By Ms. Doyle
Once a year, billions of people around the world buy flowers and candy to gift to those they cherish. Sometimes love notes are written, cards are signed with a flourish, or the truly adventurous soul hires a plane to skywrite their devotion to that significant other. And while I myself am a happily married woman for many years now, every year I cannot help but think of those who spend the day sad and alone, wishing they were not so.
Admittedly, at some point in time, we have all been in that position. Unaccompanied on Valentine’s Day… the day celebrated globally for lovers.
Have you ever thought about changing that concept? Truly turning the world on its head and reevaluating the notion of love?
I have, and this short editorial is where I will tell you why. First, let’s examine the definition of love. Courtesy of the Oxford Dictionary:
an intense feeling of deep affection.
a great interest and pleasure in something.
feel a deep romantic or sexual attachment to (someone).
Two out of three of those definitions say nothing about needing another person in your life to experience love. Only the third definition, used as a verb, mentions needing someone. Let that soak in. Truly contemplate it. You do not need someone else to feel love.
If I wanted to truly scandalize everyone I would gently point out that even in the verb’s definition of love, and its mention of sexuality, that you technically do not need another person to fulfill certain needs either. That is not the point of this article though, so I shall move on to make my case.
The only person you need to experience love in your lifetime is yourself.
Is our journey through our time on this earth undoubtedly sweeter surrounded by others that we hold great affection for, and in return hold a similar sentiment for us? Yes. Absolutely.
I am also not suggesting that people should never take that bold leap to put themselves out there emotionally in the hopes of meeting a life partner. That journey alone is one of life’s greatest adventures that I hope everyone gets the privilege to experience. Even when those attempts end in failure, after we patch ourselves up, we walk away wiser in some aspect.
Somehow though, through time, space and some weird sort of cultural mechanics I cannot begin to fathom, individuals forgot the rather important lesson that they need to love themselves.
You read that right. Love yourself.
Not in the aspects that might make a large portion of the population blush, or your mother to warn you that you will go blind or perhaps grow hair on your palms, but in an entirely psychological sense.
When was the last time you looked in the mirror and loved what you saw there? Not just physically, but mentally? When was the last time you saw yourself as a whole and thought “I’m happy with the person I am. I accept me for me.”?
Let us clarify what I am trying to impart here. I am not talking about checking your hair before you leave the house because you want to have a “good hair day”. Dig deeper. What we are talking about here is not skin deep. It is soul deep. At the very least, I am asking you to look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Do I like the person I am looking at?”
Too often, we as humans compartmentalize things mentally that we should just pull our big kid undies up and deal with. Our dislike with our physical appearance might be a small measure of our insecurities, but normally true lack of self-love runs much deeper. Whether it is due to emotional trauma from verbal or physical abuse, or because perhaps you might not be proud of the past you have morally, either way, it seems as though most people have that psychological link.
Now, let’s get the facts straight before I proceed any further: I am not a therapist. I am not a doctor, nurse or have any sort of medical or psychological degree. What I do have, however, is half a lifetime of self-disgust under my belt. For varied reasons ranging from emotional abuse, rotten life choices, trauma I would not wish on my worst enemy and a few medical diagnoses that the average citizen would cringe at.
Want to know what else I have these days?
It took me a long time to get where I am today. Am I perfect? No. Not by any means. In fact, I would tell anyone who asks me that I am as far from perfect as you can possibly get. I will never be that woman who birthed babies and came back to a phenomenal physical figure. Nor will I ever be that person who can say they have absolute certainty in their life’s decisions. I constantly question myself. The difference is that now after years of practice, I know the difference between healthy questioning of thoughts or actions and insecure, self-loathing of issues that I might be having in my life.
If you depart from this editorial with only one thing, let it be this quote:
“To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.” – Oscar Wilde
It is the truth. No matter what, learn to love yourself as you are. You don’t need to be a supermodel or a saint. What you need to be in order to be happy is your authentic self.
Nothing less, nothing more.
And if you need professional help in the form of a doctor, medication, or a therapist to help you learn how to love yourself, there is no shame in that. Make that appointment. If people were meant to be perfect they would all look like supermodels and have the heart and soul of Gandhi.
We are born, forged and grow into imperfections for a reason. Embrace yours and make the most of it.
More than anything, remember, you are loved. Even if not by yourself yet, probably by more people in your life than you realize. But start with the most important person first – the one looking back at you in the mirror.
And whether you have a significant other in your life on Valentine’s Day or not, go enjoy it! As long as you’re not robbing Peter to pay Paul, there’s nothing wrong with pampering yourself a little.
Until next time,