This time last year, I didn’t even see Valentine’s Day looming overhead as the calendars changed to February. My focus was everywhere else.
I remember stepping into to Target to grab a few items I needed. I was exhausted from battling bronchitis for three weeks straight, physically exhausted from four days of Pure Barre training immediately following my bout with bronchitis, and emotionally drained from a breakup (re: this).
While navigating my way through the aisles to pick up an item, or three, from the beauty section (of course), I momentarily glanced up from the meme I was sending my best friend. Big mistake.
The next thing I knew, I was slammed with Valentine’s Day marketing everywhere I looked. My cheeks flushed, my eyes instantly welled up, and I tried as hard as I could to hold it together. I threw my gigantic Quay sunglasses over my eyes, grabbed the mascara I came for, and got back into the car as soon as possible.
to this day, I think that is the only time I have ever left Target after only buying one thing.
Once I came home and cleaned myself up, I downloaded every app I could think of: Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Coffee Meets Bagel, the works. Over the next week, I flooded my iPhone with matches, swiping during any downtime I had, treating dating like a job with matching intensity that I typically use for finding auditions (the irony of this not lost on any of us).
I matched with a seemingly decent guy who’s first message wasn’t “hey gorgeous” and agreed to meet him for lunch, coincidentally on Valentine’s Day. Surprisingly, this wasn’t weird for either us because to both of us it was just another day. Having a Valentine wasn’t the goal, putting myself back out there in order to put the exhaustive breakup I’d experienced behind me was.
I’m one of those cheesy people who believe that every person you date is there to teach you something, whether you stay with them or not. Regardless how good, bad, or ugly, I have learned something from every relationship.
Number 12 was my Valentine’s Day Date.
He was kind, funny, thoughtful, decisive, and compassionate. He opened the door for me at every opportunity, was attentive and sweet, was a good listener and was always down to be spontaneous. Unfortunately, with little common interests or deep conversation, the initial physical attraction faded quickly. We were not right for each other in the least, yet I am so unbelievably grateful for him.
Number 12, all of our incompatibility aside, restored my faith in the good guy; The one who won’t play games, fall off the face of the Earth, keep me guessing, or put me on a shelf. Through our time together, I learned to love myself enough to accept different behavior than I had accepted in the past. It’s the old saying: When you know better, you do better. He taught me to only accept accountability, and actions that match words. It was a shame that we weren’t more right for each other, but if I hadn’t met him, I would never have felt open enough to meet the other people who have come into my life since him, who helped me to grow and learn and become this person, this better version, this stronger woman.
Now, about self-love…
I have never needed a relationship. I am an only child and I thrive on independence. For almost ten years, I stood by the fact that I didn’t need a husband, to get married, or to even have a serious relationship. I’ve always known I was enough on my own. The truth is, I still am. I’m still independent, I’m still very capable of doing it alone. I don’t necessarily know if I want children, or if my life would be incomplete if I didn’t have any.
I’ve sat and thought about what my life would look like without a husband or a child, and the truth is that I would be okay.
I am completely capable of giving myself a life full of enriching experiences and creative opportunities. I’m a hustler, an adventurous go-getter, and I’m constantly curious about the world around me, about learning more, being more, doing more. I am grateful, capable, I can out-work anyone, and I can talk myself through anything. I can love the crap out of myself, and I can see an incredible path and future that includes me creating some pretty spectacular things.
The other truth is that as humans, we are created to be connected to other humans and even with the greatest group of friends and family imaginable (and I have them), that sense of safety, of unconditional love isn’t the same. The other truth is that I would really love to come home to, or call a person who isn’t my Mom or my best friends; To someone who is ready, willing, and happy to give me a hug when I’m feeling drained or defeated and tell me that we’ll figure it out; To someone who will let me cry it out when I need to and make me laugh until I can’t remember what I was so upset over.
Bigger than all of those truths is that sometimes it’s really hard to practice self-love when, at the moment, you don’t love yourself.
this valentine’s day…
I hope you do something nice for someone. I hope you spend the day celebrating love, that it does exist, and that it exists all around us in different ways. I hope that if you’re struggling or sad, know that you’re also seen. It isn’t easy, and I’m certainly imperfect at all of it, but I do love myself and can figure it out when I don’t.