Hi there @Cora
First of all, it’s lovely to hear from you again!
I’m so pleased to hear that 2024 is becoming a bit more manageable for you, even if it doesn’t look how you envisaged it. The fact you are able to adapt through these tough times, and reveal how you feel through artwork like the amazing piece you showed us is amazing.
In this world, physical touch has become scarce. Long distance relationships have become more of a common thing. Your doodle speaks what so many people long for, and that is physical touch and intimacy. It’s human nature to crave affection and be thankful towards those who play a big part in our lives. Luca seems like an absolute gem, and you are so lucky to have them in your life as a friend.
Putting on a facade or a mask, is something we’ve all done at some point, and it’s because as you say, you don’t want to be seen as vulnerable or different to others. However I am here to say that you don’t need to “fit in”, instead you should be the one that stands out from the crowd. There’s so much pressure these days for people to fit in, but what does that actually look like? Why should we fit in? Authenticity is a gift, not a burden.
Self acceptance and embracing your love language is key, but it seems you are already on that journey. You are somebody who knows what they want and that is courageous. Finding people who can relate or have similar love language to you can be hard, but there are people out there who will love you just for you are, quirks included.
Perhaps, slowly but surely, you can start by sharing bits of your true self with those you trust. Start with small gestures of affection, like a genuine smile or a warm handshake. Surround yourself with understanding and supportive individuals who appreciate you for the unique person you are.
As I said, authenticity doesn’t mean sticking to the rules of society. Stand out, be proud and do things that challenge norms. Authenticity means living by way of your own truth, and living up to your values - think of what sort of things drive your behaviour and form your beliefs. When you do this, you may surprise yourself.
Keep being you, and don’t worry about what others say