STORY #12: Love Yourself

“Don’t let anyone dim your light or make you feel like less than what you are. Self-Love is the best love, and we should all practice it each and every day as much as we can!”

Shardia Strowbridge is a One Common Unity (OCU) Fly By Light (FBL) Alumni Facilitator. She is one of the talented artists featured in the music video, LOVE YOURSELF. Born and raised in Washington D.C., Shardia sometimes goes by “Shar,” “Sneaky,” or “SneakyBar-Shar.” 

When Shardia first got involved with Fly By Light, she was a student who attended Lincoln Multicultural Middle School and Bell Multicultural High School. Today, Shardia shares her story and talks about the impact Fly By Light has had on her life, helping her find her way and care for herself on a deeper level—just like the theme of the song: LOVE YOURSELF!

LOVE YOURSELF! was initially written for a showcase performance at a Fly By Light (FBL) retreat. Together, with my sister Nardia, Delvin, and Damonte (also known as Sneaky Bar-Shar, Nfinity Zhy, Dougie D, and D.O.C.), we wrote this song to create something meaningful at a Performance Troupe retreat back in 2018. We incorporated our own unique perspectives, artistry, and talents, including vocals, lyrics, styles, moves, and overall presence. It really made the music video come to life. I’m inspired by each of them every day, in different ways, as far as their talents go. And I know we’ll all continue to grow in our lives and in our artistry as the years progress.

I became a Fly By Light youth when I was in 8th grade, and I met many friends with whom I’ve stayed in close contact over the years. I have participated in many retreats, different annual showcases, and other performance events as a FBL Alumni, FBL Alumni Facilitator, and FBL youth participant. By joining the Fly by Light program, I have learned new things about myself and the world around me. 

The program helped me to develop different skills, such as how to build meaningful relationships. I have also become closer to many of my friends and peers, which have helped me gain different perspectives on life. Not to mention, all of these experiences have granted me access to various new opportunities. I have developed a greater passion for music which has allowed me to perfect my own craft of singing and rapping. Whenever I can be part of a creative or artistic process, I get a strong sense of happiness and belonging. 

Aside from making music, I feel called to do many different things with my time and talents. I especially love being an alumni facilitator because this position allows me to simultaneously be a student and a teacher. OCU actively promotes love and appreciation in all spaces, especially amongst the youth and fellow staff members. I believe this has helped me learn how to set boundaries, express my thoughts freely, and be understood by others, which are all forms of self-love. 

Loving yourself means taking care of yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually. It means having compassion for yourself, even when you’re wrong and make mistakes. It means being able to pick yourself up when you’re feeling down. I think loving yourself really just means accepting yourself as you are—even with your flaws, and still being able to celebrate and congratulate your accomplishments. 

To practice self-care, you must indulge in things that bring you genuine joy, which looks different from person to person. I hope listeners can take away a sense of self-appreciation from our song because feelings like that help you get through different situations when you may feel down. Self-care also means you seek a partner that encourages you to love yourself and be the best version of yourself. All of these themes are equally important. 

I hope this song serves as a reminder for women to love themselves despite what society has to say! Today, women feel ridiculously pressured. Women are held to nearly impossible standards regarding how they look, how they should dress, the way they should act, and even down to their body types. Self-love is also crucial for POC to consciously practice because our ancestors were not taught to love themselves. In fact, our ancestors were taught the complete opposite. So, as people of color, we must honor them as much as we can by learning to love ourselves. Don’t let anyone dim your light or make you feel less than you are. 

Self-Love is the best love, and we should all practice it each and every day as much as we can!

Shardia Strowbridge | Alumni Facilitator

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