We accept the love we think we deserve.
Perks of Being a Wallflower. Great film. Haven’t read the book yet, but I plan to. But that line, first delivered by Charlie’s teacher, portrayed by Paul Rudd, and later repeated by Charlie to Emma Watson’s character, Sam, made such an impact on me. Those eight words are so simple yet are so intricate and challenging, it is crazy. But not as crazy as how much it rings true.
People are caught up in bad or negative relationships all the time. We see it every day. People are abused — physically, sexually, mentally — by those who claim to love them, and who they claim they love in return. You get caught up wondering why anyone would endure some of the horrors that people caught in these relationships experience, but taking this quote into perspective, it reflects a sad reality. People are constantly lowering their standards and going through sad situations, not only because they believe they can’t get out of it or making a wide range of excuses, but because they believe they don’t deserve any better.
Unfortunately, I’m often stuck with the crowd on this one.
I have never been in a relationship. I turn 21 this year. All throughout high school, I believed it was because I wasn’t good enough for anyone. That I didn’t deserve the love that I so badly wanted to feel, the love I dreamed about since I was old enough to read fairy tales, recreating them in my head with dozens of intensified scenarios that only a writer could dream up. As I got older, I still sat on the sidelines. I sat and watched, as friend after friend found a love so magical, rainbows appeared in the sky as unicorns sprouted out of the ground. And without every having a phrase for it, I silently accepted my fate.
We accept the love we think we deserve.
And I believed I didn’t deserve any.
But, eventually, I got over my self-loathing and told myself that I was wrong; that love is something everyone deserves. And I truly believe that. I believe that love is one of the most powerful things a person can feel, for anything or anyone. To experience love for another person is huge and it can overcome or overpower anything. I believe in this idea so much, that my second tattoo is of the Latin phrase “Omnia Vincit Amor” or, in English, Love Conquers All. And I will forever believe that. I adopted that Latin phrase as a motto, of sorts, after I got out of high school, as I strove to get off the path of self-hatred, low self-esteem weighing down my every step. Every since I graduated, almost two years ago, I have worked on trying to love myself: who I am, what I believe, where I come from, who I want to be, even what I look like (though that has been the hardest battle). I think if I learn to love myself and who I am, then others can love me because who I really am will be able to shine through, without the shadow of doubt and secret, silent hatred hazing my image. And I think I have been pretty successful in completing that goal. I am definitely off the path I was traveling down in high school and I thank God every day for that fact.
But, inevitably, every year around February 14th, I find myself yearning to go back onto that path. Valentine’s Day — or Single Awareness Day, as I like to refer it to — is my least favorite holiday because it is like a giant, flashing neon sign alerting to the whole world that I am alone on the day that is meant to be shared with the one that owns your heart. And every year, I find myself sitting at home alone, eating more chocolate than I have all year while bawling my eyes out to some overplayed romance movie, so I can at least pretend I am crying about the narrative on screen. This year, I think I’ll watch Titanic. And I try to stay optimistic throughout the day, but it becomes hard as literally every step I take, I can see signs and gifts that remind me of my forever alone status. But, after I endure a nice bawling session and the week goes on, I go back to being my positive self, not half as bothered about being alone as I was only a few days before. It is a sad cycle, but one that I seem to repeat and I doubt will end this year. But, I no longer believe that I don’t deserve love, like I used to.
And neither should you.
If anyone reads this, I know some of you may not be in the best place in your relationships. Maybe they hurt you, in ways that no one should ever be hurt. Or maybe you are in the same boat as me, wishing you weren’t alone.
But I want every single person who reads this to know one solid truth: You deserve more than you give yourself credit for. Now, I’m not saying that your relationship should be perfect. I’m not saying that you should be treated like royalty, showered with gifts by the most perfect creation known to man. One of the awesome things about relationships is the struggles it endures and conquers, and how much stronger it becomes because of it.
What I am saying is that love is such a powerful thing. Love has the power to do so much and it is one of the greatest things you will EVER experience in your life: to love and be loved in return. Love is one of the most magical things we have. Why would you allow yourself to half-ass something that has the potential to be so amazing, so brilliant, so powerful, so challenging, so magical? You shouldn’t settle for someone who you know is wrong for you or for someone who treats you badly just because you think you don’t deserve any better, or because you’re afraid of never finding anything better. Life is a grand gift that no one should waste and love is one of the most precious things we are blessed to experience in the short time that we have. Don’t waste it.
So if you love someone, tell them. If you have someone that loves you, appreciate them. If you are single, love the brilliant person you are. Being alone is not a negative thing, though it is often considered in a negative light. Being alone allows you the freedom to discover yourself and who you are. Don’t take that for granted. And you never know who will be waiting in your future. Be ready for them by already loving yourself, so you can love them later on without worrying about you. If you are in a bad situation, do not be afraid to get out of it. Because there is a way out. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. And stop belittling yourself. Love is too powerful an emotion and experience to short-change in your life. Don’t forget that.
We accept the love we think we deserve. And we deserve more than we give ourselves credit for.