1. Stop caring about how you look.
Yes, we live in a society obsessed with beauty. There’s no two ways about it. We’re raised to admire beautiful people: successful actors and models with dimpled grins, defined waists, and toned arses. As a result, we inherently associate our perceptions of attractiveness with success and happiness.
If we’re to truly love ourselves, we mustn’t allow the way we look to define our personal value. It can’t be our sole “calling card” for love, sex, or relationships. It can’t be what dictates our worthiness of joy or family or a promotion at work. Think about it: the people who know and love us the most really couldn’t care less about our weight, skin tone, or hairstyle.
So why then do we continue suffering at the manicured hand of some self-imposed criteria for beauty?
If we really want love — the kind that lasts — we must first hold our pride in what we do, not how we look. We must hold it in our ability to write beautiful words, or paint striking paintings, or explore creatively that for which we’re passionate. These are qualities a future date will remember. It won’t be the dress or the shoes or the shade of your lipstick. Trust me. It will be the passion in your voice.
2. Let go.
If we’re to redefine the love in our lives, we must first attempt to reconcile previous experiences of heartache. We tend to carry around the tiny fragments of failed relationships, folded up neatly in our breast pockets. We let them weigh us down; allow their judgement to dictate our confidence, their disappointment to taint our optimism.
Here’s the deal: we’ve all been hurt. We’ve all been let down. We’ve all had that someone who didn’t message back, or stood us up on a date, or treated our hearts like monkey-meat. We’ve all been left feeling exposed and vulnerable and weak, our trust abused and our egos bruised. We can’t resent these feelings, for that would be handing them more power than they deserve. That would be handing them our futures.
We need to forgive. We need to move on. We need to let go.
3. Win yourself over.
You’re an absolute 100% drop-dead catch, so don’t you dare treat yourself otherwise. You might need to occasionally remind yourself, surprise yourself, woo yourself. Bowl yourself over with your thoughtful ways.
I’m talking about buying your favorite tub of ice cream and hiding it in the back of the freezer, only to be rediscovered on a rainy day, when you know that you’ll need it most. Or grabbing yourself that bunch of flowers from the farmer’s market, and realizing that even though they’re temporary, you deserve their color and beauty in your day.
Why not take a weekend class? Learn how to do yoga, or speak french, or play the acoustic guitar. Then write an acoustic song in French, and sing it to yourself in the downward dog.
You can’t rely on future lovers treating you to the specialties of life. Lovers are great, but they’re fundamentally uncertain in a way that your joy shouldn’t be. They’re not to be counted on for something as crucial as personal happiness. They can’t be the source. It has to come from you first.
So do whatever makes you feel good, even — and especially — when you don’t.
4. Don’t compare yourself.
Life’s not a race. Love’s not a race. Stop competing.
Yes, what’s-her-name might be in a longterm relationship and kicking major goals at work, while you’re still single as hell and stuck in a minimum wage job. Who cares? Life has a funny way of evening out in the end, it just takes everyone a different amount of time. Chill.
Remember, she’s is probably looking at your life and wishing she had the same level of independence and freedom. The grass is always greener. It’s important to enjoy your own pasture, safe in the knowledge that it’ll grow and thrive at its own pace.
5. Build strong friendships.
Being in a relationship really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s not going to define who you are, where you go, or what you achieve. You know what will? The people you choose to surround yourself with in day-to-day life. The love and support of beautiful like-minded friends can’t be undervalued. Carrie would’ve been nothing without the company of Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte. Let’s be honest, the audience was never invested in Mr. Big. He was just a cameo.
Men didn’t carry the show — the friendships did.
So build yourself an intelligent, bashful, sharp-witted support cast — and feel content knowing that the show will go on regardless.
6. Get healthy.
This isn’t about the way you look; it’s about the way you feel. Try swapping the rush of wine for the rush of endorphins. Rediscover the beauty of hangover-free Sunday mornings. Sit in the sun, read the newspaper, form educated opinions on politics, drink a green smoothie, take a spin class, stock up on chia seeds and kale and goji berries and free-range eggs.
Let yourself be that annoying, overtly ‘together’ person — the one with the inner glow. Why? Because you deserve it. Really.
7. Travel alone.
There’s nothing quite as empowering as getting completely lost in a foreign country by yourself. You should work hard in a shitty job for six months, not go out on weekends, save what little money you can, and buy yourself a plane ticket to somewhere you’ve never been. Wake up and know that you have nowhere to be, no deadlines to meet, and nobody to see. Turn your phone off. See the local attractions. Walk everywhere. Ask strangers for directions. Try a cocktail you can’t pronounce. Smile for no reason.
Let yourself become totally disconnected from the world as you know it — and realize that time moves on regardless, that you’re okay by yourself.
8. Know what you deserve.
It’s corny, but true: “We only accept the love we think we deserve.” You deserve someone who loves you the next morning, when your hair’s in knots and your mascara’s smudged. You deserve someone who remembers the way you take your coffee, and buys it for you when you’re caught in the sweaty grips of a hangover. You deserve someone who takes the time to learn all your insecurities, and why exactly you have them. You deserve someone who doesn’t judge you for them, someone who loves you regardless — someone who offers up assurance, not through their words, but through their actions. You deserve someone who thinks your arse is the perfect shape, and loves the slight dimple in your thigh, and strokes that stubborn roll of winter-laziness fat — because you have flaws, and so do they.
You deserve someone who makes you feel beautiful, someone who makes you feel special. You deserve to be someone’s first priority.
And in good time, chances are that you’ll find that person.
But for now, that person has to be you.