No Love Lost: Gaining Self-Love Through Personal Experience
In honor of February, the month of love, we asked members of our Springtide Ambassadors Program (SAP) to share how they’ve made personal strides toward greater self-love or self-care. For a few SAP members, personal experiences pushed them toward self-love. Below, SAP members Ben, Connie, and Lupita explain how life events—both joyous challenging ones—led them to discover what self-love really means.
Quarantine came with distancing myself from the world. The sudden change from being around friends to only seeing them through a screen was different. While being confined at home, I came to a better understanding of myself, and with that isolation came a development of love. In my years prior, activities took me away from dwelling on myself. Watching the current state of the world change led me to analyze myself and come to a realization: I didn’t really have love for myself, and it had deeply affected my effort toward my beloved activities. I was lagging behind in sports and school, and this took a toll on me. Realizing this, I set aside time for myself, and my self-love was heightened. I started to perform better in my activities, which has allowed me to mature as a person. Nowadays, my self-love is far improved, and it’s helped me through the stresses of high school. I’ve been able to balance a life between academics and sports and not have one side outweigh the other.
It was a Friday morning in cloudy Dublin as I finished packing my carry-on for my weekend trip to London. I was studying abroad in Spring 2022 and was ecstatic about my first trip to England. Throughout my study abroad experience and my travels, I saw how my patterns of self-love and appreciation took shape. For example, I loved my week when I had plans to look forward to or was able to excitedly anticipate a specific day. I realized that I showed self-love only on special occasions or waited to do things that made me happy for a day when life wasn’t “hard” anymore.
Throughout my time in Europe, I learned that self-care is not a routine that I need to schedule for a specific day of the week. Self-care is a daily practice that becomes a habit. We only get this body, brain, and chance at life ONCE—so why are we not taking care of the one thing that will keep us going? As I prepared for my trip back to the US, I realized I wanted to live a life where I was just as excited about the next day regardless of whether I was doing something fun. Creating a lifestyle where I look forward to each day is my form of self-care: to learn about myself and the things that make me happy, and to care for myself as I would care for a close friend.
Some of the habits I’ve curated are:
- to do the hard things now for the future me
- to reward myself every day through affirmations or a small treat
- to give myself time in the morning to get ready and space at night to wonder
One new practice I am implementing is to be ok if my day wasn’t “productive.” It is ok if I did nothing and laid down to rest. It is ok if all I did was relax. I show self-care by living a slower life, doing things in the now that fill my cup, and caring for myself so [well] that 6-year-old Connie would be proud.
It is something we all desire, yet it is so complex.
In February, we mainly think of romantic love. When I was young, my mother told me that marriage was just a contract. Can there be genuine love? Yes. Does that love fade? Unfortunately, in some instances, yes it does. The following year my parents got divorced and I realized that the loss of a relationship does not always have to be negative. You cannot rely on a relationship to be happy.
Despite romantic love being portrayed the most in the media this time of year, I would argue it is not the most important or impactful form of love. The truth is that too often we look for love in others because we lack it in ourselves. To feel love—true and genuine love—you have to first learn to give it to yourself. People come and go, but the one person who will never leave your side is yourself. If you cannot experience that love for yourself, then you can never be truly fulfilled in relationships. Self-love is not an easy journey, but it isn’t impossible.
I sound like I’m knowledgeable on this topic, but I truly am not. I’m just a 17-year-old girl who learned that love is not something I have to fight for to receive. This revelation did not come easily to me. It took years of being tirelessly pushed around and stepped on by my peers to realize I never had to rely on them to prove I was worthy of being loved. I can say from personal experience that validation can be so rewarding. However, pinning your whole worth on the validation and approval of others is not only damaging to yourself, but it puts too much pressure on other people to fulfill the pedestal you put them on. Love starts from within. Take a look in the mirror. Allow yourself to see the things that others do not have the privilege to see, because you, yes you, are so incredibly special. You deserve to see every ounce of your being through a lens of love. You are so worthy and loved, and it shouldn’t take me writing to you for you to see that. It is for that reason that for the month of February, and every month following, we should focus on reinventing our perception of love. Prioritize yourself and see the good that comes from self-love and self-appreciation. Trust me, through this shift, you will learn not only to love but, most of all, to live.