It's a silly phrase that many people are likely to have heard while being single and possibly heartbroken and/or lonely:
"You won't find love from another until you love yourself."
It might have sounded legit enough at the time, and you don't know what else to do, so you take the "advice." As time goes on, perhaps you have learned to love yourself more, but you get hurt once again. If love doesn't come now, will it ever exist in your life?
I've struggled with negative body perceptions and self-worth just like countless other people, but even before those started to pop up, I've always been a hopeless romantic. I mean, when you grow up watching a bunch of Disney movies that ended on notes of happily ever afters with dashing princes, I'm not sure how else I was supposed to turn out. I dreamed of growing up to meet the love of my life, getting married, moving to the 'burbs, and starting a family behind that white picket fence all while working to be awesome in whatever career I would choose to do.
Once I hit the dating age, I was disappointed to find that I was, in fact, not starring in a rom-com and I had to deal with the associated drama. I would become disheartened as many do, and then I would hear that quote again. It's probably the next best alternative, right?
It was difficult, but I began my journey into the world of body positivity and continued to develop my independence which I had always had. It really started to pick up for me once I got to college; I knew my journey wasn't over, but this was the best I had ever felt about myself since the insecurities first started. Surely my love life would follow suit, right? Spoiler alert: it most definitely did NOT follow suit as time would soon tell.
There I was again: at rock bottom wondering where things went wrong and why I wasn't living my happily ever after. My insecurities were definitely still present, but I loved myself overall. Sure, I have opinions about my appearance that come and go, but I knew who I was deep down as a person, and I was pleased with what I found. So why did things turn out the way they did and why did I have to endure all that pain and stress even after taking the "advice?"
Here's the thing about life that you probably already know: it really sucks. It's full of lows and highs that vary constantly; there is no linear timeline because it's full of obstacles, success, and then more obstacles. No matter how you feel about yourself, these things are still going to happen. However, if there's one constant fact in your life, it's this: you deserve to be loved.
I know it's the primary focus of the quote, but I'm talking about more than just romantic love now. Yes, you deserve to be swept off your feet if that's what you desire, but you also deserve family and friends who love and care for you in different ways.
We build these relationships with each other because we desire companionship. We want to talk, laugh, cry, hold, and feel together. We care about the wellbeing of these people, and they care about our wellbeing. However, we're also humans who are not always going to be on top of the game.
You deserve to be loved at rock bottom. You deserve to be loved in the "meh" zone. You deserve to be loved at the tippy top. The people we care about will be there for you no matter how you feel, and you'll be there for them too.
The road to positive self-esteem is a long, treacherous journey, but also a necessary one. If you blindly follow the quote's advice and hold off on external love until you believe you've reached your destination, you'll never find it because no one will ever reach that point (unless you're some sort of superhuman; let's get coffee sometime to discuss your findings).
I'm proud of who I've become and how hard I've worked to get here. I'm so incredibly grateful for my support system who was there every step of the way even when all was bleak. I don't need romantic love for my life to be complete, but that doesn't mean I don't want it. When it finds me, I'll be here still striving for the best I can be, warts and all.