue to push on, and I will love you every moment of the process. I will love you as you succeed and create the reality you imagine, and I will love you through this whole process all over again. I am here to remind you that no one is here to catch you, but to let you know that you alone hold the strength to save yourself and find the grounding you need. I am strong.
I know you doubt yourself and question your worthiness of different successes in life. If you don’t believe in you, why should anyone else? You are beautiful, compassionate, intelligent and capable. You have overcome obstacles that seemed impossible at the time and came back stronger and more sure of yourself than before. You are amazing. And, the fact you care and realize the importance of loving yourself is a huge step, have strength in that. I believe in my potential.
I am here to help you grow and develop into the person you want to become. You are living your dream each and every day. You challenge yourself to grow in each moment. You hold gratitude and appreciate in your heart, and I am so proud of you. I am here for you every step of the way.
I know you crave stability and certainty. Life is all about twists and turns. You didn’t think you could make it on your won, but look how well you are doing. You pushed your fear aside and let love be your center, that is me. My love for you is unconditional; this is one thing I know for sure. This is your foundation. I can’t wait for this journey to continue. Keep patience and show understanding for yourself in every moment because you deserve it.
I see you,
Updated: April 9, 2013 10:55AM
A year ago, Jillian Johnston found herself in a position many young people do — especially in these trying economic times.
Johnston, 24, had come home to Naperville with a bachelor’s degree in sociology in hand. Instead of finding her dream job, Johnston found herself at a low point in her life.
One night, she lay awake at night, contemplating how she wanted someone to write her a love letter to brighten her spirits. But Johnston had an epiphany: one letter would not suffice. The fleeting happiness of receiving the letter would fade, and then she would desire another love letter. What she needed was to write a love letter to herself.
From this realization, Johnston thought of how powerful it would be to promote self-love to women worldwide. Thus began Love Letters to Yourself, a project in which Johnston encourages women to write themselves a love letter.
“I don’t think there’s a person out there who doesn’t need to work on self-love. Every single person needs self-love,” Johnston said. “Many women throughout the world don’t think they’re worthy of anyone’s love, let alone their own.”
Naperville native Kelsey Horton is a participant in Love Letters to Yourself. Horton, 23, was drawn to the project for its celebration of honesty and vulnerability.
“Culturally, we tend to equate self-love with grandiosity and an overinflated ego. We are encouraged to play small and be humble, which ultimately leads to people settling for unfulfilling lives,” Horton said. “I liked the idea of empowering people to speak freely about the brilliant and dazzling people they truly are.”
Horton is one of many participants. Johnston has received numerous letters and hopes to collect at least 100 by August, with the goal of publishing a book. The profits from the book will be donated to women’s empowerment organizations.
Numerous studies have analyzed the low self-esteem prevalent in young women, starting from the age of 10. A large part of Johnston’s project is addressing this problem by encouraging healing. Johnston is hosting workshops throughout the Naperville/Aurora area, in which she offers materials on coming to terms with hardships and past regrets. This is the first step to self-love, which Johnston describes as a process.
“Self-love means having patience and kindness with yourself. Some weeks are worse than others, and sometimes it’s a struggle,” Johnston said. “It’s a balance system; when you feel down, re-adjust. It’s a hard process, but it’s worth it.”
Horton is no exception to this process. As a participant, Horton has opened herself up to vulnerability upon considering who she is and what she loves about herself.
“When I started writing my love letter to myself, my first tendency was to focus on celebrating the external things I have done,” Horton said. “But it takes a deeper kind of bravery to express love for who we are at the core, beyond the outside clatter of our accomplishments.”
While Love Letters to Yourself is open to all genders, Johnston concentrates on women.
This project has shown her how passionate she is about helping women, and she wants to continue her education by getting a master’s degree and finishing a doctoral program
“When we connect with ourselves, we can better love others,” Johnston said.
Johnston is looking for submissions from all walks of life. Those interested can find out more on her website at loveletterstoyourself.wordpress.com.