With Valentine’s Day being an unofficial American holiday, I understand that there’s this societal pressure to engage in romantic love and be part of a relationship that transcends the individual. For me, this day is an opportunity to reflect on myself and on the importance of learning to love myself first.
As lovely and exciting as romantic love is, there is still something to be said about being your own best friend and learning to exist by yourself. Self-love and self-acceptance is not only key in one’s relationship with others, but also in one’s relationship with themselves.
Loving yourself means being more confident with your actions and choices, enjoying your own company, forgiving yourself for your mistakes and allowing yourself to grow without impeding the growth of others. Being comfortable with yourself, flaws and all is crucial for self-acceptance and self-love.
According to the Stanford Medicine Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education’s article by Dr. Emma Seppala, The Scientific Benefits of Self-Compassion, self-compassion is all about “treating oneself as one would a friend, being more mindful, and understanding our situation in the context of a larger human experience.”
The article goes on to say that, once we can become more understanding with our ourselves, “identify less with the emotions that surround our mistakes and understand that failure is a normal part of the larger human experience, we become stronger and more successful in the long run.”
Putting yourself in a positive mindset that sees the brighter side of occurrences in your life is the first step in opening yourself up to love. Love doesn’t even have to be love; it can be acceptance, tolerance, understanding and learning. It can be growth or self-improvement.
There are so many choices one can make in life that can help lead to a better version of oneself. There is more than one kind of love. Although we as a society may only idealize or romanticize one or two kinds, there are so many more options. There is the love you give yourself, the love you give your family and friends, the love you give to places and memories and the love you give to concepts and ideas.
Not all love is the same, but all love is equal. Never tear down other’s love in an effort to elevate your own and never allow someone else to tear down yours in an effort to elevate theirs.
Maybe you’re not ready to give your love to others and maybe you’re reluctant to give wholly give it to yourself. Believe it or not, that’s okay. Don’t give into the pressure of society or looming holidays with stuffed animals, a plethora of candy and little cards with declarations of love. You’re ready whenever you’re ready because there is no timeline for love, be it the love you choose to give others or the love you choose to give yourself.
Learning to be “you”, an individual is an important milestone before you allow yourself to become a part of “our” or “us” because how can someone truly immerse themselves in romantic love or even familial or platonic love if they cannot love themselves first?
So, this Valentine’s Day, if love has got you down, remember love exists everywhere and there is more than one kind of love to be a part of and have.
Rhania Kamel is a communications major from Jersey City, NJ. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.