A month and a half ago, I was on a plane flying halfway across the country to move back to my hometown in St. Louis, Missouri, after a five-month stretch on the West Coast. At the time, the plane ride felt very lonely, and I felt very lost. A lot of things were changing in my life and as an extreme extrovert, loneliness and loss were emotions I spent most of my time avoiding.
But now, looking back, my discomfort of my quickly changing reality was a turning point in my life. It has taken me 22 years, 100 lectures from my mom, and one long day of traveling alone to learn one of the most valuable life lessons. Love yourself first.
My friends and family have often told me that I put so much of my energy, effort and identity into my relationships with others. This is a good thing, but I also have realized that if not properly ordered in my life, it can become a fault. When asked the ways I love myself, I stuttered through finding a response until I finally admitted, “I just don’t know.”
So during that plane ride, that long uncomfortable plane ride back to my hometown with no job or plan waiting for me, I began the journey to learn how to love myself.
I will be the first to admit that I don’t have it all figured out, but thus far I have found three ways to love myself more.
- Spend time alone. Spending time alone was something that was almost unbearable to me before, but now is slowly becoming comfortable and rewarding. I can honestly say that I enjoy spending time in my bedroom, thinking about my future, planning out my dreams, and painting a picture of the life I anxiously await and know that I deserve.
- Say No. This may sound funny and a bit negative at first, but “no” was simply not in my vocabulary. I found myself committing myself to too many people, attempting to do any favor I possibly could and spreading myself far too thin. I was left seemingly satisfied but emotionally exhausted. Sometimes, saying “no” in order to take time with yourself is OKAY. So, do it. Say “no” once in a while.
- Spoil yourself a little. Find your escape, your guilty pleasure or your daily treat and make it a habit. Wake up and go on a short run. If your bank account allows, fit a quick manicure in. My happiest days are ones that I spent just a little more time on self-care.
This last month of genuinely loving myself and putting my heart first has turned out to be one of the best of my life. At the end of the day, when my head hits the pillow, it feels just a little bit more aligned with my heart.
And you know, the funniest thing about learning to love myself is that I have actually learned how to love other people better. I have found that when I am okay with myself I am a more empathetic and compassionate lover and friend. You can’t give what you don’t have. So, try loving yourself first.