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Be your own valentine: Students practice self-love on campus

Miracle Okoro
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Cartoon by Logan Roper
Students advocate for a plethora of ways to practice self-care including being in nature, eating your favorite foods, talking to friends and getting lots of sleep.

In the soft glow of the candles, she finds herself looking forward to the date night she so intricately prepared. First, she takes time to relish in a hot shower, do her hair and get nicely dressed for dinner. This night could involve a movie, too, it all depends on the mood. 
Economics student Leah Proctor knew the most important part of this date was making sure she treated herself with the utmost suave. After all, if she couldn’t love herself, how could she receive love? In the month of February, when Hallmark movies seem to come to life, we often forget to love ourselves first.
“People are so giving, and they give so much of their energy and their love to other people that they forget to take care of themselves first,” Proctor said.
Creative writing student Livvy Barnes defines self-love as accepting who you are through self-affirmation.
 “Self-love means loving yourself and the ‘imperfections’ that you have and letting yourself grow,” she said.
 Political science student Angelica Lynn made it clear that pouring into oneself before expressing love to others can be more of a selfless act than a selfish one. 
“It’s not selfish to take care of yourself first because if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of someone else. If you don’t love yourself you can’t love other people. In the Bible, in Mark 12:30-31 it says ‘Love the Lord your God with all your mind, with all your soul, with all your strength. Love your neighbor as yourself there is no commandment greater than these.’ When looking at the verse it makes me think of how if I don’t truly love myself how can I fully love someone else? So to all those that are single, show love to yourself, take care of yourself,” Lynn said.
According to Lynn, Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be sad if you’re single and celebrate yourself. 
“It’s not a sad day for us singles, but a day to celebrate who you are,” Lynn said. “You love yourself by first being honest about who you are and what you want and also by not conforming to what society says you should be, but by being true to yourself. As an African-American woman, it is important that I don’t conform to society’s standards of beauty, but that I embrace the skin that I’m in and just love who God made me to be. Self-love is loving and just embracing my Black Girl Magic,” she said. 
Lynn says self-love involves investment, just like any other kind of relationship. 
 “Take yourself out to dinner, go out with a group of friends, watch a movie, have fun. Sometimes I like to get my nails done. I like to take out some quiet time to read one of my favorite books, watch one of my favorite shows,  journaling and just reflecting on my day,” she said.
According to Proctor, self-care days don’t always have to be spent in solitude. 
“Self-care is definitely something you can do with other people, like with my roommates. Sometimes self-care may look like we’re all watching movies together or, I like to bake, so they’ll help me out and stuff,” Proctor said. 
For Barnes, self-care includes taking time to appreciate those closest to her. 
“We usually take this time to just tell each other how much we appreciate each other too,” Barnes said. “I look at my other Black friends, and I feel the amazingness that it is,” she said. 
Being in a committed relationship with yourself can be just as complicated as any other relationship. Barnes suggests self-care is a journey that requires you to completely love yourself before seeking a significant other.
“A lot of things in society tell us that we’re missing our other half but I don’t see it like that. I don’t see that other person as my other half, it’s just another complete person helping me to be my better self,” Barnes said. “Give yourself a break, it’s hard out there.”

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