Last year, the first year I’d been in a committed relationship since god knows when, I willingly opted out of Valentine’s Day celebrations and went for more of a “create love” mentality. My boyfriend’s inner voice rejoiced, as he thus brought home a simple box of Reese’s candy hearts and we ate takeout while binge-watching Netflix. But, as V-Day approaches yet again, on a Friday no less, my tune has changed.
I want the romance, whatever definition that means in my relationship. A man led more by logic than emotions, my boyfriend innocently sent out an official Google calendar invite for February 14 to prove his actions would be chivalrous. We’re not all living in a Garry Marshall film.
My own request had me thinking, why did I change my mind this year? By no means is my relationship starved for resuscitation or grand declarations of love, so why am I craving the traditional Valentine’s celebrations?
The answer? Self-love. Wanting to acknowledge self-love with a partner may sound contradictory, but it’s about celebrating all that I am with someone who, on a daily basis, brings out the better parts within me.
I polled the internet for others’ definition of self-love: “Never allowing anyone to bring you down.” “Taking the time to do something that brings you happiness.” “Unconditional love of self. Awareness of your own divinity.” “Asserting how I want to spend my free time.” “Accepting, and owning all parts of you, even the parts you don’t like, for no comprehensible reason other than that it’s a part of you. Saying no to things that don’t serve you for your benefit. Letting go of unhealthy habits, relationships, friendships. Knowing that you are worth it and deserving of all the good things.” “Knowing who and what you are and not letting anyone change the good in you.”
The way each of us defines or celebrates the love within ourselves varies, but it all comes down to a very simple thing. It’s about us. Our internal creations eventually make external appearances. Fictional character Basil Hallward said it best in Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” “Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.” We each are the artist of our own portrait and the world is our sitter. How we choose to paint our lives reflects in our conscious decisions that are coming from within. And, unless we’re Dorian Gray, we can’t hide from ourselves.
Lately, I’ve taken up mindless wandering as a hobby. I carry a notebook, head out the door, and aimlessly walk around observing buildings and people. I listen to whatever squawks above as my feet carry me in random patterns. As my feet wander, my mind does too, and I realize that I’m smiling at everyone around me (although not everyone smiles back). The love within myself is so great, by some miracle of self-improvement, that it shows on the outside. I’ve accepted my flaws, my battles, my hurdles, and my choices.
Self-love made me understand that I can change my mind and ask for anything, including romance. But I had to first look inward before I could ask for what I wanted outwardly.