Less popular than its preceding ‘Valentine’s Day’, today (Feb 15) is ‘Singles Awareness Day’, in celebration and appreciation of people not in romantic, committed relationships.
Although many countries have adopted some form of singles awareness, the movement has also sparked controversy. Some have rejected the notion that singles need to be sympathised or celebrated, while others are glad there is a holiday during which other types of love — agape (unconditional love) and philia (platonic love), to name a few — are acknowledged.
Whatever the public opinion, we at Roar thought we would celebrate Singles Awareness Day, in one of its simplest forms, philautia (self-love), as the Greek’s call it.
And so we asked a few people we know to write letters of love to their past selves, which we have reproduced below.
We hope that in reading them, you will take a moment to celebrate not just all of the non-romantic but loving relationships you have in your life, but also, and in particular, your love for yourself, which is all the more important.
Dear younger me, with the frizzy hair and unibrow,
I wish I could show you how much you are going to surprise yourself.
You’re almost 30 now, and I don’t think it’s possible for me to show you how to navigate adulthood until you experience it for yourself. But since I know how much you worry if you’re good enough, let me give you some advice:
On your body? Right now, you hear people tell you that you are too thin, that you should eat more and put on some weight. Well, guess what, you will grow up to be quite curvy, only to be told that you should probably try to lose the weight. There is no winning this one kiddo, and I never want you to try. Right now I am in the best shape I have ever been, if only I could show you! Your flat stomach is gone but you have muscles, imagine that. You have your own sense of style that you love, and you have even learnt to love the wild, curly hair that you despised so much. Thank you for never giving up on me, even the tiniest efforts you put into loving yourself really paid off.
On boys? I don’t know, I only deal with men now.
Jokes, most of them are still boys. I know you believe in love, I do too, still. There will be plenty of times you will want to be cynical about love, relationships and all that comes with it. At times people will tell you that it’s better that way. But you know what? Don’t be like that. You have a big heart for a reason. Fall in love. If you like a boy, tell him. Rejection is rough, but you’ll figure out a way to turn it into strength. Always.
As a 31 year old, the most important advice to my former self would be…
Love yourself before you love someone else. It is okay to choose yourself over your partner sometimes and it is definitely okay to disagree. A relationship cannot be a glass jar, a little turbulence should not break the jar, and if it does, it was never meant to be.
If a relationship or person forces you to fit a mould that they have in their mind of what an ‘ideal’ person should be, RUN! Okay, that was too dramatic. Don’t run but definitely reason it out, there has to be a healthy balance of give and take, this is the only way to sustain a relationship in the long-term, with the opposite person, yes but more so with yourself.
Don’t hang on to the notion of love or a relationship. Identify early on if the person respects you, cares for you. No-one is too busy to give the opposite person time, if they don’t, you have your answer. Understand them, yes, be patient, yes, but don’t bend backwards to accommodate them in your life, no matter how gorgeous he is, no matter how his deep brown eyes speak to you. Love, and that spark, are important, but care and respect trump them when it comes to nurturing a relationship.
I would ask my 20 something-year-old self to give respect and care more importance over ‘love at first sight’.
My dearest dear,
I see how alone and tormented you feel — and misunderstood — and unloved. I feel sad even now when I see you.
How I wish you had been strong enough to know that it is okay to feel that way. That all feelings are transient, that your feelings don’t define you, that you can swim comfortably in your difficult feelings and you need not drown in them.
How I wish you had the confidence to know how intelligent and wise and kind and talented you are, even at this young impressionable age.
How I wish you had known that every human being is valuable regardless of any criterion — that every human being is valuable, just because we are all fallible human beings on this incredibly vulnerable journey of life.
How I wish you had felt the love that everyone around you had for you — it is sad that it was not expressed in a way that you could feel it.
How I wish you knew how precious you are — then and even now.