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I laugh now when I think about it, but February used to be a month I didn’t quite like for a long time. I was always grateful it was short and loved how the month picked up speed and came to an abrupt end after the 14th.

In high school I spent a few of my years in boarding school. And just as one would be flowing into the swing of things, Valentine’s Day came screeching in to remind my late bloomer self just how far behind the crop I was blooming and how hopeless I was at this whole love vibe.

So this one year, after many years of being the only girl in our 6 sleeper boarding room to not receive flowers (and boy do I love flowers), I took matters into my own hands, I sent a boy, who was a few years my senior, a rose – besides the fact that this was the only thing available as a boarding house student, this was the only permitted Valentine’s gesture at our school.

Still, nothing.

Instead, during one of the school breaks one of his friends approached me to let me know how sweet I was for that and out of all the many flowers his friend had gotten, he found it so sweet that his ‘sister’ had sent him one too. Embarrassing much?!

Of all the interactions we had (hellos and shy glances), he viewed me as a sister? Yikes!

The following year, I again took matters into my own hands, I sent myself flowers. I’d send myself flowers. About three of them and pretend I have 3 secret admirers.

It worked.

Whilst my fellow roommates had raked in several flowers each, they found three from secret admirers quite something.

This became my strategy at keeping my peace. Send myself flowers. Then I thought the real flowers would start coming in. It must have been Grade 11 and I had two boys who liked me. This was helluva confusing because for a long time, I had learnt to “love myself” to the point of sending myself flowers.

“Does this mean I need to stop sending myself flowers, lest I get caught?” I often wondered.

But as life would have it, the one time I thought these darn boys would show up and show out, one of them did something grand for a popular girl, the other did absolutely nothing, but walk me back from dining hall; and there I was, no flowers and no secret admirers.

I wanted to kick myself because all the girls sat around eating their chocolate whilst I sat on MIXIT chatting to someone that disappointed me.

“The cracks always show later on in life”, my husband jokes when I tell him such stories; and they do!

I’m that girl that buys herself flowers and loves decorating our home with fresh cuts either from my garden or the flower market. But for a long time, I’d get so upset when my husband wouldn’t bring me flowers at least once a month and he didn’t even know. I’d harbour this sort of frustration or annoyance. I didn’t know how to articulate it, but I also didn’t want to blatantly say “I just want surprise flowers, not because I’m asking you or because it’s an occasion but because you just happened to stumble upon a fresh bunch, and they reminded you of your fresh wife…”

Ridiculous I know, probably not probable, but you catch my drift, right?

During a conversation, we had as we were reflecting on the gaps and ways we’d like to grow our marriage, I said “flowers, I’d like flowers. You never get me flowers. It’s only on special occasions.”

“Flowers?” He was so confused. As if to say, “Is that all?”

“Yeah, I love flowers. They make me feel good and seen.”

“Oh,” he said.

As our relationship has grown, we have also realised the nuances that make us US. The moments and things that weed out the awkwardness, shame, sadness, and unsaid things that tend to dirty our relationships. In weeding these things out and allowing God to take us back to our most authentic selves as two people that deeply love each other, as the heart of them has been the gestures that mean a lot to the one but may not be fully grasped by another.

To grow in love where you are planted to me means to accept that I cannot change my environment if I remain the same. I must grow. For plants to grow they take up water and mineral nutrients through their roots and then deliver organic matter back to the soil via litterfall, roots and root fluids.

I view the events that lead to me buying myself flowers and growing in loving myself as a high schooler as one of the most important first acts of radical self-love though the circumstances came out of not wanting to be left out. When I fell back from the commitment and realised, I had to do it myself for me because only I would fully grasp the love I had for the presence of flowers, I immediately picked up from there and took my power of making me happy back.

It takes work to commit to love, even loving yourself and then following through with that radical self-love. It is work! Those around you may not understand and you may not fully grasp or understand the gestures that make others feel loved, but I invite you to commit to growing in that area of love, continuously making a concerted effort not to bury your head in the soil when you feel like the way you would like to receive love may not be understood or received well – because chances are, those that don’t want to understand or don’t want to make an effort will never water you.

How will you commit to growing in whatever area of love you need development in this year?