Personal essay: Swipe right on myself

Illustration+of+Meghan+Bravo+swiping+right+on+herself.

Crystal Nigo-Bravo

Illustration of Meghan Bravo swiping right on herself.

Meghan Bravo, Staff Reporter

“How do I know how to love myself?” was the one question that struck me the most. It felt like someone read the book of my life, asking questions that could never escape my mind. 

 The Cross Cultural Center held an event this past Tuesday called “Love at First Swipe: Dating and Self-Love in the Digital Age” where attendees anonymously asked questions about dating and self-love on a piece of paper, then read the questions aloud for the group to answer collectively.

 Question-after-question, it dove deeper into my subconscious as I asked myself the same things.

 Growing up, I OFTEN cried in clothing store dressing rooms. Wearing jackets was necessary, even on hot summer days. Bathing suits were completely out of the question. Looking in the mirror, I tried to find what I thought needed to change about my body.

 I never felt like I fit society’s definition of “beautiful.” I looked nothing like the girls on TV, in movies or in magazines. I was just a chubby Mexican girl with messy hair. All these factors contributed to me not loving myself, which resulted in searching elsewhere for love. My solution was to change my physique and find a man.

Right before my third year of college, I found myself a boyfriend. I finally found someone to love me, which I thought could help me eventually love myself.

The idea of having a significant other seemed so great to me, so I set no standards for the relationship. I was in the relationship just to be in it, not because I loved him or he loved me.

I knowingly settled for an affectionless relationship, thinking it was good enough for me at the time. It was easy for him to manipulate me into believing his happiness was worth more than mine because I didn’t know my worth.

I became dependent on the relationship, dependent on him.

I was scared that no one could love me, because I couldn’t even love me. I allowed myself to be in a relationship I had no business being in because it was better than being alone with my insecurities again.

I knew it was time to end the relationship when I realized it was taking more from me than I was giving. It took losing myself in the relationship to find out who I really was.

I felt free.

When the question, “How do I know how to love myself?” was asked, for once I felt like I knew the answer. Until recently, I didn’t realize how much I enjoy sitting outside and listening to music. I didn’t know how empowering it felt to walk alone downtown. For once, being alone felt good.

I realized this whole time, I was searching for love in all the wrong places when it should have come from myself.

Now that I actually love myself, I’ve never felt more beautiful; I’ve never felt so powerful. Every single day, I feel myself getting stronger, more ambitious, more loving, more understanding, more perceptive. Now, I know my worth.