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Cosmo Short Stories: Author Anmol Malik Tells a Tale of Love, Loss and Longing

There is no one, true definition of what qualifies as loving oneself as one ought to. So, we asked the author of Three Impossible Wishes to give us her version of what all self-love could mean, through a short story.

 

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How to Fall In Love


By Anmol Malik 
Author of Three Impossible Wishes

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Someone anonymous confesses: “I have been told I am a terrible girlfriend. The problem isn’t how I behave in the relationship. When I’m in one, I am usually a dream. Your
standard, spineless doormat. It is what I end up doing, which turns out to be rather unexpected of doormats—I ghost. Poof. Disappear without a trace.
I may have spent years with this person, but now they’ll never be able to reach me. It’s not something I’m proud of, but in my pedestrian existence, this is somewhat of a ‘talent’. The rest of my life has always been average, at best.
They say no man is an island, but, blessedly, I am a woman and a bloody good island. It’s because I am afraid I haven’t fully learnt to appreciate my friends and family yet. For starters, friendships are just bothersome to be honest. They come with too many problems you’re expected to solve and no instruction manual. And for the main course, it’s truly exhausting speaking to family. In the 15-minute weekly phone sessions, there’s advice per square foot of the conversation. Advice that usually involves work. Like right now, when I find myself staring at a wall of dog food at the grocery store, wondering why the hell would I even want a dog? Just because my mom decided that getting a pooping, weeing hairball of a pet would magically make me more loving. While my sister announced that I should make a card for grandma’s 88th birthday.
Apparently, the act of doing a kind gesture will thaw my frozen heart. But let’s be practical, at 88, you’re just trying to breathe without cracking a few bones. I doubt very much she’ll appreciate the mosaic motifs I will (not) draw for her.

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Apparently, that’s the problem, that I don’t know how to love anyone or anything.
It’s not like I don’t try. I’ve bought enough self-love books, read all the blogs, and bought into all the scammy Spa-Date-With-Yourself packages that were humanly possible. They said, ‘Exercise to decrease feelings of worthlessness’. So I did. It decreased my butt but not my bills, which was the real problem to begin with. And meditation is hell if you’re a sh*t person. Because closing your eyes in silence will only play out your worst moments in surround sound HD. Eventually, on my nightstand, there’s a pet goldfish swilling in its filth in a glass bowl, because do remember I did tell you I was a spineless doormat. Tiny pathetic thing (the goldfish this time, not me) only needs a little bit of fish food, and conveniently goes belly up to let you know when it’s no longer alive. Very hassle-free. I’m not capable of any more responsibility because I’m total scum. And no amount of adopted plants and throwing bath bombs at the universe would actually make me love anything. 
But I wanted to fall in love with something, anything, so desperately...that one day, I did. It was with this brand new person I glimpsed at totally unexpectedly. Perhaps it was the freckles across their nose, the way their eyes lied about being black but were actually a lovely, deep, warm brown with flecks of honey. The way their nose crinkled when they laughed. The more I loved it, the more the laughs increased, and the more I noticed, not a single flaw. Only the good things.
And that’s when I figured it out, quite on my own, that I couldn’t love things, places, or people if I didn’t love me.
Because the truth is, self-love is one thing. Actually falling in love with yourself is quite another.
It’s a slow, painful process and it can happen quite suddenly...or never. But if it does, that’s when everyone and everything begins to look brighter.”


“Apparently, that’s the problem...that I don’t know how to love anyone or anything. It’s not like I don’t try. I’ve bought enough self-help books.”