“You would never treat someone the way you treat yourself,” a friend once told me.
I used to judge my own dreams, give up on my own promises, blame myself for other people’s mistakes, critique my reflection in store windows, justify my accomplishments, and laugh it off in a decibel that felt foreign on my tongue as soon as it hit the air.
I was hopeful, romantic, hardworking, and yet my confidence was completely dependent on others. I was a walking contradiction, and I was steering away from my heart without knowing. I also couldn’t figure out why I was still single after so many years of chasing love.
Afterall, I was a huge believer in love, and my friends and family were often offering me typical words of encouragement.
“Your time will come.”
“You’ll meet him soon, I can feel it.”
“I have a good feeling about this one.”
I held out hope until it turned into my own worst enemy. I believed so hard that when I was disappointed, time and time again, I would beat myself up to the point of no redemption.
I let that disappointment become a part of me and drowned all the attributes I was once proud of. I diluted my soul and was unintentionally convincing myself I wasn’t good enough. I ended up almost losing myself through my unrelenting belief in love.
It was all I thought I needed, but I was searching for it in all the wrong places. I finally realized one day that I wasn’t ready to find love in someone until I found it within myself.
It was just a matter of how.
I had already tried countless times to “find myself.” I moved to New York. I traveled alone. I started writing for a major publication. I got a new job. I did the things you think you’re supposed to do to, but none of it worked.
So I decided to do the thing that scared me the most in the world.
I slowed down.
I did this by becoming more aware of what my soul craved, of what made me laugh authentically, of what awoke my heart, and of the things that brought me back to a sense of self. I got to know who I had become and I entered into a journey toward mindfulness.
I started meditating every day. Slowly, at first, to get into the habit. I offered myself five minutes a day that were wholly mine. I wouldn’t kick myself for getting distracted. Instead, I got used to thanking myself for the gift of those five minutes that turned into more.
I stopped saying yes to things I didn’t want to do because I felt like I needed to, and I started saying yes to the things that scared me, or I didn’t think I had time or money for. I took control of the time the universe gave me and forgave the universe (and myself) when it didn’t work out.
It was slow, my transition, but the best love always is.
I treated myself in little ways. I lit my expensive candle while getting ready instead of saving it. I slept in on a Sunday and read a book in bed without plans. I enjoyed my coffee slowly and ate more mindfully. I unapologetically started to take care of myself.
I began waking up early to work out until it became such a habit I looked forward to it instead of snoozing the alarm. Then, I’d notice the world around me as I walked instead of checking my phone. My walk became lighter, my head higher, and my smile took less effort.
Over time, I learned to hear my own spirit and intuition.
I fell back into the flow of yoga instead of worrying about mastering a handstand. I wrote solely for self-therapy instead of social shares. I did things purely for myself and avoided making a list of “mindful” tasks I needed to accomplish.
Eventually, I started to believe in things too. I believed in my power, in my grace, in my resilience, in my strength, and in my mind. I started to believe in myself.
I ended up finding the love I craved, even though I am still alone. It was a release from expectation, and it freed my soul because the pages of my love story are best read slowly.
If you are like I once was, you may not be ready for love with another either. However, you can take this precious time to fall in love with the ideas and dreams and experiences that only you can have, right now, if you let yourself be aware of what you need.
Slow down. Find peace in little moments and offer time back to who it belongs to. Learn what you love, fill your life with it, and watch yourself come alive.