I was waiting for the city bus one morning when my eyes landed on some graffiti.Scrawled across the pavement, it said, love yourself before you love others. It was so simple,yet it spoke to me. I could not get it out of my head, and so, I began thinking… This common phrase is a gateway for us to explore the true beauty within ourselves.However, we often find ourselves opting out of that self-discovery by choosing to spend ourtime engrossed with others. While this brings temporary satisfaction, our ability to formlasting relationships is drained. How can one find a friendship with someone else before theyfind it with themselves? How can one form that bond within themselves first, and why is itimportant? I got on the bus, pulled out my laptop, and began typing. The first step to befriending yourself is to stop demanding that you always reach yourhighest potential and realize that, as humans, we are not only made to make mistakes but alsoto learn from them. Just as you would be kind to a friend when they are going through a hardtime, it is crucial that you practice self-kindness for the effort you put in. Self-kindness isrealizing that no one can love you the way you love yourself. This is not secluded to justhappiness and joy, but is most important in times of anguish and despair. This includes being attentive to your personal wants and needs. It is the idea of beingable to hold the door open for yourself before you do so for others. This can be done byfocusing on what makes you smile or decide that “today was a good day.” Whether thatmeans going out for more walks or spending more time journaling, find that spark that makesyou, you. Just like any relationship that grows over time, grow your knowledge of yourself inpieces, then collect them all and observe the complete puzzle. It takes time to gather all the pieces, so do not expect them to be handed to you all atonce. Yet, that is the beauty in taking this journey, as you may find pieces that fit perfectlytogether and others that you are confused to find in your set. Realize that what you thinkshould not “belong” is truly in its perfect place. No two sets will ever be the same, and in thatuniqueness, you can see the beauty in not just each piece, but the whole puzzle of you. Asyou start building this connection with yourself, you will become more aware of the thingsyou thought you liked but did not, and the things that you wish to pursue. Focus on wateringyour own garden before taking that hose elsewhere. Only then will you see your relationshipswith others blossom in a way they never have before. It was funny how such a simple phrase taught me such a valuable lesson. I got off the bus thatday feeling more connected with myself than ever before.