Breaking free: Rediscovering self love beyond men

Throughout my high school years, I found myself craving validation from boys, but it rarely came my way. However, when college began and there was a sudden surplus of male attention, everything changed. It felt like I had finally found what I had been missing, but little did I know, it would become an unhealthy obsession.

Annika Morris | Senior Graphic Artist

The constant need for validation became an addiction, leaving me perpetually unsatisfied and always wanting more. I found myself seeking approval from men to the extent of it affecting my emotional well-being. Putting their needs above my own became my new normal, and I naively believed it was how things were supposed to be.

Eventually, I began to recognize the detrimental impact that this cycle was having on me. I noticed the rollercoaster of emotions I experienced — ecstasy when the guy I liked responded positively versus despair when he didn’t. It was a pattern that many of my friends also fell into, leading us all to question why we allowed these boys to have such power over our lives and emotions.

The reality is, the guys we were interested in thrived on the push-and-pull dynamic and were only nice when it suited them and otherwise distant when it didn’t. The constant uncertainty of whether they liked us or not kept us hooked, but deep down, we knew the negative truth. 

Breaking free from this cycle required a conscious effort to reconnect with the things that once brought me joy. For me, diving into my passion for fashion opened doors to new opportunities and friendships. Immersing myself in activities that fulfilled me not only helped me move past the obsession with boys, but also allowed me to cultivate meaningful connections with like-minded individuals.

Now, I urge others to explore their interests and fill their own time with activities that ignite their inner spark. While it may sound cliché, it truly works wonders. Surrounding yourself with friends who uplift you and bring out the best in you is essential. While a romantic partner may make you believe they bring out your best qualities, remember that those qualities were always within you, waiting to be rediscovered.

Additionally, prioritizing academic pursuits can serve as a productive distraction and boost self-esteem. Channeling energy into personal growth and development not only shifts focus away from romantic entanglements, but also yields tangible rewards in the form of academic achievement.

Embracing moments of simplicity and joy, whether through journaling, stargazing or taking leisurely walks, can also foster a sense of inner peace and contentment. Rediscovering oneself outside the context of romantic relationships is both liberating and empowering.

Moreover, practicing self-care rituals such as meditation, yoga or indulging in a favorite hobby can be incredibly nurturing. Taking time to prioritize your physical, emotional and mental well-being is essential for cultivating self-love and resilience.

Lastly, learning to set boundaries and prioritize your own needs and desires is crucial for maintaining healthy relationships — romantic or otherwise. Remember that your worth is not defined by external validation, and true happiness comes from within.

Ultimately, it’s crucial to remind oneself of one’s inherent worth and identity independent from external validation. The right person will enter your life and love you unconditionally, without causing doubt or turmoil. Trust in the journey of self-discovery and embrace the journey towards authentic self love.

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