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Sex + Relationships

Taking Back Valentine’s Day

So, I’m sitting in the dining hall on campus with my closest girlfriends, mulling over whether or not I should get (another) dessert, when an all-too-familiar conversation begins. “I’m really just dreading Valentine’s Day, ya know,” my roommate says, with a mouth full of french fries but an obviously empty romantic palate. Her statement isn’t met by immediate rebuttals, but by a chorus of “yeah’s,” “me too’s” and “RT girlfriend’s.”

I’ll be the first to admit I’m more excited by the prospect of half-priced candy on February 15th than Valentine’s Day itself, but it was rather saddening to see my friends so anxiety ridden over their terrible “plight” of singleness. My friends, like many women, are strong, smart, kind and go-getting. Their repertoires of strength and skills go on and on, yet they still feel unfulfilled by the lack of a sweetheart on Valentine’s Day. What is it about this made-up holiday that has the power to cause these feelings of inadequacy?

The tricky thing about Valentine’s Day is that, in this era, it combines being in a relationship with the megaphone that is social media. Before the days of the FBI peeking through your camera (jokes) (well, maybe), not being in a relationship on Valentine’s Day just meant that you simply didn’t have a Valentine. You might have felt a tinge of sadness when you saw happy couples right in front of you. But that would only happen when you went out. Now, relationships are paraded around 24/7 for all eyes to see. Instagram on Valentine’s Day is a swarm of chocolate hearts, bouquets of flowers and perfectly posed S/O’s all cuddled up in Flipagram, collage and epic saga format. Of course, for someone who is recently single, going through heartbreak, or even perpetually single (yours truly), it’s tough to be barraged by this kind of social media posting for a 24-hour period. Don’t get me wrong, I love happy couples, I even used to be a part of one, believe it or not. But, when everyone is posting about how they’d just absolutely die/ set themselves on fire/ make a blood sacrifice for their significant other, it’s easy to feel like you’re missing out and that maybe you’re even doing something wrong. More like, Happy Singles’ Awareness Day, am I right?

Sadly, you can’t hack social media on V-Day and override the system (I’ve tried). But, you can “hack” your mindset towards this love celebration and think about it in an entirely new light. Somehow Valentine’s Day became pigeon-holed for love in the romantic sense. But anyone with genuine friends, a loving family or loyal pets know that there’s no limit to what love is for. Hell, be your own Valentine, 2018 is alllllllllll about self-love! You can even show love to some strangers who need it most. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, take dogs for a walk at a shelter, make a donation to a charity that touches your heart, give random compliments and do small acts of kindness for anyone you see. Yeah, it means you have to go a little out of your way, but isn’t that what love is? All love is rewarding and fulfilling, not just the romantic kind that society makes us covet so deeply. And, if worse comes to worst, no one said you have to have a front row seat to everyone’s V-Day antics. Practice some self-care and log off. It’s much easier to feel happy when what makes you feel inadequate isn’t right in front of your face.

A “single” Valentine’s Day is not something to be feared. I’ll even go as far as to say that it is something to be enjoyed. You can take a day to focus on all of the other kinds of love that make this life so sweet. Most importantly, a box of gourmet chocolate covered strawberries is $30 and a pink Valentine’s plush octopus from Walmart is $10. Maximize this Valentine’s Day, treat yourself. 

 

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