It’s that time of year again – Valentine’s day.
To start this post on a personal note, I don’t really have any thoughts about Valentine’s day. I agree, it’s a corporate holiday, and that there shouldn’t be just one day of the year where people make an effort for their partner/s. And it’s another example of the prioritisation of romantic relationships over other types of relationship, such as platonic or familial.
But I don’t hate it. When I was single it didn’t bother me, and now I’m in a romantic relationship, it’s okay. We’ve celebrated the past couple years with a nice homemade dinner, but this year is a non-event because my boyfriend is in the middle of exams. And I’m honestly not bothered by that. I’d rather he prioritise his studying!
But I thought I would take the time to have a little think about love, and specifically, loving yourself. This is definitely something that I struggle to do. The way I judge myself is honestly appalling. I would never talk to someone else in the way that I talk to myself. And I think that’s really common, especially for people who have low self esteem/mental health problems, like I do.
At the same time, though, I don’t think that loving yourself should necessarily be tied into romantic love. For example, an idea that REALLY gets me angry is Ru Paul’s quote of: “If you don’t love yourself, how the hell are you going to love somebody else?” First of all, I get what he’s trying to say. Love yourself first. But not being able to do that doesn’t mean you’re incapable of loving other people, or that the moment you discover that you’re a worthy human being, you start loving others in all kinds of different ways.
Secondly, I feel like that quote kind-of trivialises how difficult a journey towards self-love actually is. Loving yourself is fucking hard, especially if you don’t have anyone who will support you. And I know that this is just a sound-bite from a TV show about drag queens, but it reminds me a lot of the stuff that non-disabled people parrot at people with mental and physical disabilities all the time. (If you meditate, your anxiety will go away! Why are you depressed? People all over the world have it much worse than you. Etc.) I just don’t think that this sentiment is helpful, and that there are a lot better ways to go around encouraging people to love themselves.
I’ve come a long way in learning to love myself, and a lot of that is due to the love that other people have shown me. Having people say out loud that they love me, and despite what my brain tells me, I do deserve happiness and good things. So I guess this Valentine’s day I’m going to try and message my friends and family to say that I love them, I’m going to make my boyfriend some dinner to try and ease his exam stress, and I’m going to do something for me, too. Because no, I don’t love myself all the time. But maybe for today I can try to limit the self-judgement and show myself that I am capable of being loved, too.