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The Love Within

February is when we celebrate love for our significant others—gifting each other chocolate and sweets and cherishing the relationship.

Though, for us single, alone, or without anyone to be with, this could feel degrading. This causes shame to those who don't have that cute relationship or group of friends to celebrate it with.

It is difficult to keep yourself afloat as a single person during a time dedicated to cherishing your loved ones.

However, there is one person you already love. Yourself.

It’s a cliche for me to tell you to accept who you are. But, it’s more than that. You must give yourself appreciation and permission to enjoy what you are doing. Love is universal. It doesn’t have to mean being in a relationship.

My Self-Love Routine

As one of the singles mentioned earlier with no one to celebrate the holiday with, I wanted to look inward—find the things that make me happy and what I love doing.

For starters, I enjoy going out on walks. What I like about walking is that I get to observe nature breezing through me and the scuffling leaves falling on the pavement. Seeing the lush grass at my park and being one with Earth has knocked out many worries in the present moment. It’s not just a break from your everyday routine; think of it as a commute somewhere out of your busy life. I let myself intertwine with the gentle nature.

I love listening to quiet and serene music, mostly lo-fi playlists and piano instrumentals. Normally, I would go out to the park and jog for a mile, but I also want to reflect. I internally talk to myself about how far I am and acknowledge the journey I went through for a long time. I have ups and downs, but here I am, physically and mentally feeling the comfort of the wind and the beautiful view of the area I live in. It’s not as pretty as it is, but I get to appreciate where I am. It’s nice to take a step back and stop at the moment.

I sometimes like playing this mobile app called Pikmin Bloom where I walk around different areas planting flowers with small creatures called Pikmin. They’re cute to walk along with!

I got into writing as a hobby. I am writing my first big, emotional story for myself, and it’s fun fleshing out my characters and their development. I first started writing when I was in my sophomore year in college. It’s become my routine where after school, on my days off, and in my free time, I will grab my notebook and write down my ideas, arrange the plot, develop my character's insight, and show the main theme that everyone is not alone. I don’t expect it to go viral, but it has always been a reminder for me to stay strong in the toughest of times, empowering myself. I am a worthy person who deserves a lot of love no matter what the world has brought down upon me.

Throughout the school semester, I wanted to try going to a cafe to do my work. I brought my backpack with me and walked inside this small cafe shop. There were couch cushions on each corner and a big window that beams sunlight on my table. I ordered myself a salmon sandwich, a pumpkin pop-tart, and a latte. The whole day I stayed until they closed and was able to get my work done, gather ideas, and even play my Nintendo Switch. Something about the place radiates this Lofi-energy around me, and I felt so transported and calmed. It was my safe place.

I also like exercising. Well, I don’t exercise as often, but I do moderate exercises throughout the week. I will always wake up first thing in the morning to stretch and jog around my neighborhood. Once I get back, I do some light work such as push-ups, stretching, and aerobic conditioning. It builds my confidence and self-esteem the more I keep doing them. It has helped me continue being the best version of myself.

Occasionally, I go to the gym late at night so there aren’t a lot of people inside. I work on arm and leg muscles, then cardio. Listening to hype music while I exhale the heaviest struggles, and lifting weights pumps me up tremendously.

Playing games is fun too! It is sometimes viewed as a negative hobby because you are indoors staring at a screen for long periods, but if it makes you happy it is worth your time. I enjoy immersing myself in story-rich games. It entertains me and provides me with an understanding of the character’s motivations. I also enjoy classic arcade games such as Pac-Man and Galaga. Games are meant to be enjoyed.

It’s simple really. If you like reading books, listening to music, and going out, by all means, please do them! It is important to enjoy all the things you love doing. It shows who you are and how you find meaning in them.

However, people who have a lot of expectations for themselves may not find that level of enjoyment.

The Heavy Burden

No matter how much you love what you do and try to keep your mind occupied, the thought still lingers in your mind. No matter how much you enjoy work or hobbies, it does not change the fact that you feel lonely. The most distressing feeling is the sense of unworthiness that prevents you from accepting love, even from yourself.

In this day and age, there are a lot of expectations that set up a high bar for you to reach. You feel pressured to become and follow this said group of people to be happy. What constitutes happiness if you have to follow the crowd? Why can’t we enjoy what we love doing and not have it amount to the same love for someone else?

I associate self-love strangely which has begun to devalue what I do in life. I don’t want to be left behind; otherwise, I deviate from what is supposed to be right. We need someone to love or a group of people to be with. The pedestal presented of trying to live up to those standards is grueling. That’s where expectations for ourselves feel more like a heavy burden.

I struggle with this a lot. I grew up without the supportive friend group that I saw others have. I felt cast out because I don’t associate with others. You would see in social media posts that people you know have a significant other and friends to be with, and they are the perfect view of what “love” is. To love others and appreciate their relationships.

To people who don’t have that, what are we then?

Is it someone not worthy of being loved? Someone who doesn’t deserve love? Someone who was never meant to be loved in the first place?

No. That’s not what love is supposed to be. It’s not about singling out people who don’t have that compassion and someone to be with. Love shouldn’t be a competition or race to have that special someone.

Love is about appreciating every single aspect you have. The reason you are living.

The reason why an individual is worth loving is because they are happy with who they are.

Forget all the sappy love drama you see in others. That does not reflect badly on who you are. Being single, alone, or with no one to be with should never label you as horrible or unloved.

And it doesn’t have to match what people are doing. Happiness and love are not a step-by-step journey. You can go out and have fun with yourself and love what you are doing.

That love you see with someone is the same with yourself. It’s not viewed badly. It is not a disgrace. It’s not weak. It is not dumb. It is not wrong. That’s love. 

Finding the Love Within

You are not alone. Out of the big filter of compassion thrown across from social media and the peers you see, what lies behind that are other people who enjoy what they like to do for fun.

Because of this big filter, we cling to the things we love to do because it’s what we can.

To remind ourselves that in the grand scheme of things, you need to allow yourself to have fun. Be happy. Rest. It’s enough to prove how much value you have within.

You’re not supposed to follow the rules to the slightest detail to prove your life is meaningful. Finding your worth is returning to who you once were. The same person who values enjoying the things you love doing.

Give yourself a rest. You deserve it. Do anything that makes you happy. You deserve a break for this long. You have the love within.

About The Author

Daniel Santiago is a blogger for the Love Yourself Foundation. He enjoys writing, playing games, and exercising. His favorite activity is going out for walks and listening to Lo-fi and serene music. A professional at being an introvert, he strives to find his place in the world and remind everyone they are not alone.

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