Last week, one of my younger male colleagues, recently engaged to be married, asked me if I had received a rose from my husband. I must have looked blank, because he prompted, "today’s Rose Day, you know".
Ah… the run up to Valentines’ Day. I looked around to see whether there were any signs of blossoming love in the newsroom. It was largely a young-ish crowd and though there were quite a few hard-bitten journalists, who reputedly did not have the time or inclination for the softer emotions, I saw some of my junior colleagues, both male and female, surreptitiously fiddling around with roses probably given to them by their significant others.
As we progress towards D-Day, Feb 14, the talk is turning more towards ‘celebrating’ the day, and plans are being made to mark it in some special way. Mind you, I’m all for love and the celebration of it, and damn those who say it’s not a part of our culture. Love is part of all cultures and it does not matter how we observe it, even if we have to import a Western custom.
If it were up to me, I’d have a Ministry of Love and it would promote love, not only within the country, but also with our neighbours and other countries – because it is way better than making war.
Love Yourself First
Yes, I know the accent on Valentines’ Day is all about romantic and sexual love. This puts a lot of pressure on people, especially young people, to find prospective partners or get into relationships. Children as young as 12, 13, and 14 years old come under the pressure of having girlfriends and boyfriends with whom they can exchange Valentines’ Day cards and gifts. People who are single and alone are made to feel excluded and their self-worth diminished, especially in the context of that particular day. It is not surprising therefore that not having a significant other dents their confidence, bombarded as we are by images, stories, narratives of doing wonderful things as a couple.
While looking for a prospective partner to love and be loved in return is in the natural order of things, our self-image need not and should not be tied to that relationship or partnership. As someone once said, you need to have a lifelong love affair with yourself first. Ask yourself, ‘what’s your relationship with you?’. Do you like yourself? Do you love yourself? Who knows you better than you? Remember this, if you cannot love yourself, how do you expect someone else to love you?
It’s more important that you love yourself more than any other person loves you. If Feb is the month for love, then lavish love on yourself. Pamper yourself. Take pride in you, your looks and personality. I don’t merely mean in the sense of the physical, but also mentally. Meditate. Listen to good music. Dance, if that is what you love. Do all the things that gratify you. Buy new clothes. Buy that little black number you’ve always coveted. Go in for that gold facial. Start Valentines’ Day with a morning walk or run and then have some green tea. Promise yourself that you will care and cherish your body always.
Valentines’ Day is not just about loving your partners and spouses. If you are looking to lavish love, how about your family members – your parents, grandparents, siblings, children, your pets and animals on the street, people who work in your home? Everyone deserves love.
Feel Comfortable in your Skin
Self-image is a tricky thing. We are always comparing ourselves with some external standard of beauty and image that some random people have dreamt up. We look at ourselves in our mirrors and then at the photos of the ‘models’ and feel dissatisfied with ourselves. Who are ‘they’ to say who is beautiful or not beautiful? I feel beautiful, therefore I am. That should be your mantra.
If you feel ugly because you are overweight, then resolve to do something about it. Overweight is not ugly; overweight is unhealthy. But there is something you can do about it. Not all of us can have the face and features of Aishwarya Rai, but we can do something about our bodies. Instead of trying to look pretty for someone else, look pretty for yourself.
Your blemishes and scars do not define you – it is what you are as a person that everyone remembers. You need to love yourself with all your faults and warts. If you think that your external packaging needs a boost and a makeover, then love yourself enough to do that, instead of just stressing about it.
External beauty is overrated. As I always maintain, The Taj Mahal is a beautiful structure, but would be a thoroughly uncomfortable, cold and draughty place to live in.