Last weekend I went to a concert, and something kind of absurd happened.
Normally, the details of the concert wouldn’t matter in the context of this story, but I feel as though it’s important to note that it was an Ariana Grande show, because after almost a year of feeling as though nearly every song on her “Sweetener” and “Thank U, Next” albums had been written specifically for me and what I had gone through in the previous 8 months, I was feeling extraordinarily hype, and rightfully wanted a few pictures of myself at the event to commemorate it.
Right before the show started, my bff and I scouted out the perfect backdrop for our celebratory pictures (note: we were at a busy casino, so options were limited) and eventually decided on a pretty rock wall near the bottom of a public escalator. As I photographed the beauty that is my college roommate, an older man walked up to us, parking himself about five feet away from where we were standing and proceeded to creepily glance at us every few seconds. We paid little attention to him — as uncomfortable as it was to have him so close — and continued taking pictures, eventually switching places so that I could be the subject and she could be the photographer extraordinaire. A few minutes into the second round of our photo shoot, however, the man looked up at someone he knew coming down the escalator, pointed at me with a sheepish grin and yelled, “Yeah, this girl’s in LOVE with herself!”
Now, the Ashley from a year ago would have probably felt so embarrassed that she would’ve ended the photo shoot immediately and settled for that one picture in which her hands looked less than graceful, but her hair looked kind of alright and the rest of the pic might have been salvageable with a few basic edits. However — maybe due to a build-up of confidence that I had worked on accumulating throughout the past few months of being alone, or perhaps a direct result of the high I was on from having convinced myself to spend a phone-number-like amount on concert tickets even though my bank account looked more like an area code (note to self: my finances are not set up like Ari’s, and “7 Rings” does not actually apply to my life) — instead of running away, I simply looked him in the eye and said, “Yup, I AM in love with myself! And I hope you’re in love with yourself too, because what’s not to love?” (Although there were some things I personally didn’t love, but that’s neither here nor there.) “I hope you love yourself so that you can spread love to others,” I continued, “And maybe you can get some nice pictures of yourself taken, too.” His grin almost instantly disappeared, and he let out a chuckle that was neither confident nor genuine. His friend then stepped off the escalator, and within seconds the man disappeared under his friend’s wing, both of them walking into the busy crowd, never to be seen (by us) again.
Needless to say, I continued my photo shoot feeling not the slightest bit fazed by an older man’s attempt to publicly shame me for feeling confident, and by the end of our shoot I had a few new pictures that made me feel truly amazing inside and out. As soon as we were done, we danced our way to our seats and belted out the lyrics to “NASA” and “Break Up with Your Girlfriend” alongside scores of teenage girls and their younger brothers who had gotten dragged to the show along with them, overall having an absolutely perfect night that I truly wish I could relive over, and over again.
Moral of the Story: Being in love with yourself is not a flaw, it is a strength, and you should never feel ashamed for doing so. Before you claim to love anything or anyone else in this world, you should always work towards establishing that love within yourself, first. It takes time, and admittedly is something that I continue to work on daily, but seriously — only when you love who you are inside and out can you genuinely spread love to others.
And please, if you see two women minding their business and looking downright beautiful while doing so, don’t try to insult them. You might just get an embarrassing blog post written about you.