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 our
time engrossed with others. While this brings temporary satisfaction, our ability to form
lasting relationships is drained. How can one find a friendship with someone else before they
find it with themselves? How can one form that bond within themselves first, and why is it
important? 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 your
highest potential and realize that, as humans, we are not only made to make mistakes but also
to learn from them. Just as you would be kind to a friend when they are going through a hard
time, it is crucial that you practice self-kindness for the effort you put in. Self-kindness is
realizing that no one can love you the way you love yourself. This is not secluded to just
happiness 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 being
able to hold the door open for yourself before you do so for others. This can be done by
focusing on what makes you smile or decide that “today was a good day.” Whether that
means going out for more walks or spending more time journaling, find that spark that makes
you, you. Just like any relationship that grows over time, grow your knowledge of yourself in
pieces, 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 at
once. Yet, that is the beauty in taking this journey, as you may find pieces that fit perfectly
together and others that you are confused to find in your set. Realize that what you think
should not “belong” is truly in its perfect place. No two sets will ever be the same, and in that
uniqueness, you can see the beauty in not just each piece, but the whole puzzle of you. As
you start building this connection with yourself, you will become more aware of the things
you thought you liked but did not, and the things that you wish to pursue. Focus on watering
your own garden before taking that hose elsewhere. Only then will you see your relationships
with 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 that
day feeling more connected with myself than ever before.

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