February is the month of love. Historically, it’s a time to show love to others, mainly romantic love. But what many people don't understand is that Valentine's Day should be a day to celebrate our love for everyone: friends, family, and especially, ourselves. Unfortunately, this aspect of love, self-love, is often overlooked and forgotten.
Many people, even those in romantic relationships, feel sad or detached on Valentine’s Day. They struggle to find happiness because they've never been taught how to love themselves. And Valentine’s Day is a harsh reminder of that hidden loneliness.
Growing up in a broken family, I struggled to love myself for most of my life. In my darkest moments, I felt completely alone, broken, and disgusting. I assumed that love is earned, not given, by tending to others' needs, never prioritizing your own. But this is simply not true. Like many of my peers, I tried to cope by denying my feelings of sadness and trying to convince myself that “this” was as good as it gets. I believed I wasn’t worthy of love, but this only made the void bigger and left me feeling more alone.
For years, I tried to change my mindset and find ways to be happy by filling that void with things like sports, art, working out at the gym, and video games.Even with all of that, I was still missing the most important thing: the recognition that self-love is not selfish but is actually essential to our happiness and well-being.
I found that working with a therapist to unpack your trauma is a great way to learn more about yourself and how your environment affects your ability to love yourself. If you don’t have the ability to attend therapy, there are other ways to change your mindset and break that cycle of self-hate.
1. Tell yourself that you are wonderful, worthy, and loved every single day
2. Do things that make you happy
3. When you feel joy, try to stay in those moments as long as you can
4. Don’t forget who you are inside
5. Don’t rely on others to validate your worth
6. Remind yourself that you deserve to feel safe, loved, and supported
Another thing I found helpful is using the app selfsea, a loving digital community where young people are made to feel valued, welcomed, and important. The people on this app have an energy that allows me to be my most authentic self. There’s beauty in taking down those walls and honoring my ‘weirdness’. I love selfsea because it is not just one big group talking about one subject of difficulties, but it has multiple communities of people talking about topics from body image to identity. You get to choose what kind of groups you want to be in, for example a group that talks about mental health, family concerns, etc. Everybody is caring and friendly which makes me feel better about myself. With selfsea on my phone, I never feel alone.
Remember, other people's opinions are not what matters in life. This is often a road block to self-healing for young adults. Being authentic and compassionate are traits that will always outshine external factors and if you can surround yourself with loving, caring people they can help you see your true value and help you find the motivation to continue to grow and shine in your own unique way.
My message to you is to love yourself and embrace your entire being. When you accept yourself, you'll find that you have a whole army of compassionate people waiting to support you on your journey. Life is about being your best self and creating space and safety for others to do the same
“Self-love isn’t a destination, it’s a practice. The practice of life” - Sam Smith