Carly: Taking up space means defiantly showing that we should be here.
Najma: It’s owning who you are and being proud of how you look.
Lev: It helps me have a sense of balance. Because I see my life as like a giant puzzle.
And there’s all these different pieces. And if my social domain and relationship / friendship domain is out the window, then it breaks my entire picture.
Carly: I think it’s really important not to just limit your perception of healthy relationships to romance, it also means friendships, and it means like treating people with respect, and kindness and love and confidentiality and sensitivity. In all relationships.
Najma: Especially during a pandemic, I think it’s important to be kind to yourself and to reach out when you need to – talk to friends and family and to be okay, with not being okay.
Tigist: Healthy, or the preferred term that I like to use is helpful relationships, are really important because they create a sense of belonging, a sense of identity, but also are important to our physical health and to our mental health as well.
Lev: For me, healthy relationships are ones where I can be myself fully, be seen for who I am, and knowing that I have a safe non-judgement, non-judgmental space to be vulnerable.
Tigist: It’s really important that there is a sense of self in a relationship.
And often when we are looking at what are unhelpful relationships, one of the key indicators is often the lack of sense of self.
Lev: We can only meet other people where we have met ourselves first. And like, I guess, in terms of self-love, if we can’t really love ourselves, and like, then like, how can we
expect other people to love us in a way, that’s what I’ve learned.
Carly: Something that’s positively influenced my relationship with myself has been identifying as disabled. For a long time I didn’t because I didn’t know anyone else with the skin condition I have with Ichthyosis. And I also didn’t think that it was a disability because I only saw disability in certain ways. Just having that sense of self, sense of pride, to be able to talk about things and articulate what I needed was really important.
Najma: Setting boundaries and making sure that I take care of myself because when I take care of myself, I can take care of other people.
Carly: Go and meet other people in the disability community. You don’t necessarily have to be friends with everyone but just to see that you have a commonality and are supported is a really good thing.
Tigist: We need to be able to deal with ways of not necessarily always agreeing. How do you argue? What’s the best way to argue? If you are finding that it’s a bit difficult, talk about it.
Relationships are going to be happening for us all the time. And normalising this is part of the ways in which we can have long lasting ones.
Najma: I think we all struggle with relationships and it’s going to be something that we continue to struggle with throughout our lives.
So, have a great relationship with yourself first and foremost, and also be open to new things and new ways of approaching situations.