Dear Self, I Love You

My relationship with myself is the most enduring, long-term commitment I will ever make, yet it’s the most neglected relationship I have. Why is it that I can’t stand to watch someone hurt my best friend, yet never take the same consideration for myself? I instantly comfort my friend and insist she’s wrong about every self-deprecating comment, but I’m the one who launches these very attacks on myself. I see myself daily in every passing reflection, however I don’t take time to value it. Instead, I find flaws in my appearance and ignore its virtues. Our culture labels self-adoration as conceit, but it’s time we decided to embrace the self-love.

This Valentine’s Day, I’ve decided to abandon my typical single-girl plans and put self-love first. I want to celebrate my relationship with myself and make a promise to make it even stronger.  

I’m going to be honest. In my eighteen-year-long relationship with myself, I’ve been a terrible significant other. When I should have valued my unique traits, I longed to shed them and be normal. When I was upset, I didn't try to cheer myself up. When I was self-conscious, I cursed my body instead of celebrating the fact it was the very reason I’m alive.

If someone else had treated me the way I’ve treated me, I would have bolted a long time ago. I deserve someone who will treat me well and value what I have to offer, but how can I ask that when I don’t do that for myself?

I’ve come to realize that no outside relationship can be meaningful or successful until I am self-content. I have to spend every day with myself, so I might as well try to like it. However, that’s easier said than done. Society ingrains self-hatred in women from an early age, encouraging us to seek unattainable goals to further profits. We tear each other down because we’ve been told that it’s the best way to build ourselves up. It’s hard to break the habit and fundamentally change how we view ourselves.

For the last few years, I’ve been trying to do just that and have come a long way in accepting who I am.  

I will never be the girl who is confident in every crowd and vivacious enough to find friends anywhere. I can practice easing my shyness, but that doesn’t change that I’m shy. And that’s okay. I never actually grew all the way to 5’9” with a quarter of an inch standing between me and the height on my driver’s license, but if you don’t tell the DMV, then who cares? My height is mine, and changing it would be changing me. Stretch marks mar my skin, but these tiger stripes represent my growth into the woman I am today. I’ve moved around too many times to find comfort in a hometown, but the memories I carry are more “home” than any town could ever be.

This journey to self-acceptance is long, and I still have far to go. Along the way, I will slip up, but I will never stop trying. This Valentine’s Day, I want to applaud the progress I’ve made and the relationship I’ve established with myself. I have the rest of my life to fall in love with me, and I’m determined to do it.

And I challenge you to say what we never say enough: Dear self, I love you.