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by Emma Shehan

Contributing Writer

 “The most important relationship we can all have is the one you have with yourself. The most important journey you can take is one of self-discovery. To know yourself, you must spend time with yourself, you must not be afraid to be alone. Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom”
– Aristotle



As the New Year unfolds and the glow of Valentine's Day approaches, it's a season of reflection, goal-setting, and cherishing the relationships that shape our lives. One relationship that is so often neglected however, is that which we have with ourselves. As Aristotle so astutely put it, self-knowledge is truly life’s most important journey, but one that is so difficult to navigate. My article will delve even further into this and hopefully give you a starting point on your journey to self-discovery and an even stronger relationship with yourself.


With self-knowledge comes self-confidence, self-acceptance, and self-respect, all fundamental values towards having a strong sense of self. Much easier said than done! As a chronic people-pleaser, I myself have struggled with some of these values. I had to consider why the opinions of others hold so much weight, and why they are essential in determining my opinion of myself. Once I realized that I was relying on the validation and acceptance from friends to bolster my self-esteem, I was able to start unravelling that reliance and working on growing and nurturing my own self-acceptance. I learned the power of saying ‘no’ to plans or requests. I started tuning into myself more to gauge my social battery and found that sometimes I was at capacity and needed some downtime. I had struggled with turning down plans previously, as it made me feel like I was letting people down. However I realized that sometimes I need a social break and, most importantly, deserve to put my mental wellbeing first. In order to best address your needs, you first need to know your needs. In doing so, you can take back control of your life and focus on your wellbeing. 


When you’ve created a strong foundation within yourself, you also create a strong foundation upon which to build external relationships. I have found that in prioritizing my self-care and wellness, I began to attract and form better relationships - and realize which ones are no longer serving me on my life’s journey. It is okay to let go of friendships or partnerships that are not bringing positive energy and interactions for you, and being in-tune with yourself and your values will go a long way in helping to determine the value of every friendship. Similarly, when you know yourself well, you will be able to identify people who align with your beliefs and value you for who you truly are. 

"With self-knowledge comes self-confidence, self-acceptance, and self-respect, all fundamental values towards having a strong sense of self."


A final added benefit is that a strong sense of self and self-worth will help you with goal setting and achievement. You’ll have a clearer idea of what you want to pursue, whether your goals are academic, professional, interpersonal, or intrapersonal, you’ll be able to begin steering yourself in the right direction and have the motivation and self-confidence to make it happen. Added bonus - achieving goals just adds momentum towards achieving your next goal, increases your self-worth and improves mental health!


With the pandemic came a great emphasis on self-care, which was certainly sorely needed. However, I think self-care is only half of the equation, and if you’re missing self-esteem and self-acceptance, then self-care can only take you so far. With the start of a new year upon us, let 2024 be the year that you focus on growing your greatest relationship and most important friend - yourself.

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