The most important kind of love is towards yourself

Holly McDonald, Feature Editor

As the days of February fill the air with hope after a gloomy January, we all have a desire to show someone how much we love them. The aisles and aisles of flowers, chocolates, and cards don’t let us forget that Valentine’s day is an important day to show our love. But as the holiday approaches, we often jump straight towards loving others and forget to take a moment to acknowledge who we are.

In the month of love, it’s quite unusual how we forget to love ourselves. Now more than ever, we should appreciate ourselves and show some love to the person that we have grown to be. 

“Self love to me is being able to recognize what is great about yourself,” senior Stephanie Glaspie said. “Knowing that your personality and your physical form is perfect the way it is, and being able to recognize the things you love about yourself even if they are small at first they are the first steps to proper self love.”

Taking these steps towards self love can be a seemingly difficult task, especially for women. In society, many standards are placed on females making it difficult to view themselves in a positive light.

“I think that women are often perfectionists because there is a general idea and expectation for women to be perfect at all times,” junior Allison Gadlage said. “There is a societal belief that if women are not seen as perfect, there is something wrong with them, and to prevent this from happening, many women become perfectionists to only be seen in the best light possible. I feel that this idea is horribly wrong and that people should live however they choose without judgment, but society places ideas in our heads that make us believe that we have to be perfect to be accepted.”

In a student led poll answered female students, over half of respondents said they were perfectionists. This feeling of needing perfection, whether we can control it or not, becomes present within women from such a young age.  

Every individual is so beautifully different. It has become difficult to look at ourselves and not compare who we are to someone else, especially in the age of social media. If we practice self-love, we can work towards a happier mindset with less comparison.

When I was younger I would compare myself to others because I was more insecure, but as time went on I began to work on myself and getting to know myself,” junior Elizabeth Jewell said. “Now I have confidence in who I am and I don’t worry what others are thinking. Another way to overcome that is to surround yourself with people who can bring you up and help you have more confidence.”

Comparison in today’s society is a growing issue. In a student conducted survey, 97.2 percent of students said they compare themselves to others sometimes or regularly. 

As we grow up, the things we value become different. Instead of valuing someone else’s opinion, we learn to value our own opinions and our happiness over others.

“I really do think a lot of it comes with age and growing up,” history teacher Mrs. Sarah Thomas said. “I think as you get more mature and older, you start to realize what’s really important and how others view you is not high on that list at all.”

At the end of the day, you will always have yourself. No matter how much life will change, the one person you can always count on is who you are, which is why self love is so important. 

“I value positivity and doing what I want highly,” Gadlage said. “I want to live life with no regrets and doing what I want to do and what I find joy in doing. For this, I value trying to find the good in everything and living in the moment. It makes me happy to focus on the good and look at things with a glass half full attitude, and I value doing what I love with the people I love.” 

Social media can lure us away from this happiness and distract us from what really matters: what lies past the screen. 

“Stop scrolling through social media to see what others are doing,” Mrs. Thomas said. “That can lead to feelings of being left out or what you’re doing isn’t as great or as important as what others are doing. Social media is incredibly deceiving. It’s usually not real life, but instead the moments that people carefully select to share with the world.”

When we learn to stop looking to others as a source of happiness and search within, our self-esteem will rise and we may feel more confident in ourselves and the bodies we live in.

“Confidence allows women to know that they belong, that they were made for a beautiful purpose, and that they have the ability to do whatever they dream up,” junior Eden McCullough said. “I’ve found that I feel like the best version of myself when I am able to recognize that I’m not perfect, and I allow myself to mess up, and I allow myself to take breaks and rest. There is freedom in imperfection and I believe that others can better themselves by embracing it too!”  

Forgiveness, towards ourselves or our circumstances, lets us create a positive mindset towards life. Understanding that mistakes will happen, and we can learn from them, allows us to grow as individuals.

“Although I sometimes hold onto my mistakes, ones that do not matter I try to let go and leave behind me,” Gadlage said. “If I make a mistake one week, I try to look forward to the next best thing I have occurring in my life and focus my energy on that. I don’t want to live a life of regret, I want to be happy as much as possible. I do not want to live focusing on the past.”

Leaving the negativity behind will allow more room for positivity in our lives. Promoting this mindset can help to focus on what fills us up and makes us happy, even on the hardest days.

“Everyone has little things that make them happy and these are daily occurrences,” Glaspie said. “Even on the worst days, there are small events that bring a glimmer of joy. This is why I have recently been posting a series with my friends called ‘The Reason I Smiled Today.’ It really helps me reflect on the days where I am not loving myself or just having a bad day, and it shows me how even at my worst there are still things that bring me happiness and self worth.”

Women are often viewed as emotional, or at least far more emotional than men. Although this is often said with a negative connotation, there is absolutely nothing wrong with embracing emotions, as they are what make us who we are.

“It is often viewed as a bad thing, but I think it is good to be in touch with your thoughts and feelings,” Gadlage said. “I think to an extent in overthinking everything you do and everything other people say can become a damaging and self destructive cycle, but it is good to be aware of what you are thinking and feeling. It is often seen as bad, but it is good to know what you are feeling and thinking and to be aware of your mental health.”

In the end, the path of life becomes much smoother when we can forgive ourselves for our mistakes and love ourselves as much as we have learned to love others. 

“In reality, I can never have it all together,” sophomore Sam Tandy said. “The road to being a better person begins with the little things. And when you look back in a few years, you will be amazed at how far you have come. Not because of how many days you have kept to your schedule, but because of the days that you did not. And you chose to be real and emotional and to adjust your priorities to fit you and the wonderful life you live.”