Love. We all want it. We all have it. Whether we give it or receive it. It can be such a beautiful thing, but can also be the cause of our heartache. Love can come to us from so many different angles, with so many shades. The love of a mother is different to the love of a friend, or how you love yourself. Then, when we layer in our own experiences of love, we have a pretty amazing cocktail of what love looks like to us.
In my 20’s, I didn’t love myself. I was exceptionally hard on my appearance and was not accepting of who I am. If I’m being completely honest with myself, I think I tried too hard to fit in and find love and acceptance in those niche places. It’s kind of funny looking back on it, because I used to believe that when I started my 20’s I would be living a life of complete adulthood. That everything would be in place. That it would be easy. But learning to love myself in my 20’s was probably one of the hardest processes that I had to start. Today, at 30, I’m still going through this process. There are days when I’m fulfilled and accepting of who I am. Then there are others where I question myself and self-doubt wanders into my mind. The most important thing here is that I started the journey.
On the side of family, my late 20’s is where I started to have a lot more appreciation for family. My parents especially. Growing up a little had a shift inside me where my parents also became friends in a way. I shared a lot more of what was going on in my life and was able to have conversations with them that sat outside the standard roles of parent and child. I no longer feel like I have to hide anything from them and value their advice in the same way that I would value a close friends’. I can only see our relationship growing stronger as they accept and encourage the fact that I’ve grown into a strong woman, even though I’ll always be their little girl who played in dirt, making mud pies (fun fact haha!).
I’ve always given a lot to my friends, and for most of them I did have a real sense of love. Friendship love. Probably too often I did too much for them, but at the time the generosity felt completely right. It did lead me to a few situations where I ended up feeling unloved, as what I gave was not always reciprocated, but that expectation lies on me.
So, this section is a tricky one to write, because all of my previous relationships have taught me something new, and none of the men are awful people. In fact, in most cases, they are quite the opposite, and even in times where things have ended in heartache, I can still appreciate, respect and speak highly of them. They’ve taught me that the love in a relationship is that it’s absolutely connected to how much you love yourself.
I used to go for the band type. Long hair and leather pants? Yes please! I was quite focused on the aesthetics of the man, which looking back, I think came from the desire to fit in and be accepted in a niche crowd. But maybe that’s just what I was into? My love back then was so reliant on the other person. I put my happiness in their hands, despite the fact that I was (and still am) a very independent person. Essentially, I gave my power away, whether they wanted it or not. It of course links back to what I’ve written about before in my “Looking back at my 20’s: PRIORITIES” post, where I talk about how I used to envision my life as a romantic comedy. Expecting grand gestures and miracles.
Now, my belief in love is completely different. It feels natural, calm and right. I believe that we are all responsible for our own happiness, and that when two souls come together, it should ignite that happiness further. Love is understanding the other persons needs, while expressing your own. It’s complete acceptance, while keeping your own values and beliefs in alignment. Love is being able to express yourself completely and remain as YOU.
Does anybody relate to anything I’ve written? I’d be so happy to hear about your own experiences with love and what you’ve learnt over your years.