Often times, as women, we question our ability to choose what we believe to be right for ourselves, for fear that we’ll be judged or misunderstood. What I learned, however, in those first few months after my college graduation, is that there is power in exercising my complete agency. Though, admittedly I often wanted nothing more than a friend or a new love interest to swoop in and magically make everything better, deep down I knew that the only person who could control the course of of my life was me.

Eventually, the lightbulb came on in my mind: belonging to yourself is all about being your own best advocate. It’s about being dedicated to the care and nurturing of your body and spirit. Unlike the fluffy advice I was given as a kid, this admonition to belong to myself was a call to action. It’s not about keeping yourself busy until someone else comes along to take the burden. This kind of self-love is about patience, and self-nurture, and trusting yourself to make good decisions.

Of course, it’s not as simple as it sounds. Belonging to yourself can be tiring, especially if you often play the role of the caretaker for others. Taking care of ourselves is not all bubble baths, essential oils and drinking natural wine. Deciding to become your own best advocate may very well be one of the most difficult decisions you ever make. It requires that we extend the love and care that we are so used to extending to others to ourselves, with the same intensity and fervor—if not more.

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