As someone who found themselves perpetually single every year back in high school, Valentine’s Day used to be my least favorite holiday. I would always join forces with whoever was single in my friend group at the time to complain about Valentine’s season, joke about how it was invented by Hallmark to sell cards, and (with all the love in the world) make fun of anyone in the group who happened to be in a relationship. My freshman year at Drexel, I ended up making a “happy singles appreciation day” card during a card-making activity at a club meeting. My longtime best friend’s birthday also happens to be February 14, so you can imagine which day I would rather go out of my way to celebrate.
Looking back at my anti-Valentine’s Day beliefs now, I can acknowledge that my behavior might not have been the most reasonable. Sure, the jokes my friends and I made were all in good fun, but we were more or less taking out our insecurities about not being able to celebrate romantic relationships of our own. While doing that, we were completely forgetting that there are so many different kinds of relationships that aren’t romantic, and they all deserve to be acknowledged in some way. This past weekend, I went out of my way to celebrate the most important relationship — the one I have with myself.
Because it’s such a big deal in our culture, Valentine’s Day has a tendency to make some people feel left out or even uncomfortable. You might be single (ready to mingle or not), recovering from a painful breakup, or trying to escape a toxic relationship that you’d rather not celebrate. That’s why putting yourself first is so important.
Taking a day to cultivate some self-love leads to self-empowerment which, in turn, builds up your confidence even if it’s just for a short period of time. That confidence, built up over time, can lead to your physical health improving as you stress less about what other people think of you, strengthen your relationships as you communicate more easily, and achieve your goals quicker as you start to believe in yourself and take bigger steps to get things done. Plus, why pass up on an opportunity to treat yourself?
I’ve also been noticing myself going all out with the holidays lately. I don’t know whether it’s just because we’ve been forced to tone everything down during an ongoing international health crisis, but I’ve been celebrating each holiday to the fullest extent — from doing full-on alien makeup on Halloween despite just going to a friend’s apartment for the night, to popping champagne and staying up way too late eating store-bought hors d’oeuvres with my parents on New Year’s Eve. Even as the world starts to open up a little bit, I like finding ways to make each holiday more meaningful than usual, so I figured I had no excuse but to keep going.
Here are some ways I celebrated Valentine’s Day for myself this year:
DRESSED UP FOR MYSELF – I took the time to put on something that made me feel confident, experimented with some creative makeup, and had a mini photoshoot with one of my best friends.
GOT MY STEPS IN – I visited my favorite parts of my neighborhood, got a chai latte, and enjoyed the few hours out of the day when it wasn’t below freezing. Ever since everything went online, I’ve been getting a lot fewer steps in every day, so this was just one of the ways I’m trying to spend more time being active (It was also Sunday, so I wouldn’t have had any excuses anyway).
MADE SOME ART – one of my resolutions for 2021 was to fill up at least half of my sketchbook and having a day to myself helped me push towards that goal. It’s also been proven that making art can raise serotonin levels and reduce cortisol (stress hormone levels), and I personally love getting that surge of satisfaction after I’ve finished a project, whether it’s a sketch or a full-out painting.
INDULGED IN A HOMEMADE MEAL – cooking myself a meal that’s actually nourishing instead of just popping something in the microwave is my definition of self-love. My friend and I also baked some chocolate chip blondies that I ended up bringing into my internship and sharing with people around me.
GOT WORK OUT OF THE WAY BEFOREHAND – I made sure I was getting all my co-op assignments, grocery trips, and miscellaneous responsibilities over and done with so that I could focus on having an amazing day without the nagging stress of unfinished work hanging over my head.
APPRECIATED THE RELATIONSHIPS I HAVE FORMED OVER THE YEARS – I made myself reach out to family members, old friends from high school, and new friends from college and wish them a happy Valentine’s Day (Yes, even the ones posting an unnecessary amount of couple photos). Seeing as I’m currently living alone, it does get difficult when I don’t always get the chance to have in-person interactions as much as I’d like to, so I want to make myself and everyone around me feel less lonely and more appreciated.
I obviously don’t see myself staying single for the rest of my life. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be comfortable in my own skin as a single woman, and that means taking the time to celebrate myself first and foremost. Even though Valentine’s Day will never be my favorite holiday, I’m still making an effort to change my old mindset about it — that it doesn’t just have to be a day devoted exclusively to romantic relationships, but can also be used to cultivate some self-love and share that love with everyone in your life. That’s what I ended up doing, and I think it’ll make me happy if I keep it going in the future.
So instead of giving the death stare to anything that’s pink and heart-shaped while scrolling through Hinge, you can find me dressing up for no one but myself and eating some quality dessert next year.