love out loud: self-love valentine
When people ask me what kind of writing I do, I usually say that, amongst other things, I write a column about relationships. Most people correctly assume that I write about romantic relationships, usually between two people, and usually between a lady and a dude (apologies about this; I try really hard to be inclusive and write about stuff that’s applicable whether you’re in a same- or opposite-sex relationship, but I’m just so hetero [and not in a needing-to-prove-I’m-not-gay-by-pointing-this-out way, but in an I-generally-find-women-far-more-attractive-than-I-do-men-but-I’m-yet-to-find-a-woman-I-sexually-desire way] that I don’t always get it right), and by its conventional definition this is what a relationship is: how we relate to something or someone else.
But what about the relationship we have with ourselves?
There are heaps of reasons that it’s important to love yourself. Often, these reasons are packaged within the quest for a partner, à la “how can you expect someone else to love you if you don’t love yourself?”, although I’m sure many of us could think of people who do indeed hate themselves but have nonetheless found someone who loves their misanthropic and/or self-destructive ways. True, there are advantages to loving yourself before loving someone else; you’re far more likely to demand respect and care in a relationship if you actually believe you deserve those things, for example, but self-love is important in ways that extend much further than just the potential for greater success in finding a mate.
We waste a lot of time and energy beating ourselves up about who and what we are. We’ll often do it about our appearance or body shape, but it certainly extends to the traits we think we do or don’t have as well. Thoughts like “I can’t do it” or “I’m not good enough” perpetuate these feelings of inadequacy and even self-loathing, and often it becomes so normal to us to have these thoughts pop up in our heads that we don’t even realise it’s happening.
Loving yourself, on the other hand, inspires you to be the best person you can be, without thinking about Miranda Kerr’s post-baby body or Tina Fey’s unwavering brilliance. It liberates you from others’ judgmental eyes, and keeps your head up when they say horrible things about you, because you know who you are. But perhaps more than anything else, it just feels good to love yourself. It makes you happy. And although the notion of happiness can seem corny or lame, it’s actually just what it is: being happy.
A few days ago, I got an email from Miss Representation, with some tips about celebrating Valentine’s Day a little differently this year. Right at the top of the list was this little gem:
Write yourself a Valentine. List the things you like about yourself in your personal valentine. And, when you write others cards, remember to avoid complimenting physical appearance and instead focus on their talents, generosity, unique personality, and/or intelligence.
I think this is something we could all benefit to do from time to time, irrespective of whether we’re single or have a partner to stroke our ego for us. You should never be dependent on another person for your self-worth, no matter how great they are.
So this Valentine’s Day, whether you’re catching a horror flick with your friends, watching the sun set with your significant other, sharing a picnic with your dog, or spending the night in a restaurant with a bunch of other couples, make some time to write yourself a Valentine.
If nothing else, how can you expect someone else to love you if you don’t love yourself?
(Image credit: 1.)