How I learned to love myself and prioritize my needs

Tamara Syed
2 min readJun 27, 2021


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Some of the best writing advice I ever got was, “Take out the romance. It throws the story off, focus on the protagonist.”

This is advice that I have applied to my own life. I’m a romantic, but not by choice. I grew up watching Disney princesses being whisked away by charming princes to have their happily ever after. I knew about romance before I was old enough to even like boys. In high school, I fawned over Mr. Darcy in the Pride and Prejudice film, even though it was hard to grasp Jane Austen’s language — there was something about him. Again, the woman was whisked away to live happily ever after — with a man.

Through years of social conditioning and programming I simply equated long term happiness with finding the love of my life. Love was somewhere out there and I needed to find it. Little did I know I held the keys to a never ending well of love within myself.

I’m divorced and I’m proud of it. I’m proud that I was strong enough to walk away when I knew it was no longer working. I had this nagging feeling within me that I needed to go it alone for a while — I needed to cultivate my independence, I needed to learn how to love myself.

I needed to focus on the protagonist of my story, me.

Placing my own happiness on anything external was a sure fire way to fail. The weight of expectations that can be placed on somebody else can crush them. I was seeking a never ending well of love from people, places, and things that could never fulfill that need.

How am I supposed to tap into this never ending well of love within me? I know exactly where to start — all that love I give freely to others? The energy, the time — I will now pour that into me. At first, it was hard saying “no” to things that I would usually say yes to. Instead of saying no I would say, “Could you give me the day to think about it?” It lessened the sting of rejection for both of us.

Prioritizing my needs over the needs of others allowed me the time to focus on my passions, reach my health and fitness goals, and I was able to better show up for friends and family because I didn’t feel like I was pouring from an empty cup.

There are many times when I walk into a coffee shop or bookstore wondering, “Is the love of my life in here too?” But then I catch a glimpse of myself in the reflection of the window and I realize the love of my life has been with me all along.



Tamara Syed