Since my boyfriend is always behind the camera, I wanted him to step in front of it this time so we can take cute pictures that we can have tucked away for years to come. I’m so in love with these pics!!! A special thank you to a dear friend,  Stephanie Warner (SJWPhotography) for taking these. If you’re in the Northern California area and need a great photographer, these are her social media links:

Email || SmugMug || Facebook || Instagram 

We took these at the most gorgeous venue called Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga, CA.

Okay how handsome is my boyfriend?? I almost threw my phone when I first saw these pics lmao.

I can’t forget to mention how gorgeous my dress was. I got it on sale during Black Friday. Link is below!

Outfit details:

My dress LoveCulture || My earrings Forever21

His shirt Zara || His shoes Zara

    In order to really celebrate my two years of pure, real love, I have to also celebrate my self love. Below is my story about my journey to achieve that, and also what led me to the most amazing man I’ve ever met. *warning* Long post ahead, but worth the read.

    Side note: I don’t mean to dig up my dirty laundry for the sake of throwing dirt on my ex’s name (as I’m far past that & we’re actually civil towards each other these days & have no more hard feelings towards another), but I feel that it’s necessary to really give you an idea of how bad it was.

    Before this current relationship, I was with a guy for 2 years, too. I kid you not, I caught him up on stuff regularly… a lot of stuff. From having girls over while I was outta town, to changing girls’ names in his phone to guys’ names, anything shady you can really think of (lol)… anyways, you get the picture. He was bad news to say the least.

    I know you’re wondering- then why would you stay? A few reasons why I stayed:

  1. It was my first serious relationship. I had read everywhere that ‘all relationships were hard work, never perfect’, so I really just assumed everyone else’s relationship was just as bad and I was just being knit picky. (He also convinced me that I was ‘trippin’ or ‘being crazy’ to hold up the illusion that *I* was the problem and not him).
  2. I never actually caught him red-handed cheating. I caught him up on lies but never in the act or solid proof of it. And again, he made me believe it was just in my head. (It was only after we broke up that he admitted to all the cheating. I’m surprised he even came clean lol)
  3. The biggest biggest reason I stayed: I did not love myself.

The way you feel about yourself creates the blueprint for all your relationships- romantic or not. I cannot stress this enough.

    After that relationship failed, I’m not gonna lie- I blamed myself for it. He made me feel that I wasn’t enough. I was too much. So it really took a hit to my self-esteem. I always asked myself, “I was literally the perfect girlfriend. I supported him, I took care of him, his family loved me, I was there at his lowest… but I clearly wasn’t enough for him not to cheat.” WRONG.

    Ladies, just because he didn’t value you, doesn’t mean you lack value. And it took a lot of self-reflecting to understand that. (also, huge note- you gotta be by yourself and not in another relationship to heal from your last. I know that a lot of women think that hopping into another relationship will heal you from your last- it won’t. In fact, it makes it worse because you take your hurt and project it onto your new bf, and they don’t deserve that. It’s just a temporary satisfaction and won’t fix anything. I was single for 2 years before I met my current bf!)

    Self-reflection is a sign of growth. Finding out and understanding why you think the way you do, why you act in certain ways and say certain things, and then working on yourself is so crucial.

    So, with growth as a priority of mine, I explored and found out- I did not love myself. How did I know that? Here were some of the signs:

  • I was constantly comparing myself to others (‘I wish I had…’ ‘ugh her body is better than mine’)
  • I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin (I couldn’t leave my apartment without having a full face of makeup on or my hair done). Now ladies, this isn’t an attack on those who do, because girls have different reasons as to why they do so. But for me personally, I couldn’t bare to have others see me unless I was dolled up- even just to the grocery store. I had this idea that people were always gonna judge me so by getting dolled up I convinced myself they would judge me less (ha! How silly of a concept right?)
  • (during my relationship) I really really didn’t like being social with other girls. Whenever my boyfriend and I were out and met new faces, or he would introduce me to someone he knew, I would give the dirtiest look and just brush off an introduction. (In my head I thought everyone wanted my bf, so being standoffish was my way of kind of marking my territory). I really can’t believe I’m typing all of this out! LOL. I was a hot mess, I know.
  • I really tried hard to impress people. Whether it be by my clothes, jewelry, makeup, latest things etc etc- I wanted people to like me. I figured that if I had the latest things I would attract more friends.
  • I was always so jealous when I saw happy people. When I saw a happy couple on insta, I would roll my eyes and think “they’re probably fake happy” (because I was. None of the posts I had of my ex and I were actually genuine- this ties into the example above of trying to impress people^). Even if the couple was happy, I wanted them to be miserable because I didn’t think it was fair that I was miserable only. I was very envious. Because I wasn’t happy with myself, I wished others weren’t too. The term “misery loves company” is really true. You’re not happy with yourself so you couldn’t be happy for others.
  • Most importantly- I didn’t love myself because I stayed in a really bad relationship with someone who wasn’t worthy of my time, effort, and love. That, ladies, is a form of self-inflicted pain. You keep forgiving those who don’t deserve it, therefore you hurt yourself over and over again.

    I was able to identify that these were signs of the lack of self-love through a lot of reading. I grew a love for self-help books mainly because there’s always a book out there you can relate to. I thought I was alone in feeling the way I did until I picked up a book and realized there are other people out there with the same struggles. The first step to healing is identifying and believing you actually have a problem.

    So now that I identified that I didn’t love myself, it was time for me to go to work. Everyone these days are preaching self-love, but how do you actually practice loving yourself? These are some of the practices I had (that ties in with the ones above):

  • I tried so hard to stop comparing myself to others! And in returned praised myself. I replaced “Ugh I wish I had her body” to “She has a great body! I actually have bomb legs too!” By replacing the negativity with positivity, it helped rid my heart of envy and acted as a pat on the back for myself every time. And as women, being the selfless creatures that we are, we need those pats on our backs often.
  • I stopped wearing makeup (unless I was out with friends). I know it seems so insignificant of an act, but it actually helped my confidence a lot. By not wearing makeup and showing my flaws to the world, I was able to accept them. I actually gave this tip to one of my friends this past year and she was surprised at how liberating it was. She used to go to work and school with a full face, and surprised herself with how comfortable she was with her natural face. Not to mention- taking a break from makeup actually improves your skin! So it’s a win-win.
  • I stopped being envious of other people’s lives. Instead- I refocused my energy on how to improve my own life. When you’re too busy looking at other people’s grass in their yards, you fail to water your own.
  • I stopped trying to impress people. I learned that if you’re flashy and try to impress others with clothes, jewelry, status, cars, etc- you only attract the shallow. Because if you think about it, only people who value those things highly will be impressed. The ones who value other things in life- like virtue, charity, faith in God, empathy- are the better ones to have on your team. I’ve always been a giving person. I’ve been a part of multiple charities, an advocate of community service, active in the church- but during my practice of self-love is when I kicked it up a notch. I found even more ways to give back. I sold a bunch of my clothes and jewelry and donated it to multiple charities. I created a life that feels good on the inside- not one that just looks good on the outside.

    During this time of self-love, I realized I didn’t need a man to make me happy. I was growing more and more happy with myself and my life that if God decided to introduce me to a man- he would only be an addition to my happiness- not a necessity. So I stopped worrying about finding a partner (something I was worried about post-break up, and just lived my life.)

Now to wrap this post up…

    Once I stopped looking for someone and took a good amount of time to work on myself (2 years, to be specific)- that’s when God blessed me with this one. *deep sigh*

    I’ve literally never met someone so perfect for me. My boyfriend is the poster-child of everything I’ve ever wanted in a man (and much more). Ivy-league educated, hard-working, southern-raised with the utmost respect and manners towards others (everything is ‘yes ma’am’ ‘yes sir’), great cook, cares about the planet (he was an environmental engineering major at Stanford), and not to mention the most thoughtful boyfriend, ever.

    Just as an example, I had a really old iphone that would always die while we were out, so he surprised me with a nude clutch that had a built-in charger on the inside of it. The fact that he pays attention to little details like that shows me how much he really wants to make me happy.

    Another example of how sweet he is, I come from a really strong cultural background. Although I’ve already been in the United States for 10 years now, I still try to practice my culture out here. For example in my culture, after leaving a church service, you’re supposed to “amen” your elders (bow your head down and place your nose on the elder’s hand). This is a sign of respect and greeting for the elder. I explained little cultural things like these to my boyfriend and he does them every time (to my parents and older family). Coming from a different part of the world, and having your partner not only recognize that, but practice cultural traditions towards your family as a sign of understanding and acceptance, is the most heart-felt thing for me. I really can’t fit into one post the countless (material and non-material) things he’s done for me. And he’s been doing these things consistently- not just in the beginning to try to win me over or impress me.

    One of my last and final reasons (I’m including on this post) as to why I love him: he gives me peace of mind. In the past two years that we’ve been dating, I’ve never once caught him up on anything…. you read that right. And I know how sad that is to even give praise to, because loyalty is supposed to be a given in all relationships, but in this current generation I’m finding that loyalty is really rare.

    I point this out because ladies- there is a man out there that’s perfect for you, meets all your standards AND is loyal. Even to my surprise- good guys still do exist. Guys who really cherish you will act right from the jump and never do anything to jeopardize what they have.

    To conclude this post, the reason why I took the time to write about all of this is because I feel that self-love is so important in order to really flourish in a relationship. I’m so in love with the person I am when I’m with him. I laugh more, I’m more social, I’m more giving, I’m more ambitious, more loving. The right person will bring out the best version of yourself and that’s exactly what he’s done for me.

If you’re single and reading this, I hope that it gives you a little hope that good guys still do exist and that you won’t be single forever. I was at a family bbq last month and my aunt told me something that really stuck with me. Her and my uncle have been happily married for over 20 years, so I asked her how she knew he was the one. She said when she was younger, post-break up like me, she was so worried about being alone forever. When she finally stopped looking for “the one” is when the one came to her. She emphasized that: “the one will always be for you, no matter what. You don’t have to go look for it because in the end, what’s for you will always be for you.”

    That really stuck with me. And now that I feel like I’ve met the one, it all makes sense. The reason I wrote this is because if my younger self had read this, I feel like it would’ve saved me a lot of sadness, moping, and attachment to what was bad for me.

    If you took the time to read this post, I hope you enjoyed and/or took something from it!

    What you want exists ladies, don’t settle for anything less. Love yourself first. No one has your back like you ever will. The higher you elevate yourself the higher men have to elevate THEMselves in order to reach you. Be obsessed and comfortable with who you are, and in due time, God will do the rest. 

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