Growing up - especially in the South - it's easy to confuse self-worth with outside validation. Even in the most well meaning of relationships, it can be easy to lose yourself to the idea of being swept off your feet. In the town I grew up in, it's not uncommon to be married with children before your twenty-first birthday, and there's nothing wrong with that-- if that's what you truly want. For years, I attached my worth to this concept. Because that wasn't what I wanted, I felt abnormal and wrong. Even after entering into a healthy and loving relationship, I constantly doubted myself because I didn't have a ring on my finger.
Today and everyday, I'm thankful for a really hard conversation Krisztian and I had about two years ago. I had asked for the millionth time when we would get married. Countless times over the years, I'd be asked when he would propose to me after being together so long. After a frustrated conversation, he said words that struck me to my core: "You're acting like marriage is more important to you than love."
Wow, right? It stopped me in my tracks. I crumpled into a ball and just sat, sobbing, with those words for what felt like one of the longest hours of my life. I was so focused on getting married that I had put the cart before the horse. I had lost track of what was truly important.
From there, everything slowed down. I enjoyed all of the little lovely things again and stopped worrying about the future, just being present with him. The thought still sat in the back of my mind, but it wasn't something that I consciously worried about day in and day out. Instead, I focused on working internally on my mindset, reassessing my values, and becoming a person I would want to be married to (because, to be honest, I had kind of been acting like someone I wouldn't want to be married to for a while).
On Valentine's Day, it's easy to feel alone or wrong. But don't let society or anyone tell you how, or when, or who to love. Practice love everyday - love your friends, love your neighborhood, love your family. Buy chocolates for your significant other (or yourself) just because. Love isn't just a feeling - it truly is a practice - and it's more important than any legal contract you'll ever enter.
*thumbnail photo by Victoria Bonvicini*