This has been one of the hardest things for me to learn and come to terms with. I was never the person who needed constant attention or gratification, at least I thought so. In reality I had gone from relationship to relationship at a young age seeking just those things in every person I invested in. Finally, being out of a long term relationship I truly felt what it meant to be "alone". But I really wasn't. And that is exactly what I struggled with discerning. The difference between being alone and being at peace with myself.
When you are reliant on others for happiness and fulfillment you essentially give up a piece of yourself for them. This is a dangerous lifestyle because you are living with a void that you are letting others fill instead of trying to love your whole self with all of your pieces, no matter how jagged or broken they be. In theory we as humans are a giant puzzle made of many pieces. You can think of the pieces as emotions, feelings, or things.
I spent years giving my happiness to others. So all that I taught myself was that I need other people in my life in order to be happy. That it was physically impossible for me to be happy on my own. I do not resent myself for that, I am grateful that I can now look back on that part of my life and recognize the emotional and physical progress I have made.
After my last relationship had ended I felt entirely empty. The person I had given my happiness to for 3 years was no longer there to spend every minute, hour, weekend, conversation, memory, and picture with. I truly felt the meaning of being alone. This sent me into a downward spiral now searching for anyone I could find to fill my void. To give me my "happy" back. This included people who were totally unhealthy for me and brought me further into a depression.
It wasn't until my anxiety and depression were at an all time high and I began going to therapy did I realize what I was doing wrong. By being emotionally and mentally dependant on other people for happiness and satisfaction, I was ruining any ounce of love I had for myself. I was searching for other people to love me in order to be happy but all I had to do was learn to love myself.
Loving yourself isn't about needing to be in the best shape of your life or traveling the world or buying designer bags and clothes to flaunt on social media. That is temporary happiness. Loving yourself is about spending every single day doing something that makes you happy and that makes you feel like you are worthy and deserving of love, because you are.
It does not mean you need to be surrounded by others every day and publish all of your "friends" all over your social media so others know your loved. Self love isn't a facade, it's a raw essential emotion. It is about being able to sit in a room alone with your thoughts feelings and soul and be entirely content. It is about being able to go without your phone for hours because you're too busy focused on yourself, and NO that is not being selfish. It is making you and your mental and emotional health a priority, and you should be.
In the end, I realized I am never truly alone. Not only do I have an incredible loving family and the most genuine supportive friends, I have ME. And if I don't say so myself, I think I can be pretty freakin awesome. Call me pompous, call me narsissistic, but baby I just call that self love.
So the next time you're standing in an empty room with tears rolling down your face feeling alone, look in the mirror and remember you were brought into this world with one pretty amazing person on your side, YOU.