Recently, I rehearsed for my upcoming TedTalk Youth, which is themed “finding your purpose“. What struck me were two things: firstly, only teenage girls - rather than boys - participated; and secondly, a couple of these power girls started out by referring to their purpose in life as being the pursuit of their dream husband. Since it takes courage and discipline to do a TedTalk I knew those girls had consciously embraced the challenge of standing alone on a big stage to present their self-written talks.
We have all heard of the fairy tales called Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. As children, little girls have unconsciously learned that they want to be saved by a charming and beautiful prince who would take care of us so we can live a happily ever after. Reading these fairy tales is actually detrimental because as little girls, we have already internalised that we should look for a man to fulfil our needs and desires to feel complete.
But should we count on another person to complete us? Resting all of our happiness in the hopes of meeting the person of our dreams can ultimately only lead to disappointment and disillusion. Before we look for the love of another person, should we not rather learn to find love within ourselves first? You can only let as much love in from the outside as you feel on the inside. And yet, I am sure that today, on Valentine’s Day, many women will think about just that: finding or being with their life partner. So, this year on 14 February, why not celebrate the love for yourself? Because the most important relationship in your life is the relationship with yourself, after all.
Know Your Worth.
It is proven that women are more likely to struggle with a lack of self-love, which can greatly influence their mental health and self-esteem. Self-love means to invest time in your own happiness and your physical and mental wellbeing. High self-esteem and sustainable personal boundaries go hand in hand. Setting boundaries and extending them to your environment means you prioritise your own needs and feelings rather than assuming the responsibility for those of others (for concrete tips to practise self-love check out Step Five on Self-Love of our upcoming book Unleash Today). If you know your worth you will also be less reliant on the approval of others. By showing self-love to yourself you are subconsciously requesting others to value you, too. That’s super attractive, isn't it? In practise, this also means that you should shift your mindset from “do they like me” to “do I like them”. The right person should see how lovable, competent, and attractive you are rather than you having to convince them of your worth.
If you are a complete confident woman who knows her self-worth, you have the ability to choose. Go after what you want in spite of gender-prevalent rules. Why should we wait for guys to text or chase us? Some of us are afraid to take initiative because of rejection, unreturned text messages or other disappointments. But dating is a process of failing and learning from awkward dates that will eventually get you closer to finding a real love.
Today's Valentine’s Day is particularly special for me, because it will be my last day in my 20s. Dating has changed for me over time. Throughout my 20s I got to know myself better, learned about my preferences and needs. Failed relationships have taught me my likes and dislikes, what I bring to the table and ask in return. My experiences have taught me what I am looking for! At the same time, the dating pool gets smaller; more and more friends around me get engaged, married or pregnant. I also take note of the unconscious pressure many of my friends are experiencing: family expectations, the biological clock, society - they are all seemingly telling us we need to settle down. But we should be careful not to make any romantic decisions based on a timeline of societal ideas of what we are supposed to be doing.
Time To Relax
Lastly, Valentine's Day also falls into Chinese New Year festivities this year. For our Western based followers: Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, is the official start of the new lunar calendar. While it is usually a very lively time of the year, where people spend time at home with family, cooking, chatting and drinking, social-distancing restrictions mean this year is going to feel quite different. At the same time, this quiet period at home will also be a chance to practise self love, decrease stress and reflect upon the previous year!
Sarah Wagner is the co-author of the upcoming book Unleash Today. She works as a project manager in Beijing, China.