Silhouette of a Woman Getty Images Entertainment/Giuseppe Cacace
By Stef Skinner

Another Valentine’s Day has come and gone, and I didn’t even realize it was actually happening. This year’s Fall/Winter Fashion Week fell later than usual, and I’ve been so absorbed by the production of 12 shows that I neglected myself and everything going on in the real world. Then came the text from one of my best guy friend’s, Charlie, wishing me love; Love — the four-letter word I have avoided like the plague for the past two years. Only four letters, but with so much meaning that gets lost, twisted, and, if you’re with the wrong person, misunderstood.

In the week leading up to this Hallmark holiday, I found out my cousin and her husband are expecting their first child, and that my best friend Michelle got engaged. While life was happening in the real world, I was up until 2 a.m. doing seating charts, and back at it at 8 a.m. the very next day. While the real world was living, I was continuing inside the bubble I created for myself — my little safety net: work.

Once the panic of life continuing on outside my bubble set in, I realized that I needed to look inward. After a breakup, some say you should put yourself back out there, while others tell you it wasn’t your fault, and the other person was to blame. I have been on both sides: the breaker and the broken. After my last failed relationship, it finally made sense to me — I needed to look inward; forgive my past, live in the present, and hope for a bright future.

Even though I was completely freaked out from the holiday engagements, birth announcements, and everything else going on around me, I found solitude. Although I haven’t had a significant other to celebrate milestones with, or talk about my day to, I have found something better. Over the past two years, I have figured out who I am and what I am not. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s been a great experience, living with no one to answer to but myself. The only questions I’ve had to ask is, “Does this make me happy?  Will I grow? Will this help me become the best version of myself?” They say you need someone to push you to become the person you are going to be, but sometimes you just need to push yourself.

When Charlie reminded me it was Valentine’s Day, I remembered to fall back in love with myself. It has become a holiday to celebrate myself, the life I’ve created, and the person I work on being every single day (literally and figuratively). No longer worrying about what is going on with other people, but being happy for them as they move into the next chapter of their lives. Love is a universal language, but not understood by all, until you know how to make it your own.

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