The discovery of self-love


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A heart surrounded by lights

Jada Welch, Reporter

Valentine’s Day presents itself as a way to express love towards a significant other or romantic partner. Regardless of one’s relationship status, the holiday is also an opportunity to practice self-love.

Northeast Valley News spoke with Katiri Kiona-Hererra, Scottsdale Community College’s Miss Indian SCC, about what self-love means to her.

“I show love to myself every day – whether its Valentine’s Day or not, whether it’s my birthday or not – every day I love myself,” Kiona-Hererra said. “I have to love myself in order to love others, there’s no other way.”

Kiona-Hererra spoke about her personal struggles in high school, and admitted she hated herself during this time.

“I used to hate myself a lot because I wasn’t the typical pretty girl. I was overweight, I was struggling with acne, I didn’t have the best-looking hair,” Kiona-Hererra said. “But as I got older I started to realize that no matter how much I tried to cover up what I thought was imperfect, I’m still going to have that.”

After her first breakup, Kiona-Hererra realized her self-loathing was negatively affecting her and became determined to accept herself. She gained confidence through wrestling and playing football, crediting the encouragement of others to her shift in mindset.

“I had some guy tell me that I was too much of a guy for him,” Kiona-Hererra said while laughing. “I told him, ‘if I’m too much of a man for you, then that’s fine. It’s who I am. It’s who I’m going to be and it’s all I know to be. I know how to be tough, I know how to be loud, I know how to be crazy.’ I just…it’s me.”

Photo courtesy of Tia BruisedHead
Scottsdale Community College’s Miss Indian SCC Katiri Kiona-Hererra

Ricky Duran, a community outreach volunteer, also encourages self-love and acceptance.

“My first serious relationship was more based on the worth I was putting into somebody else,” Duran said. “It was not necessarily based on my importance, but more so what made me important to the other person.”

Duran believes that in order for a relationship to be productive, both people need to have solid foundations within themselves that can then be built upon. He said in his current relationship, him and his partner communicate well and are both able to contribute to the relationship because they have a clear sense of their individual self-worth.

In his journey to discovering self-love, Duran devoted time to be “selfish,” and discover what would make him happy. He found parts of himself by working out and hiking, but ultimately came to love himself by exploring his faith.

“When I lost that [first serious] relationship, I knew something was missing, and for me that thing was God, and so I pursued that,” Duran said. “Being gay that’s a pretty hard thing to pursue.”

For Duran, the acceptance of his church community allowed him to truly be himself, which played a large role in his self-love journey.

“Having a community that acts with love in every way is amazing, and it definitely helps to reassure me that I am worthy of love,” Duran said.

Jada Welch/SCC
Ricky Duran standing in front of his confirmation saint, St Francis of Assisi.