“You have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love—I love—I love you.”

I sit in my bed with a pint of Häagen–Dazs embedded with caramel cones as I replayed this scene again and again. I squealed every time Mr. Darcy expressed his affection for Elizabeth Bennet. Having watched Pride & Prejudice for the millionth time, I can never seem to overcome the thought of holding such sentiment for someone.

I often question myself when it comes to affection. I've never been one to “put myself out there.” The thought of the action itself makes me shiver as I think about the thousands of rejections I might receive. I see my closest friends blushing at the sight of their crushes, and I try to imagine that sensation. When asked who is more likely to be the 'rich single aunt' of the friend group, the majority of votes go to me. Yes, the idea of being rich sounds fascinating. But, single, really? I smile at the thought of having that wealth of my own, ignoring the ache of sadness surrounding the fact that even my friends think I’ll be spending all that money by myself.

Journeying through high school and beginning college with thoughts of drowning alone forever have left me with many questions about self–esteem and self–love. However, the act of falling in love begins with yourself.

Falling in love with oneself is the act of truly developing love within yourself, rather than from elsewhere. Yes, a potential partner may be your dream, but before this dream can begin, discover the many things you can pleasure yourself with. Gifting ourselves with presents, solo trips, and solo dates can help us realize that sometimes all we need is some alone time with our mind, soul, and body. As these moments of spending time with the soul enrich us, we can soon learn to trust ourselves first and foremost.

There needs to be a greater emphasis on the importance of becoming comfortable with being alone. Just like my fingerprint, there is only one version of me. Why waste life trying to find happiness in someone before building a solid relationship with myself? People come and go daily. Why spend moments seeking happiness in nonreciprocal relations when you have got yourself to please first? Not only does recognizing your treasures and potentials heal you, but it also elevates the expectation of how a significant other must treat you.

Oftentimes, I buy myself flowers or visit the art store. I've found pleasure in eating alone and visiting the city during the weekends. I spend my time scrolling on Pinterest while eating ice cream. I concentrate on the moments that bring me comfort. I found love in reading books by authors who have written about learning the comfort of being alone. Authors like Brianna West, Bianca Sparacino, and Charlotte Freeman share advice on self–awareness and the importance of self worth.

As Sparacino says, “Love should hold your hand and help you brave those storms. Love should be your safe place. So please, just don't give the best parts of yourself to someone who doesn’t see the value in what they are receiving. Don't settle for anyone who doesn't look at you and know, without hesitation, that they will stay.” Cherishing yourself deepens the love and worth you feel as you realize your own potential in life.