As we close off the month of valentines, chocolates, and love, I only find it fitting to reflect on a type of love that we don’t focus on enough: self-love. When I think about self-love, I think about how I’ve treated myself in the past and present. I keep thinking about what-ifs. What if I had loved myself more? And I keep coming back to a scene in a movie I adore.
This past Christmas, I was gifted a DVD of “Howl’s Moving Castle” and ever since then, I’ve been watching it nonstop. While I am a fan of all things Studio Ghibli, this particular story has a special place in my heart. It’s a love story between a wizard, Howl, who has no heart, and an ordinary girl, Sophie, who is cursed by a witch jealous of her beauty.
There is a pivotal scene in the movie where Sophie travels in time to witness a young Howl swallow a shooting star — the reason he has no heart. She is then pulled back to the present time and while that is happening she yells out to him, “I know how to help you now. Find me in the future!”
While watching, I think about how after hearing that he goes on to live his life trying to find her. And I wonder what I would do if I had the chance to travel back in time and talk to my younger self. What would I say to her? It goes something like this…
I’d probably find her sitting by herself. Most likely in the room we grew up in, crying.
And I’d say that,
I’m sorry about the immense amount of pressure that was put on you and how I let you carry it all without ever setting it down, not even for a second. I’m sorry I let you stay sad for so long before we got help. And I’m really sorry you felt like even if you gave everything you possibly could, it would never be enough. That’s not true and it never was; you get to just exist and that is simply something worth celebrating.
I’d tell her,
You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.
And that every expectation that people have of you, doesn’t have to be your reality. You’re allowed to have dreams, too. You get to decide what you want even if it isn’t what you had planned or what other people wanted. You don’t owe anyone anything. This life is yours and you get to take it back.
I’d suggest that,
You could be nicer.
Especially to yourself. I don’t think it’s smart that we compare ourself to the other girls. We’re better than that. We’re never gonna look like them but that’s okay because they’re never gonna get to look like us. We learn to love our dark curly hair, our big doe eyes, the bump on our nose and our body. I think you should be nicer to our body because it carried us through some really dark moments. The sadness and anger we carry in our heart weighs us down; it’s not worth keeping. Our body has kept us alive, healthy and for the most part, happy.
I’d stretch my arm out to help her up on her feet. And I know she’d ask if we’ve ever been in love the way we’ve dreamed about and I’d laugh and tell her not yet. I’d let her know that people will show up and show interest in you, but eventually they’ll move on, and so will you. It’s never serious and that doesn’t make it any less lonely. But it also means you learn a lot about who you are and who you want to be, and who you want to share that with. And I’d tell her that we don’t settle for anything less than we deserve because we deserve the world and someone who’d be willing to give us just that.
Finally, I’d tell her that I’m proud of her, to keep writing her little stories, that I love her and that I hope she finds me in the future.