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Written By Aspen S., – Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

Valentine’s Day is here and in the air! After an exhausting work week and the constant movement that has been my life in the past few weeks, I am quite looking forward to a night filled with homemade brownies, a bottle of wine, and a hearty Netflix binge.

Now, that sentence alone gave it away that I am very much single, but Valentine’s Day is still one of my favorite days to celebrate. Even as a young child I loved the way the day could be so inclusive. We made our mailboxes and then gave everyone in our grade school classes a valentine so that they felt special. As I got older, it was important for me to continue these traditions but more selectively with my friends. Over time, I outgrew the Valentine’s cards and have replaced them with a simple text, a Valentine’s Day meme that fits their sense of humor, or a quick phone call reminding them how much I love and appreciate them. Platonic love is still love and telling everyone I care about that I love them is something I am actively trying to make more commonplace.

Something else that the spirit of love has me thinking more about lately is self love. In grad school, I gave a lot of thought to the idea of self care as a display of loving oneself. In recent days, I stumbled upon an Instagram post that self care and self love are not one in the same. Self care is making sure that I am ok mentally and physically. For me that looks like binge watching television to mentally disconnecting from stressors in my life. It means lighting candles, listening to soothing music, and taking a bubble bath with a bottle of wine. It’s blocking off time on my Google calendar to go to the gym and meal prep.

In reflecting upon my experiences, I see that surely I have made the space in my world to navigate self care. But self love is something that I want to be more conscious about making time and space for. Self love is exactly what it sounds like. It is all about loving your body and who you are as a person in both your glory and your faults. It takes the idea of acknowledging who you are as a person and what you bring to the table and expressing grace and gratitude towards your existence as you would for the many other people that you’ve grown to love.

I’ve started thinking about the ways that I can better express self love. I’ve come up with three small, but tangible ways that I hope to do this moving forward.

  1.     List the qualities that I love about myself. Just like the people who I care about in my life, there is a reason that I enjoy my own presence. I contribute a lot to the world and to the relationships that I engage in and I need to do a better job of actively acknowledging those traits.
  2.     Speak to myself with grace. Something that I am realizing is that the way I speak to myself is not the way that I speak to others. I speak to others with kindness and understanding. I find myself often speaking to myself with anger and disappointment. I need to change that narrative immediately. While there will be times that I am disappointed in myself, that is not the case most of the time and I need to use the down time to speak to myself with love, expressing some kindness and praise towards my self and my accomplishments.
  3.     Prioritize myself. My other two goals will mean nothing if I don’t make time for myself. I often hear people saying that we will make time for the people and the things that we love and care about. If I’m making a conscious effort to love and care about myself then I need to first make myself a priority.

I’m looking forward to going into this Valentine’s Day with a brand new perspective. I now understand that self care is about building stability while self love is about building confidence. This year I vow to tell those that I care about how much I love them, myself included. I’ll use the holiday as a kick off to my new goal of maintaining a healthy balance of self care and self love.

Aspen S., Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

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