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Self-Love: the right way

By Hannah Galdes

“I’m not quite sure how this applies to me,” I laughed. “I don't even have a boyfriend.”


Per my friend’s request, I had just completed an online quiz to determine my love language. It was a simple 5-minute quiz, and while I thought it was interesting, I didn’t think it would provide me with any relevant information.  


Fast forward a few months. I was scrolling mindlessly on Instagram when I came across a post that caught my eye. It was a flowery, aesthetically pleasing graphic that listed the best ways to practice self-love according to your love language(s). Thinking back to the quiz I had taken, I looked for the slide that discussed my specific love language: acts of service. The first suggestion for practicing self-love was “cleaning and decluttering your space,” and I had my a-ha moment. 


Anyone that knows me knows that my room can get really, really messy. The weird thing is, though, in all other aspects of my life, I consider myself to be aggressively organized-- like color-coded-planner organized. But whenever I become overwhelmed or anxious, my room looks like it was hit by a tornado. Once I find some calm and recognize the reasons for my negative thoughts, I immediately have the urge to clean the huge mess in my room. This act alone, though it does nothing to address the actual source of stress or sadness in my life, always makes me feel instantly (even if only a little bit) better. I never fully understood why this was the case until that  Instagram post provided an explanation. Just like we all have different ways of expressing and receiving love in our relationships with others, we all have different ways of showing love to ourselves. 


Caring for and loving yourself, as important as they may be, are not always easy tasks. To say that Duke students are busy is an understatement. Between classes, an outrageously long list of extracurriculars, and a social life (and maybe an occasional nap), it can be hard to make time to do things for yourself. And the fact that self-care looks so different from person to person can make it even harder. Most of my friends would say that I am an extrovert. But the truth is, I see myself more as an introvert that acts like an extrovert. That doesn’t mean that I don’t love being social and going out. It just means that I recharge by being alone. While self-care for many people can take the form of going out with friends during times of stress, that is not what it looks like for me. It wasn’t until just recently that I was finally able to accept this. 


Just like it is important to recognize and respect the love languages of our friends and partners, we must do the same thing when it comes to self-love. Self-care is not one size fits all. As I have started trying to show myself love in the “right” way, I’ve made it my goal to perform one act of service for myself every day; it could be anything from dedicating the time in the morning to work out, treating myself to my favorite breakfast, or doing a full skincare routine before I go to bed. Even though I wish a daily skincare routine could fix all of my problems, I know that is not the case. But making a daily commitment to myself and my well-being, no matter how big or small, is definitely a good start.

Check out the photoshoot that was inspired by this article: Five Love Languages

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