Europe

Juliet’s Balcony: On solo travel and self love, 7 lessons I learnt about love in the past 17 years

I came to Verona for the first time when I was 10 years old. I was at awe to see the famous balcony (albeit graffiti covered) and the only promise that I made to my 10 year old self at the time was that one day I will come back here with someone special, someone I loved. 

I came back to Verona 17 years later with someone I loved- Myself. It took me 17 years, plenty of solo travelling and generally being single (yes grandma, I can hear you disapproving) to realise that the greatest, longest and the most fulfilling love story one can have, is the one they have with themselves. Here are 7 lessons I learnt in the past 17 years, on self love.

1. We are taught continually, from when we are children, to love others. We are, however never taught to love ourselves. We love our parents, we love our friends, family and partners, but how much do we truly love ourselves? How often do we care for our bodies, our thoughts, our emotions? Not very often!

Juliet's Balcony, Verona, Italy - 2001
Juliet's Balcony, Verona, Italy - 2018.

2. We grow up in a world and culture where the media dictates its standards of what can be considered worthy of being loved on the basis of how we look, how much we weigh, what colour we are, where we are from. In a world where there is exceeding amounts of pressure to fit into a box, it can be immensely hard to love your curves. 

3. “You are nobody till somebody loves you.” Sings Dean Martin. And this song, written in 1944, became the anthem that dictates social acceptance of exclusion of single people. Till this day, in a culture of hook ups, one night stands and no strings attached, we all still feel hollow at the thought of being a nobody, because we don’t have that somebody. Be your own hero, fight your own battles, be the person you wish you had. When you do, you will be able to attract the best things and experiences for yourself. 🙂

At Juliet's Balcony, Verona, Italy, 2018

4. No love is eternal, except self love. At some point of time, we have to give up the idea of unconditional, eternal love. Relationships end, people break up, people grow apart and human beings perish. The only person who can continually love you, is yourself. So learn to love those love handles, those pimples, those freckles, that shrill voice and the snort laugh of yours, because its all beautiful and no one or nothing should convince you otherwise.

5. In a world, where we hook up after a couple of shots and ghost people with no second thought, we are perhaps the generation that needs to learn self love more than any other. We discard people like Kleenex, because its what we are used to with ourselves, in the process, we treat ourselves like we are disposable. We are worthy of love, we are worthy of care, we are worthy of the beautiful magic of romance and love.

6. Heartbreak, although absolutely excruciating, is not the end of the world. I think this is the biggest peril when it comes to self love, we measure our self worth on the basis of someone else’s opinions. We so easily submit our entire selves to someone else, our heart, our emotions, our depth, all of it, we surrender entirely to another person, without keeping some of it for ourselves, within us. So naturally, when heartbreak happens, we deem that it is the end of the world for us. But it’s not, it is only the end of the world, if we continued breaking our own hearts. I think this has been my biggest challenge. I love with all of me and so when it ends, I wonder where to start from. But, nevertheless, I persist. We all do. We are stronger than we think.

7. “Treat yourself”, not only in terms of things and services. But with things that help your soul heal. Treat yourself to a mindfulness retreat, so you can catch the negative thoughts as they brew, be mindful of them and reinforce them with positive thoughts. Treat yourself to “me” days, where you listen to your body and give it what it wants, whether it’s a spa, a meal, a drink or even a break from everything. Treat yourself to friends who aspire you to be the best version of yourself. Treat yourself to unconditional love from your pet or your family. Treat yourself as you would treat the love of your life. Because, in all honesty, you are the love of your life.

I hope this post has been useful and informative for you! If you can think of any topics you want me to write about please be sure to email me on : malihaaroundtheworld@gmail.com. And if you like this article, please show a sister some love, head over to instagram and follow my page: @maliharoundtheworld:D

Maliha Fairooz is a 27-year-old Bangladeshi solo traveller, who has travelled to 83 countries, on a Bangladeshi passport. Through her blog www.maliharoundtheworld.com, she shares her experience of travelling as a brown, Muslim, Bangladeshi woman while simultaneously encouraging a culture of travel amongst Bangladeshi youth.

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