Relationships are a HUGE part of our lives, and I'm not just talking about romantic relationships. All types of relationships (friendships, family bonds, romantic, etc.) create a deep connection with another person that fills our hearts with feelings of love and adoration and gives us a sense of belonging. These relationships are everything to us – our friends offer us a shoulder to cry on after a tough school day, our parents offer us advice about how to overcome our hardest obstacles, and our significant others make us aware of our needs in a relationship.
These relationships are all important, and their influence in our lives should not be overlooked or taken for granted. Still, it took me a few failed relationships (both romantic and with friends) to realize that there is no relationship that deserves more attention and nurturing than the one that has been with me through everything (the highs, lows, ups, downs, break-ups, and make-ups) – my relationship with myself.
The First Step: Realizing YOU Matter
This is not a revelation that came quickly or easily. It has taken me 19 years of life and a broken heart on multiple instances for this lesson to hit me: the same effort required to maintain a relationship with someone else is just as necessary in a relationship with myself. This seems so simple, but it requires tremendous effort. Being able to truly love and respect ourselves is something that takes time and patience, but it is certainly worth it. Having a healthy level of self-esteem and confidence is the foundation for all other relationships in life. When you know what you deserve and won’t settle for any less, you will develop stronger, healthier relationships and be more aware of the signs of an unhealthy relationship.
Step 2: Learning from Past Experiences
I’m turning 20 in a little over three months, so I thought it would be interesting to look back on my “teen years” and write about the relationships that have influenced me the most, for better or for worse. Regardless of the relationship, I can say with certainty that each one has been unique and taught me a different lesson, and for that, I’m thankful. Each relationship took me a step closer to finally understanding the importance of my own relationship with myself, and as I transition out of my “teen years” and into my 20's, I'm happy to be taking the time and energy to focus on what I want and what I need.
Step 3: Read My Next Blog!
I'll be writing a few more blog posts highlighting how my past relationships have gotten me to where I am today. There will be stories about relationships that hurt me, and others that helped me, but either way, these relationships matter. They all taught me a little something about myself that I did not know beforehand, and I have no regrets. Above all, through these blog posts, I hope to stress the importance of sometimes putting yourself before others, and how self-respect is key to maintaining healthy relationships and friendships.
My blog post next week is called "There's a first time for everything", and I'll focus on my first romantic relationship. I hope you check it out!