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I was 16. All of my friends had a Valentine that year. Fed up with all of the couples around me in the hallways, I decided enough was enough. I was going to have the Valentine’s Day I’d dreamed of, even if I had to do it alone. I drove myself to the movies, got one ticket, a cinnamon pretzel, and an Icee. I headed in, and while I can’t remember what movie I watched, I do remember wondering why I had been so scared to go alone in the first place.

From then on, on Valentine’s Day, I stopped relying on my friends and started to do things by myself. The year after, I went to another movie, hit up the Dutch Bros. drive-thru, and had the best Taylor Swift jam session/drive of my life. The year following, I even grew the guts to take myself to dinner. I also made sure I treated myself to chocolate or flowers or anything cheesy. I found serenity, peace, and something so empowering about my newfound tradition. 

A lot of talk exists about how it’s okay to spend Valentine’s Day alone. We’re given a list of self-care activities, we all stack up on wine and chocolate. And we’ve all sat down on the couch for the anti-romance comedy. I love this routine. It’s fun. It’s therapeutic. It also happens to be something I do at least once a week.

Over the years, however, I learned that it didn’t have to be one or the other. Being single doesn’t mean I had to stay home or that I needed friends to have the Valentine’s (or Galentine’s) Day I wanted. I simply needed to change my perception a little bit.

The idea we hold of self-love is one where we, again, give ourselves this space for movies and face masks and pints of ice cream and green juice and going to the gym. Personally, these are some of my favorite things. I love these things. But they are not why I love myself. I love myself because of the many times I stayed up overthinking until 3 a.m. and because of every morning where I dreaded the day so much that I couldn’t get up and because of every time I forgot to eat breakfast. Learning to understand these nuisances as a part of life and not a representation of my failures helped me learn to truly love myself.

I’ve never had a Valentine. To me, that means Valentine’s Day has always been a reminder of being single. The truth is, that used to really bother me. Then, I realized that I wasn’t the only one and that the only thing stopping me from doing the things I wanted to do on Valentine’s Day, was me.

It is not easy to drive yourself to the movies alone. It’s not. It’s also not easy to learn to fully, unconditionally love yourself. It’s easy to think people will judge you and it’s easy to point out all of the reasons why you don’t love yourself. These things are all easier said than done. The thing is, though, it is not fair to yourself to wait for someone else to love you in order for you to do it too. 

This Valentine’s Day, leave your comfort zone and take yourself out on a date. While it’s easy to be scared at the thought, it is honestly a very gratifying, empowering experience.

Ella Salazar

CU Boulder '23

Ella is the Director of Social Branding at Her Campus CU Boulder. She is majoring in international affairs with minors in journalism and communications. She loves books, makeup, and coffee. In her free time, she's probably rewatching Gilmore Girls.
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