Self-love. We could all agree that loving yourself is important. But what does that mean exactly? What does it take to really, truly love who you are?
For most people, especially girls, the deep yearning to “discover yourself” begins sometime in high school. That age where you’re maturing in every way, and you feel the need to fit in somewhere. That’s a normal thing. For me, it hit me hard my junior and senior year of high school. I felt lost, and hopeless when it came to who I was and where I fit into the world.
At the time, I was in a relationship, and boy was it a turbulent one. Not all bad, not all good. The main problem was that we both were too immature for a mature relationship, which is what we were trying to have. Miscommunications and jealousy filled the time, and although there were plenty of happy times, at this point the negatives began to outway the positives. I was confused in all aspects of my life. My love life, my career (what was I going to do); I didn’t even know where I was going to college until the May of graduation. Needless to say, I was having an identity crisis.
I wanted to move away for school, but my relationship was testing that and putting pressure on me to stay. I didn’t want to give up on someone I loved, but I also didn’t believe I should have to sacrifice my own desires in order to keep them. Eventually the decision was made, I was single. I won’t get into the details, but I will say that it was in the end for the best.
I chose my school. I was moving to Columbia, MO, to attend Mizzou. Excited was an understatement. I began planning things, but it was late in the process, and I couldn’t get a dorm. I made arrangements to live in a townhouse, but it was further from campus than I thought I wanted to be. I had three other roommates, one of which I knew from high school. Balancing school and a social life was a lot more challenging alone in a new place, but it was going well. Friends from home came to visit, and I made time for weekends when I could go home too.
After first semester, I was alone in our home. All my roommates had moved out along the way. I was in a sorority, but being off campus was beginning to cause distance between me and my friends. I learned a lot about being a good friend from the times when I was far from having my own. I was alone 90% of the time except for the times I was in class. Looking back, I know I should have tried to be more involved in things, but that’s not how I am generally. I don’t push my way into things when it comes to making new friends, but I’ve been doing better with that over time.
During all this time to myself, I got a chance to do things I had never really had time to do before. I spent my time learning about my dreams, interests, what I wanted in life, and I saw who was my real friend and who was just a friend to my face. I learned so much from being single, including what I wanted/didn’t want in relationships. I spent 9 months alone in a city away from home. Sure, I had friends to hang out with on rare occasions and things to do when I wanted to, but I really utilized the time I had by spending time on myself.
During this period of isolation, I realized how important it is to share things with other people. How important it is to me to have friends to talk to, even if it might just be about something small. I realized how much I value the close relationship I have with my mom, and how while I didn’t necessarily need anyone, life was so much better shared.
Because of the time I spent learning myself, I know that you don’t have to try that hard to know who you are. You naturally are drawn to the things you love, but you have to give yourself a chance to explore. You can’t do this while in a relationship. Being single does a lot for you, in more ways than one. You know what it’s like to stand on your own two feet. That sounds like such a simple thing, but it isn’t as easy as it seems like it should be. You can see things without having clouded judgement. You learn what a relationship should be. You learn what you’re good at, and where you need to improve.
I saw how unhappy certain things were making me, and I made a choice to follow my heart. I’m still following my dreams today, and although it’s a process that may never end, it’s fulfilling to know that I’m doing what makes me happy. I know what I want. I know where I want to be. I know who is important to me, and who is just there for part of the journey. I know what I’m looking for, and I’m not afraid to go after it. I’m surrounded by people I love, and by people who love me, but I never forget to take a break from life and spend a few moments alone to remember who I am.
Personally, I could not have gotten to this point without that time I had to myself. I am so much stronger, even though I never thought I was weak. I’ve seen the worst in myself along with the best, and that is why I believe in time spent to yourself.