Four years ago, Sophie Tanner, a Brighton-based PR consultant, married herself in a bold statement of self-affirmation. As she renews her sologamy vows this weekend, she shares the experience – and the lessons she’s learnt along the way about self-love
Everyone knows that marriage is about more than one glorious wedding day. I’ve been married to myself for four years now and it’s a continuous journey of discovery. Because self-love is a journey – not a destination. It’s not like you wake up one day and go: “Right, I have reached perfection. What’s next on the list?”
But I must say, being a sologamist is certainly rewarding. I chose to marry myself because I wanted to demonstrate that self-love should be as important as romantic love. I believe that your relationship with yourself deserves as much attention as any other. After all, the more you deal with your own crap, the less other people have to, right? Everyone’s a winner.
Taking vows of self-commitment and promising to be responsible for my own happiness have proven invaluable. If I have a bad day, I often find myself returning to them, telling myself firmly that I must practice what I preach. It is, of course, not always so easy to face your disappointments, accept your failures and embrace your dreams – but I have tried very hard.
And, in a serendipitous turn of events, one of my childhood dreams came true yesterday. My first novel, Reader, I Married Me, was published on the date of my wedding anniversary.
To celebrate, I led a wedding flash mob through the streets of Brighton to the seafront, where we performed a synchronised dance to The Greatest Showman’s This Is Me!
I’ve never done a flash mob before so I thought now was as good a time as any. Then I had a book launch party at Brighton’s vintage clothing store, Beyond Retro, which is a sartorial treasure trove. They have a wonderful array of wedding dresses from all eras and I chose a new, slinkier number, for my vow renewal.
To say the day blew me away is an understatement; I’m still basking in the afterglow. When I married myself four years ago, I was pretty nervous and unsure of the reaction I’d get. And, even then, I had no idea that becoming a sologamist would provoke such controversy.
Since then, I’ve had to answer questions I’d never considered, and have been repeatedly called upon to defend my position. Doing so has only served to strengthen my conviction. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to put my thoughts into a book which will hopefully inspire other people who’re in need of a self-esteem boost. It offers a lighthearted challenge to the traditional romcom narrative that suggests you need “another half” to feel complete.
Yesterday, I was overwhelmed at the amount of people who showed up to rehearse the dance in the upstairs room of a pub. As I opened the door, my friends were all gathered together, drinking G&Ts and grinning excitedly – the ladies looked stunning in beautiful iridescent gowns and the men were suited and booted. We even had dogs and babies in bow ties.
Our incredible Brazilian choreographer , Marta Scott, taught us her sassy moves in just over an hour and at 5pm we piled out onto the street, ready to do our thing. Despite the forecast rain, the sun emerged, casting everything in a beautiful rose gold light. My flash mob and I paraded through the middle of Brighton town centre, blasting out uplifting tunes on my portable Roadjack speaker.
We turned the sound down as we reached the beach and Marta directed us to disperse ourselves amongst the crowds of unaware tourists. Then we started playing This Is Me and our head professional dancer stood on the sidewalk, moving rhythmically to the first few bars of the song and mesmerising passers-by.
Marta expertly beckoned the flash mob onto the sidewalk to join her, one by one, and, by the chorus, we were 40-strong. We moved in time to the beat; hair flying, dresses swirling, feet stamping – like true self love warriors. Everywhere I turned I saw the familiar faces I love so much awash with joy, against a backdrop of sparkling sea.
Crowds gathered to watch us, clapping along and whooping. At the last chorus I did a solo dance then the flash mob circled me and fell to their knees as I punched the air with my bouquet of sunflowers. I gazed up at the bright blue sky, so happy that I’d chosen to mark the occasion with such a powerful dance, and the lyrics resonated so much with me. There will always be haters in this world but yesterday I made no apology – this is me.
By the evening we were all pretty giddy. I gave a speech and tried not to cry as I thanked those in the room who have been such an amazing support. We all have days when we wonder what the hell we’re doing and writing a book can be a very solitary pursuit. There were times when I believed the negative troll rants but it’s been my friends and family who have buoyed me up and kept me going.
I shared the lessons I’ve learned on self love so far. For me, it’s about more than just treating yourself to a hot bath and glass of wine. Here are the four key areas I try to focus on:
• Awareness: I try to pay attention to what’s going on in my mind and body; to acknowledge how I react to my environment and the people around me. After all, we’re always worrying about what everyone else thinks and feels but do we take enough time to consider our own deep-down response? We need to listen to ourselves.
• Acceptance: We’re all going to keep on making mistakes because we’re human but, the way I see it, if you’re at least trying to be a better person then you’re winning. There are some things in life that you can change, and you should if it’ll make a positive difference, but some stuff is totally out of your control – no amount of self-flagellating will change that.
• Compassion: I think that kindness begins with the self. If you’re able to forgive yourself and understand why you do what you do, you’ll have greater empathy for others.
• Gratitude: Life can be so hectic and fast-paced, we’re always chasing the next big thing. I think it’s so important to try and focus on each moment and really want what you already have rather than having what you want. I think it’s important to stop chasing the “happily ever after” and start living the “happily ever NOW”.
And it was with great gratitude that I beckoned my mate, ‘the pope’ onto the stage, resplendent in his maroon robes, to reaffirm my self -ove vows. The crowd applauded as I promised to continue taking care of myself and to be my own best friend. I placed an eternity ring on my finger, It is shaped like an eagle, which is symbolic of honesty and truthful principles.
Today I’m feeling rather groggy after a long night of partying. Still, I can’t stop smiling and am feeling quite emotional as I look through the videos. I’m so glad I renewed my sologamy vows because I don’t regret my decision for a single moment. I have learned that if you believe in yourself then others will, too. And I have realised that if love starts with you, there really is no limit to it; it is a glorious energy that just keeps marching on.
Images: Sophie Tanner