As Carrie Bradshaw eloquently put, “Don’t forget to fall in love with yourself first.” Single students might often see couples around campus and hear love songs on the radio, and wonder why they cannot find that significant other for themselves. Society has time and again reinforced the notion that, in order to be complete as individuals, we must be accompanied by someone else. However, instead of spending our time consumed with the worry of finding that person this Valentine’s Day, we should first learn to love ourselves and ensure that we are putting what we love first. The most important thing to remember is that you cannot fully love someone else until you truly love yourself.
We have transformed love into an object that must be attained – the idea that our whole life is an ongoing scavenger hunt to reach the goal of finding that one right person.
There is nothing inherently wrong with trying to find love. The problem is that we become so preoccupied with the search that, in the midst of trying to find it, we forget about ourselves.
We have been programmed to believe our worth is quantified by who we date, how many people we have dated, and how attractive we come across to others. We forget that our value cannot be found in another person, but rather, in who we are as individuals.
We spend so much time swiping left and right, looking for attention at the bar, and attempting to get noticed by an attractive person in a lecture that we don’t invest nearly enough time into ourselves.
How can we become more in tune with ourselves?
Explore: Explore your interests and meet new people by checking out clubs, joining an intramural team, volunteering with an organization, or even striking up a conversation with someone at the gym! The more you try new things, the more you will discover your likes and dislikes. If you do what you love and pursue your own interests, you’ll meet people who share the same passions as you, accept you, and you’ll feel a sense of belonging to a greater community. Ultimately, when you learn about yourself and pay attention to your needs, you’ll gain and cultivate the most fruitful of relationships.
Reflect: It is very beneficial to spend time alone; this time for reflection is crucial for self-development. Whether it is writing in a journal, spending time on your own, or pursuing a personal goal of yours, spending time away from others isn’t being antisocial or an introvert, it’s re-connecting with yourself. You can use this time to reflect upon where you are in your friendships, family, and school life. If you don’t feel accomplished in any of these areas, try to think about what you can do to improve your life and the lives of the people around you.
Engage: We often walk so hurriedly down the street to class, swerving in and around other students, that we don’t see the wonderful people we come in contact with each and every day. We assume that, since they aren’t constants in our lives, there is no need to acknowledge them. What if you took a step – even just a baby step – out of your comfort zone? Next time you’re walking to your next class, make eye contact with another student and smile! Ask them how their day is going! Be bold! Although the mere thought of interacting with a stranger stirs anxiety in many, the friendships you will open yourself up to by putting yourself out there is extraordinary. There are many opportunities to take in the beautiful city that we call home.
Disengage: How many hours do you spend aimlessly scrolling through Facebook, only to close it and find yourself updating your Snapchat and Instagram, all while trying to sort out a social dilemma on Messenger? Sometimes, the best way to connect with others is by disconnecting from social media. We feel the need to live our lives through a lens – we make sure Saturday night’s concert was filmed, we spend the whole party taking pictures with our friends, and we snap a picture of every restaurant meal we’ve ever eaten and post it online.
What if we rejected the notion of trying to document the entirety of our lives on social media and instead enjoyed the moment sans camera. Close your Facebook, delete your Tinder (a seemingly horrifying prospect), and enjoy life away from technology. In return, life will grant you the opportunity to meet, socialize with, and, most importantly, enjoy the moment with like-minded people.
As February 14th approaches, stores put up romantic window displays, and chocolates are wrapped in pink ribbons, we may easily forget one of the most fundamental relationships – our relationship with ourselves. We go out of our way to compliment others, yet are first to criticize ourselves. This Valentines Day, show yourself a little love for a change.