Sometimes things just don't work out. It's not because there is something wrong with me. It's not because there is something wrong with him.
And it's not because I need to love myself more.
There's this thing we tell single women in this society that in order to find love you must love yourself too. Phrases like "making space for yourself" and "doing the work on you" and "being with you first" and all other kinds of hokey, semi-spiritual banter permeates our Instagram feeds as if to say "THE ANSWER IS HERE, STUPID. You're totally doing it wrong! Just love yourself more, and then you'll find life's true reward – a man!"
While I'm sure these posts and messages are put into the world with good intentions, I want to point out the controlling, patriarchal message underneath the message: the goal of life is to find romantic love.
Yes, I am a fan of companionship. Yes, I like the idea of a life partner and would one day like to have one. Yes, I love love! I love it! But no, I do not believe that I was put on this earth to have my greatest accomplishment be someone's someone. Maybe I'm the only one who feels this way, or maybe I'm just the only one who wants to say it, but I reject the notion that because I am female finding someone to love me should be my greatest goal. This is a dangerous and damaging twist unnecessarily put on something that is pure, organic and unpredictable. Not to mention, it makes single women who haven't found love feel like shit. Point blank.
Telling single women to "love yourself and then you'll find 'the one'" only perpetuates the guilt-cesspool that society loves us to fester in. Our culture sends enough messages to women that say "in order to be/do/have X, it's on YOU to be/do/have Y." Have an upset stomach? You should be taking a probiotic. Want to appear beautiful? Fill in your eyebrows (PS, WTF is this??). Haven't found the right career path yet? Quit looking for it. Or look for it harder. Or be more patient. Or quit your job and move to the mountains and "soul search" for six months! Eat Pray Love, baby!
This equation of "you + self-love = true love's arrival = life's goal completed + life worth established" is flawed. Majorly. Because guess what?
I love myself.
I do. Like a lot. I love how funny I am and I love how smart I am and I love what I've accomplished so far and I love the direction I'm taking my career and I love my family and my friends and I even fucking love that somedays I don't feel like I love or like anything. I love that I can get grumpy and I love that I'm pretty cynical and I love that I'm always thinking about food and I really fucking love that I think I'm really different and special.
Don't get me wrong – there was a time in my life when I did not love all those things, and I am damn sure that there will be a time in the future when I won't either – but guess what? THAT'S LIFE. Some days I think I'm amazing and some days I can't believe I'm almost 30 and still can't wake up early enough to eat breakfast before work. But that's how this thing goes. It all ebbs and flows all the time in all ways. And it will continue to do so!
There is not an end point to "loving yourself." It's not like you work and work and work at it and finally some angel comes down from the heavens to give you a Certificate of Self-Love along with an key card to open True Love's Door. You're always going to have to work on loving yourself. Always! In or out of a relationship you are still stuck with YOU.
So telling single women that THAT'S THE TICKET to true love is beyond bullshit. Because I do love myself. And I work on it every day. And you know what? I still haven't found a true love. The equation is broken because our society is broken and because our expectations are broken.
I spent YEARS questioning and doubting myself, living in an anxiety-ridden hazy fog thanks to a disease I didn't know I had. And then I spent YEARS trying to reconnect with who I am now that my mind is clear and my body is healed. And I will spend MORE YEARS being with myself day in and day out trying to figure out what the heck I'm doing here. And that is love. And that is LIFE.
Our society already enables the oversaturated notion that we as women are not doing enough, and disables the uncomfortable and less-than-pleasant reality that some things in life just suck. Celiac disease sucks. But I respect my body and my needs and work every day to keep it safe. Dating sucks. But I respect my heart and my needs and work every day to keep it full. Some days that's swiping through Bumble. Some days that's a rebound date. And some days it's firmly saying no to dating.
I do not have to NOT want romantic love in order to prove that I love myself. In fact, I think the fact that I know that I DO want romantic love is an act of loving myself. So on the days I want to pursue it, I will. And on the days I don't, I won't. But I reject the idea that either wanting it or not wanting it is an indication of how much I love myself, as well as a measurement of my success in life. Because whether I'm in a relationship or not, I'm still with me. Always. And that will not change.
So here's where I'll leave it: Some food is not for me. And that's okay. And that's not a measurement of my success or my self-worth. Some jobs are not for me. And that's okay. And that's also not a measurement of my success or my self-worth. And frankly, some people are not for me. And that's okay. And it's not a measurement of my success or my self-worth. Nor will it change depending on how much or little love I give myself.
I should probably delete Instagram.