Early last year, I hit an all-time low of loneliness.
I was almost 20 years old, had never been kissed or on a date, let alone in a relationship.
I began asking those around me what was wrong with me. Why didn’t guys like me?
After 10 years of dealing with my own demons and self-esteem issues, I had this major epiphany that I was funny, cute and smart, practically the whole package.
Yet, I've still never had a guy be seriously interested in me.
I knew I was young and this seemed like a first-world problem, but when you’ve spent almost a quarter of your life alone, you start to wonder.
My family and friends all said the same things you’re supposed to tell your single friends, like, “Guys are intimidated by you,” “You don’t need a man to be happy” and my personal favorite, “You need to love yourself first before anybody else can love you.”
I always hated that saying.
Firs off, nobody had known what I had gone through, including the years of hating what I saw in the mirror and crying myself to sleep every night over things I had no control.
Secondly, it was bullsh*t.
As a baby, you’re taught you are loved and you’re taught to love.
We are told all human beings should be treated with respect and are deserving of love.
This is why the golden rule is to treat others the way you want to be treated.
But Barton Goldsmith, PhD, says:
The real truth is that many people learn to love themselves by first being loved by another.
The claim you have to learn self-love before someone else loves you is ridiculous.
Of course, self-acceptance is crucial when letting people in your life, but if our friends and family can accept and love us for who we are, then there should really be no difference romantically.
We don’t learn love in isolation. We can’t learn love in isolation.
Not everyone has family who will make you feel loved from the moment you step foot onto this earth, and that can result in major self-esteem issues.
People with depression, anxiety, eating disorders and those who are just going through tough times also can’t find it in them to love themselves with everything else going on.
But, that doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of love. It does not mean they will not find love.
My friends loved me despite my flaws and despite my lack of confidence.
They are who lifted me up to be the outspoken and outgoing person I am today. They gave me strength when I didn’t have it to begin with.
Sometimes, people need support to learn self-love because being alone doesn’t make you feel cherished or wanted.
People sticking by you through thick and thin does.
So, when people tell me I need to love myself first, it makes me laugh.
I’ve spent 21 years now loving and getting to know myself. Now, I want to share that love with someone else.
Sure, I have friends whom I love so much, but you can’t f*ck your friends.
In Abraham Maslow’s “A Theory of Human Motivation,” he introduces the idea of the hierarchy of needs.
The hierarchy of needs is essentially the natural patterns and stages of growth people go through.
Love and belonging are the third from the top, above physiological and safety needs.
Right above love and belonging is esteem, and at the very top is self-actualization.
This means that after the primal needs of survival, what you need next is love.
This is the only way to reach self-actualization, which according to Maslow, most people never do.
It also means that love gives you a higher esteem and view of yourself.
So, how are we supposed to love ourselves first when nobody loves us?
We need to seek out experiences in life and in love. We need to put ourselves out there and see who walks in our lives, and give them a chance to be in it.
To this day, I still haven’t had a serious relationship, and from time to time, that makes me question if anything is wrong with me.
But, that doesn’t mean I hate myself or that I’m desperate to just be with anybody.
It means I want to care about someone in the same way I want someone to care about me.
It also means I’m still learning, I still have a lot of experiences ahead of me and I still have a lot more people to meet.
After a lot of bad first dates and a taste of heartbreak, the question kind of answered itself: time.
Someday, it will be the right time, and someone will love me. Even if at the moment, I’m not so in love with myself.
And if you’re sad, lonely and don’t love yourself, it does not mean nobody will love you.
It sure as hell doesn’t mean you’re not worthy of love. It’s just not your time yet.
Someday, someone can and will love you, too.