When I was 12, I read “When we love, we look pretty.” And growing older that’s all I knew –to be loved was the ultimate goal and to be pretty was its accomplice. And somewhere in between, I confused the two.
When you’re pretty, you’re loved.
There was nothing outside of romantic love. It was all oblivion. It was a path I never saw and never ventured on. I took the path most travelled and all else was foggy.
I was 12 when I got my first taste of what I thought was heartbreak. I listened to sad songs and wept into my pillow and I wore lots of black eyeliner. And then I looked in the mirror and I deemed myself not worthy of love.
I didn’t learn until later on that love isn’t just romantic love.
Love exists in infinite forms. There is family love and friendship love and unrequited love. Love exists in whole hearts. In a crowd of people dancing to the same song and puppies that are always excited to see you and books that have fallen apart with age and read. Love exists in the smallest crevices of cracked souls. Love exists in heart break and sadness and unforgettable moments.
Love exists everywhere if you look hard enough. It exists in everyone if you look hard enough.
There are times where you’re laying in bed before dawn, wide awake, with crippling thoughts you’ve been hiding in the depths of your mind for so long you can’t begin to recognize where it began – you’re not enough, you’ve lost your worth, you’re painfully, hopelessly, undoubtedly average.
Some days you’re 13 or 26 or 58 and you’re in front of a mirror and you hate what you see. Because all you can do is point out all the things you could change. All you can think of is what would happen if you just lost X amount of weight or gained X amount of muscle or if you grew X amount of inches.
Sometimes you’ll let your days pile up and the sun rises and falls and you have no concept of what day it is or what time it is and your work goes untouched and your responsibilities are neglected. Sometimes you wallow in self-pity and bad thoughts and negative vibes. Sometimes you forget that even when you take a blow to your progress, you still have the capability to pick yourself up.
Every so often, you’re sitting on a couch with him and you’re conscious that in moment that you adore him and he challenges your thinking and he is unimaginably intelligent and charming and hilarious and beautiful. But, most times, you’re shedding uncontrollable tears onto your pillow or you’re staring at your phone wondering why he won’t call back and you’re constantly doubting the love he barely wants to admit to.
And then you see daylight. You are viciously choosing to revolt against self-love. You notice all the ways you put the love for yourself to the side and tear down your progress and forget about all the good things you do for yourself.
There is self-love. A love made for you, by you. A love created with a lifetime of patience and lifetime of understanding and a lifetime of investments. A love conceived within ourselves. A love that can only be validated on your own. A sole love. An independent love.
I’m still learning that the only person who can validate you is the one that stares you back in the mirror.
I’m still learning that one bad day is not a bad life.
I’m still learning that sometimes the idea of love disguises itself as real love.
I’m still learning that unreciprocated feelings do not take away from my value.
I’m still learning that when you learn to love yourself, you are the prettiest you can be.