A coworker recently asked if my fiancé and I exchanged Valentine gifts (I laughed). “Maybe a card or candy, but I’m pretty sure we didn’t even celebrate birthdays last month.” The overall response was, ‘OMG if my boyfriend ever!’ or, ‘He knows he better get me blah blah blah and blah blah blah.’ The conversation sat with me several days. I realized my relationship with my fiancé is a constant expression of affection (i.e. filling my gas tank at 6 o’clock in the morning so I can make it to work) not spending money on what society says we should give each other one day out of the year. True love is constant and really begins with an innate self-love, enough to be our own Valentine.
Sound feminist? Our country will drop $17.3 billion this Valentine’s Day with an average of half spending $133.91 on candy, cards, dinner and gifts while our divorce rate is about 50% the first time around 60–67% the second and almost 75% the third*. So what’s the real problem with relationships?
Most of us never really learn how to develop the single most important relationship we have, relationship with self. Growing up in a religious home, I was always taught JOY stands for Jesus, Others, You — last. Putting me first felt conceited and selfish, until quit recently.
See the last three months I invested in myself. I listened to much advice from successful business men and women I follow and found a life coach (stay with me, I was skeptical too!) In order to grow, really excel in whatever it is that sparks a fire in you, you must invest time, energy, and yes sometimes even money to get where you want to be.
After an extremely bad reaction to an allergy shot this weekend, piercing ear drums and a throat that felt like a cat was climbing up and down, I took a week off my normal exercise routine and vegged out! In years prior I would have obsessed compulsively over not doing something physical — combined feelings of bloat, setback, and depression taking over. This time was different. I took a warm bath, made myself some tea, ate whatever I wanted, and just breathed. One of the biggest lessons learned from Asha, my mentor, was the extreme importance of self-care.
So many women put themselves at the bottom of their to-do list. This Valentine’s Day, and every day from now on, I encourage you to have compassion for yourself. Love yourself first. Buy flowers. Enjoy a glass of wine (or tea). Take the night off! It’s no coincidence flight attendants instruct us to secure our own oxygen mask prior to anyone else. If you want a lot out of your body, you have to give your body a lot. A lot. So stop shortchanging yourself and in turn everyone else around you. Start investing in your most important relationship, yourself. And hey, go easy on you!