Valentine’s Day is for loving yourself as it is for loving others

by Elizabeth Sawka

Assistant Opinion Editor

Valentine’s Day always brings lots of hype about candy and hearts, but all the pink and red candy in Wegmans reminds me that there’s  kind of love we don’t usually talk about on February 14: Self-love.  The American Chemical Society had a candy rose sale this week, and I bought chocolate roses for both my roommates because this time of year I like to remind my friends that I care about them, but I also bought a candy rose for myself because I care about me. And chocolate. Most of my decisions revolve around whether or not I’ll get chocolate.

Riley Redgate wrote a great essay called “Girls Who Love Themselves” that pointed out that lots of heroines in fiction have no faith in themselves, and this lack of confidence is romanticized.  It’s rare that I find a story that has a protagonist that celebrates themselves–Harry Potter certainly shies away from the responsibility of defeating Voldemort (though it was his mother’s love that protected him, so maybe it’s good he’s not taking all the credit) but I think it would be a much better Hunger Games trilogy if Katniss embraced that she was the face of the revolution against President Snow.  I’d like to see more stories about protagonists that are embracing who they are and the power they have. I’m not saying Harry or Katniss are bad heroes because self doubt is very real and should be represented in literature and films, but shouldn’t self-confidence be there too?

If we can’t find enough stories of self-confidence and self-love, then we need to write our own stories.  I’m not saying we all need to become fiction writers because it’s certainly not for everyone, but you’re in charge of your own life, your own story.  If Tommy and Donna from Parks and Recreation have taught me anything, it’s ‘treat yo self’.  Tommy and Donna only do this one day each year and they get a little extreme–after all, we can’t all afford to buy fine leather good every day of the year.  But we can give ourselves a little love every day of the year–and that love doesn’t have to be something you buy yourself.  

Yesterday the Counselling Center had a Body Image Awareness table in the library with a scale with pictures on it instead of numbers.  When  I stood on it, the scale turned to a picture of a heart.  Each picture corresponded to a card with quotes about accepting and embracing ourselves.  There was also  a trifold board where students wrote notes of body positivity about themselves with messages like “I love my hair” and “I love my body.”I also went to the weekly meditation group that the Counselling Center hosts in Bosch at 3 p.m.  It was my first time visiting the meditation group, so it’s my understanding that the meditation group activity changes every week, but yesterday we colored pictures from adult coloring books.  

Self-love can take the form of maintaining your physical health–like doing yoga or eating more fresh produce and less chocolate (though I don’t ever recommend eating less chocolate).  If you can’t go to the meditation group on Thursdays at 3 p.m., you should consider joining an IgNite team or meditating on your own. Self-love can also be giving yourself twenty minutes to watch an episode of Parks and Recreation over lunch, or making time for yourself at another point in your day.  It’s easy to get caught up in feeling like a part of a group, especially at a small school like ours, but time alone is good for the soul.  Canisius is a great place to spend four years, but it’s important that students don’t get caught up with the next step in their academic or career plans. The four years will pass whether you find a way to show yourself love or not, but they’ll be much more enjoyable if you learn to treat yo self without feeling guilty.  

Treating yourself is about hanging out with yourself and treating yourself the way you treat the people you love.  Listen to the way you talk to yourself–when you look in the mirror, do you admire your body, or do you try to hide the things you don’t like? Are the comments you make about your own body ones that you would feel comfortable saying to your friends and loved ones?  Taking time to be alone and relax allows you to stay in touch with yourself and be honest about the stressors in your life–it’s easy to get caught up with the next step in our academic goals, whether that be a paper or an internship. Spending time alone drawing or journaling lets us keep our goals in perspective, because we are more than our resumes.  Join Tommy and Donna on the ‘treat yo self’ team–you don’t have to buy a Batman costume like Ben, but the team is happy to have you.

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