OPINION: Loving yourself is not necessary for loving others

Rachel Chapuis, Opinion Writer

Many people believe you have to love yourself first before you can love others. Going into my sophomore year of college, I had never been in a relationship or anything close to one. I had a very unrealistic idea of what self-love and relationships were.

I thought that self-love was this mystical thing that some people could attain once they really knew themselves and put a lot of effort into bettering themselves. I thought that self-love was something you achieve once you become the best version of yourself. I was not there yet. My little insecurities – like my blonde eyebrows – had a hold on me. Socially, I always put other people’s happiness and needs before my own.

I thought relationships were scary and that you had to love yourself before you could have one. I never understood how someone could love everything about someone, even their flaws. I could never wrap my head around that.

When I first spent time with my partner, I went over to their house to watch TV and meet their cat. I kid you not, I sat on the opposite side of the couch. I hardly made eye contact, I was dripping in sweat and my face was bright red the entire time, but they made me feel comfortable and eased my anxiety.

Throughout our relationship, I began to become more confident in my skin. I didn’t need to wear makeup every time I went out of the house. I wore what I wanted. Eye contact became less intimidating. I had this realization that if this beautiful, flawed person could love me for me, and I could love them for them, why couldn’t I love myself the same way?

I walk by people every day and the first thing I notice about them is never negative, so why do I look or think about myself negatively?

Self-love looks different for everyone. Self-love is not something that is constant. It’s something that comes and goes. It’s something you practice and work on. There are different practices of self-love and finding practices that work best for you is important. Some examples of practices are keeping a gratitude journal, complimenting yourself and limiting time on social media.

You can work on self-love and get to a place where you do love yourself, but there will be times when you feel insecure or have negative thoughts. That’s normal. Self-love is not something you achieve. It’s an ongoing process and has difficulties.

I’ve gotten to a place in my life where I feel comfortable in my own skin and speak up for myself. I’m working on prioritizing and trusting myself. I’m constantly working on bettering myself and I can love others while doing it.

Rachel Chapuis is an opinion writer. Contact her at [email protected].