I'm single, and it’s really easy to be cynical about Valentine’s Day. But - while I can’t get behind the forced dinner dates and cheesy gifts of this Hallmark holiday - I can always get behind it's message: love. And although I don't have one “special someone” to celebrate with this year, I feel lucky that I have many, countless special someones to love on, all over the world, every day of the year. So from the amazing network of people in my life, to the beautiful message of the superbowl halftime show, to that elusive thing we call self-love, there’s plenty of reasons to get behind this holiday.
A few years ago, as I embarked on this journey of “finding myself,” knowing I was meant for something different but struggling to figure out what it was, and furthermore struggling to trust that it would all come together, I read and heard a lot about self-love. Apparently, it was the key to everything. But how do you get it?! I’d think: I like myself, I’m pretty cool, I have a good job, I’m funny…. Yeah I love myself, why don’t I feel something clicking into place? I might have thought I looked good on paper, but I wasn’t truly loving myself… not yet.
Think about your best friend, someone you really love, someone you want the best for all the time. You think she’s beautiful, amazing, inside and out. When she sits across from you at brunch and insists that she looks like shit, you tell her she’s gorgeous (and you feel truly baffled that she can’t see it herself). When she’s beating herself up for making a “mistake,” you remind her she had good reason for making her choice at the time, and you don’t let her call herself any names for it. When she’s losing steam you deliver your finest pep talk. When she’s feeling blue and just needs to vent, you listen. You say things like, “I understand, “ “You’re right, that sucks,” and, ”It’s totally okay that you feel that way.” You don’t judge, you don’t tell her she’s wrong; you let her feel the way she feels, because there is never anything wrong with that. You want to see her healthy, happy and full of passion for however she spends her days. If something’s making her unhappy, you want her to change it. You want her to stand up for herself, demand to be treated the way she deserves, like the badass delicate flower she is. You make sure she’s taking care of herself, physically, emotionally, and mentally. You remind her to rest when she’s working too hard. You remind her of her goals when she gets distracted. You remind her to put herself first, always.
Now what if your best friend was you? What if you treated yourself this way? What if you let yourself feel your feelings, instead of feeling wrong for feeling them? What if you told yourself you’re beautiful, and amazing, and deserve to be treated with respect everywhere you go? What if, instead of focusing on your weaknesses, you focused on your strengths? What if you made yourself laugh; entertained yourself with your own little quirks; decided you really are awesome, and not weird, crazy, or damaged? What if you stopped putting pressure on yourself to be something you’re not, and started to embrace all the things that you are?
What if, this Valentine’s Day, you really, truly, commit to loving yourself?
And no, I don’t mean listing your qualities the way you would on your online dating profile. I mean showing it, just as you would show your best friend; I mean showing up, not bailing on the plans or commitments you’ve made with yourself. Respecting yourself, taking care of yourself, making the shifts in your life that are needed so you can be at your best, every day. I mean changing your self-talk, not pushing yourself so hard; fueling yourself with healthy nourishing foods, moving your body, and getting enough sleep. I mean making space in your life, for you.
It’s a work in progress, this self-lovin lifestyle. So this Valentine’s Day, in addition to sending love out to all the people that have touched my life and make my heart swell – who have played large or small but always important roles in my journey – I’m getting back to me. I’m simplifying and reprioritizing to make more space, to feel less crazed. Whether you have a special someone to celebrate with this year or not, I encourage you to take the opportunity to focus on yourself a bit, too. Find a way to make more room for you in your life. Commit to eating better, or getting back to your favorite workout, or picking up a book, or reconnecting with friends, or sleeping more. Take a bubble bath, take yourself on a date, take a break. Remind yourself you’re friggin gorgeous. Nourish yourself, say nice things to yourself, show yourself you care, and that elusive self-love thing will show up when you’ve become your own best friend.