I once made the mistake of casually complaining to a friend of mine that I was tired of being by myself. She replied by telling me that if I didn’t love myself, I could hardly expect anyone else to come along and love me. I think her intentions were good, or at the very least she didn’t mean me any harm by parroting this bizarre cultural idea at me. In actuality, it sent me into a kind of negative self-loathing spiral where I questioned my worth as a human being. Good times.

Perpetuating the idea that only those people who’re totally at peace and in sync with themselves are worthy of being loved is kind of messed up. Isn’t it? The people who struggle the most probably need to love all the more? Isn’t it kind of gross to blame people’s loneliness on themselves? When my doubtlessly well-meaning friend said this to me, that’s what it felt like. She was basically telling me that I lacked some vital component, that because I wasn’t confident or a shining beacon of mental health, I wasn’t an acceptable person to care about. She was telling me I was so flawed that I’d somehow placed myself outside of the realm of human companionship.

I was in a weird place when I made that complaint and underwent the subsequent sadness spiral, and I’m in a much better state of mind about myself now. You can refer to the first post in this series if you want to read about me indulging my vanity in the name of body positivity. I am starting to be able to like myself now, and that’s nice, but it doesn’t mean that I am suddenly a much better person, or that I have more intrinsic worth, or that suddenly – finally – I am ready for all the potential relationships apparently staved off by my low self-esteem.

Also, I’m still single, so apparently loving yourself is not the key to automatic success in terms of relationships.

Incidentally, being single is pretty okay most of the time, to tell the truth. I’m not going to whine about it. There’s a lot of freedom in the way I live my life and go about my day. I don’t have to intimately consider another person’s needs or desires, so I just get to do my own thing. No arguments about what to eat for dinner or what movie to watch. Sometimes it’d be nice to have someone to bicker with about those things or just someone whose hand I could hold every now and then, but oh well. That’ll either happen or it won’t, and I’m trying not to care either way.

So… I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think the important thing is to love yourself for you, not so that some arbitrary person will come along and do it for you. No matter how you feel about yourself, you still deserve the love of others. No one should be telling you that you have to reach some ridiculous standard of ultimate well-being in order to be valued, because that’s just not fair.