Back in grade school, Valentine’s Day was probably my favorite holiday to celebrate in class. This was never due to the fact that I actually had a valentine to call my own, but rather that I enjoyed the fuss that surrounded the day. I loved any excuse to buy little gifts for all my classmates and friends, went massively overboard on the pink and red clothing theme, and baked cakes at home with my parents while “Hooked On A Feeling” blasted from the speakers in the background.
As the years go by, however, I have not only grown but also entered the dating pool myself (and entered a long-distance relationship—yikes!), finding the childlike wonder of the romantic season quite fickle.
So why do we even have such grand expectations for yet another overly-commercialized holiday? Is it the constant advertising we see in shopping centers and social media? Is it all of the blockbuster romance movies where the leads start off hating each other, but ultimately end up getting married on the beach?
Most likely, all of the above.
The first year after moving away from home was the hardest. I missed my partner and I missed my friends and I missed buying discount day-after-Valentine’s-Day chocolates from Walgreens with my sister. I tried so hard to make the best out of the day, dressing in a soft pink scarf and weaving small flower clips into my hair. Anything to make it feel normal.
So then, of course, the inevitable happened. My girlfriend lost connection during our facetime call. The flowers I sent her were delivered to the wrong address. I was forced to spend most of the day catching up on homework. Everything I had dreaded was coming true, and it seemed like all hope was lost for my previously sacred holiday.
For about a year now—despite the other tasking worries of the world—I’ve been silently dreading Valentine’s Day. I figured it would just be a repeat of what I had classified as last year’s crushed expectations. But as I look back, I see that through the dread and disappointment there were nuggets of joy. That same night that had previously seemed so hopeless ended up turning into one of my roommates and I’s pivotal bonding moments. She single and I away from my partner, we ended up spending the holiday together with a box of cupcakes and a viewing of When Harry Met Sally. She reassured me that I could still enjoy a holiday made for lovers without mine present. It’s one of the fondest memories I have of us together, and we truly became a million times closer that night. I learned a lesson in changing plans. Not every detail might play out the way you envisioned it, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a total loss.
This year, I’ve got reservations with my housemates to get dressed up and grab dinner together a day before the 14th. I’ve already sent out my girlfriend’s gift—this time with rush shipping, guaranteed to arrive on time. I’ve got My Bloody Valentine and Pretty In Pink queued up as a backup plan. After living through some of the most life-altering circumstances this past year, I’ve become quite familiar with ‘unprecedented times’ and changes in one’s plan. I’m adaptable and I’m surrounded by love. There’s not much else you really need!