Words by Chelsey Roberts
I have started a journey and no one knows. My journey does not involve planes, trains, automobiles, distant lands, or magnificent cultures. My journey is one that involves buying myself flowers on February 15, taking a day to read an important book, wandering for photographs, and pouring determination (and sore fingers) into knitting my own blanket. My journey is one of love and life and a rediscovering of myself.
I was previously employed as a legal assistant, a position that was physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. Shortly after, I found out that my position would be disappearing, as the lawyers departed the firm. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but losing my job turned out to be the best blessing in disguise. Suddenly, I had time. Time to spend with my parents and my siblings, with my grandmothers who hold treasured family histories (and the family recipes), with my friends who have become like family, but most importantly, time to spend with myself.
I’m 25. I’m university-educated. I’m unemployed, but right now, thankfully so. I’m single, and also thankfully so. I am now a firm believer in the idea that the amount of love you give to yourself directly translates into the amount of love you receive from another person. The most significant part of my journey so far has been learning to love myself. I was always that person who poured out her love to others because it felt right and good to do so. But slowly over time, something changed and I didn’t feel like myself anymore. I wasn’t necessarily unhappy, but I knew that something was missing. I tried to fill that void with men who treated me right, but weren’t meant to last for forever. I realized that in loving others, I neglected loving myself. I didn’t have enough love to give myself when I needed it the most. And that was the start of the journey: to learn how to love myself more.
And now, here I am, 4 months into this journey. It is difficult to describe how different I feel because sometimes words are not enough. I am looking for employment again, but I have learned valuable things that will keep me grounded going forward. I would like to take the space I have left to share these things.
1. Take time for yourself:
Take an hour every day and dedicate it to self-love. I know taking an hour may seem impossible, but it is vital and doesn’t have to be something extravagant. Take an hour for yoga, to read your favorite novel, to be creative. Buy yourself flowers, just because.
2. Learn how to say no to others and to yourself:
We live in a world where social norms dictate saying no as impolite. But to me, the ability to say no is a strong act of self-love. Say no to yourself when you feel pressured to work through part of your lunch hour at work. Say no to others when going out means sacrificing self-love time. Giving yourself permission to say no may seem selfish at first, but as you go, I think you will find that you are a better person for it; better because when the time comes to say yes to others, to yourself, to new experiences or uncharted territory, you will be able to fully embrace the beauty of saying yes.
3. Surround yourself with people and passions that enrich your soul:
Hold tight to family and friends who love you and lift you. These people are your source of outside strength for times when your inner strength may falter. Fill your life with things that you are passionate about and know the reasons for those things. I found my creative spirit through photography because it allows me to see the world in a fresh perspective, something I’ve been yearning to have for a very long time.
This journey has been nothing short of incredible. A dear friend asked me why I decided to embrace this journey as wholeheartedly as I have, because it has been a journey of hills and valleys. The reason is simple: to fill my life with light and love, and reminders that when the world is dark, there is always beauty in the next sunrise.
Chelsey Roberts is a self-proclaimed bibliophile, tea lover and amateur photographer who grew up in Saskatchewan, Canada (which isn't quite the middle of nowhere, but you can see it from there). She enjoys trivia nights, snow storms, and campfires on summer nights. Her journey will continue and she's eager to see where the road will take her.