A Radical Reconfiguration of Self-Love

By Chris Marsala

Just last week, I realized that I’m already over a month into my Italian study-abroad experience. One month. Oh. My. GOD! Usually I would be freaking out—and trust me, I’ve had many a FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) moment—but the truth is that I’ve already done a lot of things on my study-abroad checklist: see Michelangelo’s David, buy an authentic Italian leather jacket, eat gelato/pizza/pasta/insert yummy Italian dish here. I’ve also checked off some killer travel spots: secret gem Giglio Island in Maremma, Tuscany; the sun-and-beach-filled Amalfi Coast, and this past weekend colorful Barcelona, Spain.

As you can imagine, there’s still one BIG item on that checklist: falling in love in Italy. And, while I still have two and a half months left, I felt anxious thinking about not reaching that goal. I came here with great expectations, but worry that I may let myself down if I don't meet someone.

"Is that the lesson I was sent here to learn, or does the lesson come through patience—most notably that old adage, “Good things come to those who wait?”

Love is said to be this obligatory journey, so I wonder...what am I supposed to DO with all of the anxiety, insecurity, and even overwhelming melancholy that come up on this sojourn? Thankfully, I heard a voice in my head today that gave me some pretty fabulous advice. Wanna hear it? OK, here it is in two parts:

Number 1: F**k it all!!!

Number 2: Be selfish.

One of my favorite phrases that I ever heard from my high school friends was, “Just put it in the F**k-It Bucket.” I LOVE that phrase: there’s something so freeing about dropping an F-bomb and surrendering to life. At this point, worrying about falling in love is pretty f**king useless (Whoop, there it is!). It has completely been getting in the way of me relaxing into myself and showing off a more adventurous, spicy, and (dare I say it?) naughty side of my persona. Not only has that worry been blocking potential encounters for love from coming to me, but it’s also putting unnecessary stress on my semester abroad. So what do I think about my fear of not falling in love? I’m putting it in the F**k-It Bucket.

Regarding “selfishness,” I remember when I learned that word as a child and intuitively knew that egotism could be detrimental to one’s relationships. Thus ensued years of people pleasing, lying about my emotions for other peoples’ convenience, “rescuing” toxic friends and dealing with codependency issues, and experiencing an overall loss of identity. But, to borrow from part one, f*$% that!!! I’ve got divine dreams, people: places to go, people to see, and stages to perform on, and I flat out refuse to let others’ self-imposed woes get in the way of my soul fulfillment. Why do you think they have a Self-Help/Inspiration section at Barnes and Noble? Get your ass off the grass and into motion!

When I think of what makes ME, Christopher, truly happy, it comes down to being able to reach mass audiences in a powerful way and shine brightly. I DO love attention, and I used to think that was such a “selfish” thing…but honestly girl, that shit is cray-cray!

I want to shine, illuminate, and bedazzle the world like the multi-colored array of lights in an Aurora Borealis. I’ve got joy and jealousy, sassiness and sadness. I’ve got anger and anxiety, optimism and pessimism. I’m a masculine man and a badass bitch. Oh, and did I mention I’m human? You can’t hold me back from experiencing all parts of me, all of my dimensions, however large or small. That, my friends, is the deliciousness of life—being able to BE all of me. And, regardless of whether it’s romantic love, platonic love, familial love, or group love, I only want people who can accept me for who I am right now. If that means flying solo for a bit, then so be it.

As long as I’m truly happy and emotionally grounded within myself, the “true love” bullshit won’t matter. I won’t lie and say that I’ve got the whole “Love Thyself” doctrine down pat. Some days I really rock it and love myself, and others I’m depressed at how far I have to go. One thing’s for sure: when Mr. Dream Dude decides to show up and/or fix his Google Maps direction locator, I’ll already be cultivating a sexy sense of myself. With him, it’ll just be an opportunity to expand and grow on a different level, on a level of synchronous partnership rather than raging indie spirit.

OK, still a lot of raging indie spirit on my part. But—it’ll feel comforting and exciting to have a partner-in-crime join me for the ride.