I’ve been in a relationship for nearly two months now, and it has revealed every insecurity I never knew I had. In day to day life, I present myself as a relatively confident and capable young woman. I have an active social life, a loving family, and a marketing job that I adore. I like learning things, such as pottery and salsa dancing. I’m passionate about what I do. Although I’m far from perfect, I’ve been working on myself in all the important ways, and until two months ago I could have honestly told you that I was generally content with my existence.
Falling in love changes everything. When you’re in the early stages of a romantic relationship, you have to deal with everything from low self esteem to anxiety to paranoia. What if he doesn’t text me for a few hours? Does he want to break up with me? Am I not good enough? Am I not pretty, or smart, or interesting, or funny? What is he doing that’s more important to him than I am?
If this inner monologue sounds insane, that’s because it is. But often these thoughts come up by themselves, completely unwelcome and unwarranted. It can send you in a downward spiral for days on end, crying without any valid reason. I crave my boyfriend’s time and attention more than anything else in the world, and when I am left on my own for too long, there’s very little that can make me feel better.
What’s the silver lining, you ask? It’s simple. The act of falling in love with someone else can help you to discover all the ways in which you need to love yourself more. Maybe you have issues with body image, and fear being naked in front of another person. When you have a strong incentive to face that fear, suddenly you are empowered (by the force of your love) to accept yourself the way you are. In my case, I’m trying to stop asking for constant validation from my boyfriend, and instead I’m trying to give that validation to myself. The truth is, you can only receive the love that you feel you deserve, and it is only through the power of self-loving that all other forms of love can take place. It’s a wake up call that challenges you to address all of your fears and doubts, so that you may finally be strong enough (and simultaneously vulnerable enough) to open up your heart to another human being.
Although falling in love has not been easy for me, I feel so blessed to have found someone who can inspire me to love myself better. I will treasure my relationship with my boyfriend, but more importantly, I will treasure my relationship with myself. I will devote myself to acts of self-compassion, positive self-talk, and spending quality me-time, because at the end of the day, the relationship I have with myself will last me my entire life.