As one of my favorite days approaches, I would like to breach the topic of love with y’all. Now, I hope I haven’t lost half my audience already because sometimes just the notion of love makes people want to vomit. I get it, trust me, I do. Fun fact though, love isn’t only made for people in romantic relationships. I have been single for most of my life and I have found head over heels love in a lot of different ways. I have friendships that make me want to scream from a mountain top. I have the love of my family… and that love is so unconditional I could steal all their clothes and they would still love me. I could literally go on and on about the love I have outside of a romantic relationship, but the one I really want to discuss today is the love I have for myself.
TBH, Valentine’s Day was not always one of my favorite days. In fact, in high school I used to make sure I wore black. I had to mourn the fact that I was, yet again, all alone. No one was buying me flowers. It was that ‘none for Gretchen Wieners’ rage I would feel. “Why don’t boys like me?” I would cry, as Dashboard Confessional sang ballads of heart break into my ear. Did I mention I was an emo kid in high school? Maybe boys did like me in high school. I would never know though, because I was too busy hating myself to ever notice. And of course, I was pining for the boy I would never actually want to love me. The cool kid, on the football team, who was a bully. This became a cycle in my life. Falling for the wrong boys. Wishing that they would love me back, when they were monsters and I should have wanted nothing to do with them.
My early 20’s became a mad hunt for boys. I was running out of time. Not sure where I was getting my time table, but I felt far behind. I would search for the wrong love, mostly because it was the most convenient love. Any boys that would listen. Usually it was boys at the bar and usually they weren’t really listening. They would listen just enough to make me think that maybe it could go somewhere. Surprise! It never went very far. I would literally take a puzzle piece that was the complete wrong shape and try to make it fit. “Well, they hate the type of music I am into and they mock my Poli. Sci. major… but he seems like a good guy.” How low I had the bar back then. ‘He seems like a good guy’ now sounds like the title to a horror movie I should produce.
Then BAM! I turn 25 and something happens. I don’t know if it was my move to NYC, the fact that I was halfway to 30, or knowing that Hillary Clinton was running for president, but something in me changed. For the first time in my life, I looked in the mirror and I thought about how excited I was to see where my life goes. MY life. I wasn’t thinking about my life as it related to finding a boyfriend. I was picturing me as a social worker, me as a representative of the United States, me as a mother, me as someone who has paid off their credit card. Everything before that moment was me getting by until the moment I found a boyfriend. I hated myself. HATED. I thought that if I found someone to tell me I was beautiful, then it would be true. Of course, I had my friends telling me every day that I was beautiful, but it didn’t count because they weren’t men. It didn’t look like the love I saw in movies.
However, the biggest thing that was missing prior to my 25th birthday light bulb was me loving myself. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it before. The only person that I am truly in a relationship with for the rest of my life is me. I am with me until the day I day. It sounds corny and stupid. I get it. I’ve talked to many people that believe self-love is bullshit. Maybe I am wrong. I did spend 25 years believing my happiness was hidden in some guy, so it’s fair. But coming to the realization that I was not going anywhere really made me want to try to love myself. Sure, some days are harder than others. I won’t sit here and pretend that I never think about finding a partner or that I never call myself ugly. I have those days more than I would care to admit. The difference now is that it’s not all I know.
I know that I want a partner. Someone who fits the puzzle piece without destroying my shape. And I know that for every day I feel ugly, I make myself look in the mirror and say one nice thing about myself. These shifts alone have made a world of difference for me. And of course, the use of self-care. I know self-care sounds like a fad currently, but to me self-care is telling yourself you love you in even the smallest ways possible. Therefore, Valentine’s Day has become one of my favorite days. I am essentially dating myself. Since the age of 25, I have taken myself out on a date every Valentines Day. At 25, I got myself a massage. At 26, I treated myself to some float therapy. At 27, I am starting a self-esteem group at the local high school. This is my favorite gift yet.
This Valentines Day, I dare you to date yourself and see how it feels. You may just fall in love with that person.