Let’s be honest, at one point or another we all wanted that ‘picture perfect love’ that we see on Instagram/Facebook. We wanted to find our happily ever after with the “one”, and showcase it for the world to see.

We wanted to be that power couple on social media that everyone admires, the couple that looks like they have it all together and they’re doing it “right”. The couple that everyone loves.

I felt like those people just HAD to shove their picture perfect life in everyone’s faces. I thought to myself, just why? Seeing happy couples on the internet always left a bitter taste in my mouth.

The more I saw these so called “picture perfect couples” on Instagram/Facebook, the more sad, lonely, and insecure I felt about myself and about my own love life.

I felt like the Universe was trying to shove my lack of having love in my face.

It made me think to myself..

“Why do they get to have that and I don’t?”
“What makes them so special?”

I then began to realize that love is one of those, not so concrete topics.

If you think about it, the whole concept of love is completely subjective to each. What love means to one, may not be what love means to another. What makes something the “perfect definition of love”? What if someone disagrees with that idea of love?

And what if idealizing love is limiting what love actually is and harming its potential?

My entire life I have always thought love had to be a certain way, had to look and feel a certain way. And if it wasn’t that way, then it definitely couldn’t be love.

I was challenged to change my thinking.

Like so many people probably, I was so focused on those other people on Instagram and felt like I needed to compare my life to them.

It makes sense to me now why I was bitter and offended whenever I saw those couples on Instagram. They were showing me what I thought I could never have.

This took a hit on my self esteem, confidence, mental health, and the spiral just kept going downwards.

I felt like because I wasn’t a certain way that I could never true love like that. Because I didn’t appear a certain way, because I didn’t have a certain amount of followers/friends, that I could never be the type of girl that gets true love.

I was negatively talking down to myself because I never felt like I could fit that “Instagram girl” or “Facebook girl” image and therefore, I would never be worthy enough to find that type of love that “everyone” dreams about.

Looking back, I laugh at myself and at my unrealistic thought processes.

I laugh at how far I separated myself in my mind from ever being able to have that. At how I put that image of love on such a pedestal. At how I compared myself to every other girl on Instagram and Facebook and felt like I lacked those qualities that they had to attain love.

I also laugh at my thinking that THAT is the perfect definition of what love is. That those people must really have it all.

LOL

I’m not laughing at those people. I’m laughing at myself for believing this nonsense, and at the expense of my own self esteem.

I could go on and on talking about how social media can unrealistically projects images and expectations into people minds of what someone’s life should look like. But we'll keep this short and sweet.

Even if that happy couple is perfectly in-love that does not mean that they don't fight, argue, and live imperfect lives behind the “screen”.

So what does that say about what we don't see? We do in fact only see what others choose to show us.

I began to realize that continuing to compare my life to others, I was only limiting myself and my own potential to finding love with the right guy.

So then the questions began to surface:

- What is love?
- What does love look like to others?
- Does love really “look” the same for everyone?

After lots of analyzing, soul searching, self-examining, I had a major breakthrough.

I first realized that I had to let go of the idea that love had to come from a romantic partner. No one else was going to make me happy if I wasn’t happy first.

I then realized that I needed to stop focusing on others, on social media, and start focusing on things that would make me feel amazing.

So I deleted most of my social media accounts.

I began to focus on my own life, my health, my finances, my fitness, my wellness, my skin, and began to make changes on TANGIBLE things that would benefit my life and self-esteem.

During this process of self improvement, it stirred up some painfully honest periods of self analysis.

I was amazed to discover that for years I was putting expectations on other people on fulfilling this pipe dream of mine of how love should be.

When in reality, it was pretty unrealistic to put all of my expectations of what love looks like to me, on another person. Especially when I didn't love myself first.

I realized that I was looking for someone to fill an empty void. Again, an unrealistic and unhealthy expectation.

I then came to the conclusion that first and foremost, we cannot rely on anyone else but ourselves to make us feel confident, worthy, and love.

I knew I had to find that within myself first.

With the positive changes I was making, it triggered a domino effect of other positive changes. Positive changes began with my physical body, my finances, my career, my mood, and my confidence.

As my own body, skin, hair, overall appearance and inner confidence levels began to improve, I began to feel like I was back in the driver’s seat of my own self-esteem. Then as I felt more in control of my self-esteem I felt more empowered.

I then I began to ask myself, if I was a guy would I want to date me?

Not to sound cocky, but I finally began to feel great internally and look great after years of feeling negative about myself - I felt like my efforts were finally paying off.

The answer eventually became yes! I'd totally date myself.

When I reached this point, I actually didn’t feel the need to date or seek out love, contrarily. I was happy being alone, independent, and doing my own thing.

And somehow, that seemed to give off some sort of unspoken signal into the Universe that I'm looking for love, so then multiple single suitors just emerged out of the blue to try and take up that space in my life.

Of course things work that way right?

But I actually didn’t want that space to be filled.

I became so comfortable with my independence and working on myself, that I felt I had to defend my freedom at all costs. Freedom and independence that I felt I had worked so hard to achieve.

I realized that aside from getting love from another person

you can still be 100% fulfilled and feel whole while being single

The second I stopped looking for true love in someone else, I began to find it within myself.

I began to live my life according to me and chose to instead focus on things within my life that I did have the power to change.

In essence, I discovered that love is many things. It does not have to only come in the form of romantic love.

although, all the better if a lover comes your way while you are feeling 100% about yourself!

Moral of the story:

Love has no rules, expectations, or conditions.

You can make it your own. You can mold it in ways that make you, yourself, or you and your s.o. happy.

Just because love appears to be a certain way for others, doesn't mean love has to play out in that way for you.

Your definition and love, and what it means for you and for your s.o. can be different from what most people's visions of love look like.

No one person's view of love is the 'right' one. Even if they think it is.

Love isn’t a charade or performance.

Love with yourself or with your s.o. doesn't have to be a huge parade-like appearance to the world, to Instagram, or to the public.

Of course, if that makes you happy, then go for it!

But don't let outside pressures make you feel like you are doing something wrong by choosing to keep parts of your life private.

Just because many others out there are show-casing their own life, love life to the world, doesn't mean that the same rules have to apply to you and your life.

Regardless of how people's opinions may make you feel, love shouldn't feel pressured or like it’s an obligation or competition with others.

Other people should not be the deciding factor on what makes you happy.

Love can be quiet, private, and simple. Always protect your space, your peace, and protect what you love.

————-

Much love,

Ashley

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