We have probably seen a lot of “self love” on the internet.Some of us will post pictures on social media working out, eating a salad, vacationing in exotic places, or treating ourselves to expensive food and the captions will usually be about “taking care of our bodies/selves or putting ourselves first.” The current obsession with “self love and self care” has always made me wonder, since when did we not “love ourselves?” After all most of us are concerned with being happy first. However after reading Tiny Steps To Healing by Umwali Gloria, I realized that I might have my concept of “self love” twisted. I understood that self love was different from selfishness. Gloria is incredible in articulating the fact that while spoiling myself silly is important to the concept of “self love”, self love remains incomplete when one is not content with who they are and what they have to offer.

With social media everywhere, it is increasingly harder to be content and self aware. No matter how many good things that are happening in our lives, there seems to be a hundred other people who have better lives. On top of that we work so hard to brand ourselves as “people who have arrived” or as we call it in Kinyarwanda “abagafashe” that when we fall short of our internet illusions it is a less than pleasant experience. Our private failures are even magnified by our peers’ visible successes that we start to think the most unkind thoughts about ourselves when our realities don’t match with our images : unlucky, incompetent. Or worse,we throw ourselves pity parties and label ourselves as “unworthy.” The fact that we are a generation that “wants it all” at the expense of a healthy sense of self is what makes TSTH so relevant. Gloria spends a large chunk of her book encouraging us to celebrate ourselves by being vulnerable, never settling, forgiving ourselves for past mistakes, and spending time with ourselves so as to have a more conscious understanding of our place in the world. What is commendable about this book is that it acknowledges that “self love” is not a walk in the park. A lot of times self help books and websites will focus on things you can do to take care of yourself, but rarely does a book focus on the power of one’s mind in loving themselves genuinely. These lines in the poem “Tiny Steps to Self-acceptance” best demonstrate how big a vision and how much patience is required to change one’s self perception : “May all these thorns distract you not from seeing your bright petals.”

In a nutshell, TSTH is a good book for every millennial who struggles with self love or who simply wants to understand this trending concept. Moreover the poetry in the book is well penned, written in 3 languages( Kinyarwanda, French, and English), and it is clear that the author draws inspiration from best selling authors like Rupi Kaur. To elaborate, Gloria’s poems are visual with pictures just as Rupi’s poems are visual with drawings. Additionally, both poets put emphasis on simplicity and rawness of words rather than the rhyming and obscurity of some poems. Lastly, Gloria incorporates other themes beyond the main theme in her work like Rupi does in her poetry. Other themes included in TSTH are toxic masculinity encouraged by our societies in the poem “ A cry for Help.”, bad relationships in the poem “Dear Future Daughter”, and women as ghostwriters in their countries’ histories in the poem “ Memories from Mama’s Womb”. For non readers, the book is also free and short. I am eagerly waiting for TSTH 2 and I sincerely hope that we can all wait together for more of Gloria’s work.


Tiny Steps to Healing is available to read online: Visit Link


Book Details

  • Author: Umwali Gloria
  • Published in: 2018
  • Pages: 76