At 25, I thought I was ready to get more serious with my boyfriend, and made the big move out of my parent’s house and into a downtown apartment to be closer to him. This step was nerve-wracking, but I was also excited to become more independent, and take the next step in my relationship. Well, not even two months after the move, my boyfriend and I broke up.
It came at a time when I was working at a busy job, going to school part-time, and now adjusting to being completely on my own, night after night. For the first few months after the break-up, I was quite depressed and found it difficult to enjoy my new surroundings. I was grateful that my graduate program kept my mind busy, but it didn’t change the fact that I was having a tough time sleeping at night and watching a lot of re-runs of ‘Friends’ to keep me company while I cooked dinner. I had always enjoyed doing things on my own, but for the first half of 2011, I found it difficult to feel truly happy with myself.
Toward the end of the summer though, something changed. One night, while I was working late on a paper, I said to myself, “You know what, Deanna? Misery sure loves company and you might as well make the best of yours.” BOOM! All of a sudden, I realized that if I was going to get through this course, get some quality sleep at night, and stop complaining about my work and lack of a love life, I needed to be my own personal cheerleader, soothsayer and best friend. In short, I needed to love my own company.
I realized that not only was my depressed mood affecting my friends, family and colleagues, it was affecting my relationship with myself. I’d always been a happy, optimistic person with lots of friends, hobbies and interests. As an extrovert, I love being in the company of others, but with the individual activities of writing and piano-playing among my hobbies, I enjoy being on my own too.
I don’t know what prompted me to say “misery loves company” to myself that evening, but it inspired the first of many songs that I have since written about love, life and everything in between. Singing and piano-playing have always been my creative outlets, but writing lyrics about my own experiences and setting them to music gave me the satisfaction and confidence that I’d been missing for some time.
This satisfaction and confidence also helped me to finally feel comfortable entering the dating world again, almost ten months after my break-up. Although I have been in a few relationships since then, I am still (like many young adults these days!) looking for the right guy to be my husband and partner for life. I’ll admit that I’m a little picky, but one thing that I can’t be picky about is finding someone who enjoys life, is secure with who he is, and well…loves himself.
There are many different ways that people come to love themselves and my story is just one example. In fact, if you Google “how to love yourself,” you’ll find over 200 million results, from personal testimonies to self-help guides by everybody from Oprah to bloggers for The Huffington Post. Small things like listening to your feelings, taking care of your body, finding a creative outlet, and creating a healthy work-life balance are all ways to care for and respect yourself.
I know that I could not have gotten into a relationship again if I didn’t enjoy the one that I had with myself first. Why would somebody want to date me if I didn’t think that I was fun to be with? And it’s more than just being fun: it’s about having the same respect for me as an individual that I would for anybody else. Relationships are tough and sometimes the experience of being in one can make you completely forget about your own needs and desires. But if you enter a relationship already knowing how to have a good one with yourself, you’ll be able to bring out the best in each other and enjoy the wonderful gifts of true partnership and true love.