We've all heard it before. "You have to love yourself before anyone else can." Free of damage, issues, hesitations -- free of anything that makes you difficult, so you can finally succeed at love.
Loving yourself is not the pursuit of self-perfection.
It isn't pushing to erase every flaw, polish every smudge and round every corner to present yourself as a shiny token ready to be stuffed in the pocket of someone who thinks they deserve you. It isn't pulling trust out of a hat or ticking off a personal list of critiques, so no one ever has a reason to leave you.
It isn't running yourself through the washing machine to be hung on the line, waving at each passerby to show them just how clean you are. Just how ready you are to be worn.
Loving yourself is not pretending you can be perfect to make someone else comfortable with loving you.
It is understanding that your life is not valued by the presence of someone else.
Loving yourself is learning how to love life when you're making all the decisions. Realizing the world is a garden for you to flourish in, and not just a place to water someone else's seeds. It is the ability to hold yourself up, to know your flaws and appreciate your strengths, to find confidence and serenity in independence.
It is understanding that love is not ownership, trust is not dependence, and intimacy is not entitled.
Loving yourself is coming to terms with the fact that you aren't for everyone, and every person isn't going to be forever. It is being confident enough to know that you will be fine either way.
It is knowing that you will be just fine because your ability to survive and be happy depends on you.
But most importantly, it is understanding that knowing this does not make you love any less.
It is understanding that just because your world can no longer be pushed into revolving around someone else doesn't mean someone can't lift it up with you. Loving yourself does not mean that you can't experience the whirlwind of exhilaration that is falling in love, or that you can't be someone's person.
You do not have to choose between loving yourself and loving someone else. It isn't an either/or option.
Loving yourself is having the confidence to be in love and still know you have the ability to be happy on your own. It is knowing that this life is yours, and you choose who, how, and when you love in it.
Loving yourself is knowing you are worth it, not because of your perfection, but because of your ability to see the flaws and recognize their place.
So, no writing off love because you think self-love and independence mean noble isolation. But take the time to see that same self-love and independence are what will give you the peace to be happy on your own, and when love comes -- you'll be ready.