The other day, my friend took a photo of me and I was prepared to hate it when she showed me. However, when she turned her phone, to my surprise, I actually thought I looked good. Normally when I see pictures of myself , I pick apart my flaws and generally think I look awful. So on this night, it was nice to actually not cringe at a photo of myself. This experience made me really think about how critical we can be of ourselves, and while I am a huge supporter of self-love, sometimes I even forget to engage in it myself.
While it’s hard as hell to love yourself 24/7 365, it’s important to make a solid effort to show yourself some love. You are the one person who will be by your side for the rest of your life no matter what. Not your mom, not your boyfriend, not your sixth grade best friend…YOU. So, if you’re treating people who may be impermanent in your life with kindness and love, shouldn’t you be doing the same to the person who is the most permanent in your life?
Hint: the answer is yes.
As I said, loving yourself is not easy, and it’s not going to be constant. There is no magic switch that you can flip that will make you love yourself consistently forever and ever until the end of time. So, to me, the ability to love yourself has a conditional definition, one that seems more attainable – or at least I think it does.
Self love: the ability to love yourself the way you are from time to time; the ability to accept yourself the way you are; taking the negative thoughts you have about yourself as they come, while reminding yourself of positive things; finding happiness within yourself and your passions, not from another individual.
One summer when I was younger, I went to a summer camp where a camp counselor told us something that has stuck with me to this day. She told us that when we’re looking for someone to love, we can’t be looking for the other half of our circle. Instead, we need to complete our own circle, and then find another full circle with which we can create a link.
Despite keeping this anecdote in the back of my mind, I have definitely been guilty of allowing someone else to dictate my happiness. I’ve done it out of my general fear of what others think of me, in my friendships and in my romantic relationships. However, I’ve learned a lot from those experiences and now find myself in a place where I try to remind myself of that story whenever I’m involving myself in a new relationship or reflecting on a current one. It’s important to remember that it’s okay to be selfish sometimes in order to make and/or keep yourself a whole circle. Only then can you link firmly to another. If you are incomplete, any chain that has been made can be easily broken.
So, today being Valentine’s Day, I thought it was important to remind everyone that even when loving others we need to first and foremost love ourselves. Whether we are single, dating, in a long-term relationship, married, divorced… We all need to love ourselves first. Today, I challenge you to do something for you. Do something for your loved ones of course, but also do something for you. (Personally, I bought myself cute lingerie pajamas yesterday – who cares if I’m single, they’re cute, comfy af, and make me feel fab.)
Trust me, the love you give to others will only be strengthened by your ability to love yourself.
Happy Valentine’s Day!