I remember flinging myself into Mum's arms as an innocent 15 year old bub, declaring my undying love for a boy. She didn't tell me I was silly or to cut out the nonsense (she was WELL used to it by this stage!) but she did say one thing I have never forgotten. One thing I have kept close to my heart from that day since.
'Always make sure you keep a little bit of yourself just for you'.
As a dramatic, romantically inclined teenager, I don't think I fully understood this but I sort of got the gist. At the time, I was possibly even slightly miffed that Mum chose to impose such serious words on me when I was clearly in the midst of the most AMAZING ROMANCE EVER EXPERIENCED. These days, I understand this gentle advice more & more, in all it's beautiful complexities. I am still very young and I still have a lot to learn - thank goodness - but as the days go by, I appreciate and cherish this wisdom more than any other. I tend to love with just about all the fire in my heart. I love fiercely & ferociously, at times to my own detriment. But I am still careful to reserve a very sacred place in my heart just for me. Perhaps one day I won't feel the need to hold onto that quite so tightly. Perhaps, one day, I will suddenly peek at my insides and realise that little piece has gone, wandered blissfully into the hands of another.
I am an independent creature with a fancy for quiet afternoons that stretch into thoughtful, painting evenings. I like pottering amongst my plant babies & plucking off dead-flower heads like my life depends on it. I like calling Mum & Dad for 'quick' chats that are never quite that. I like abruptly deciding that my saucepan cupboard needs rearranging and finding myself, hours later, cross-legged in the middle of the floor, surrounded by things, snacking on not-quite-ripe plums & humming to Florence. I'm not too fussed that perhaps not many 20something girls share this kind of contentment in pottering about on their lonesome. That's just me. And if experience has taught me anything, it's that trying to be anything besides that is ridiculous & draining & satisfies, well, no one.
I believe in love. In soul mates. In trying to make something work even if you fall flat on your face and look a little silly. In holding hands in the car. In giggling about something with 'that' person that nobody else in the whole world would understand. In curling up in arms & feeling an insane sense of relief & safety & tenderness. In love notes on the mirror. In kisses & sharing a cuppa & chats at 4am. I cry in every romantic book or movie & I have faith in the terrifying beauty of it all. I only need to look at my Mum & Dad to be reminded of how love can quite truly conquer.
But I also believe in a strong sense of self. In a love & value of our own hearts & thoughts. In the strength of learning to fix things on your own, even if it hurts a little. I don't know where or who I would be without preserving some me for me. I am so incredibly grateful that I have. That treasured fragment keeps me getting up again when hard things knock me backwards.
So, for all the solo sisters or loved-up misters. For the single & the sad & the hopeful & the attached.. Happy Valentines Day. Whether or not we celebrate the day, it is impossible not to think about love in all it's shapes and forms. And if you're alone, just remember, you have you. And that's pretty damn wonderful.
I'll leave you with my favourite words.
'Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers'
- Veronica A. Shoffstall.
xx Jessie Lee