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Photo of a "Love" sign
Photo of a "Love" sign
Rebecca Karlous
Sex + Relationships

Why I Won’t Be Celebrating “Single’s Awareness Day” This Year

Valentine’s Day has always been my favorite holiday. In grade school, it was simple, cute, and predictable. Everyone would walk around the classroom and place a lollipop in the paper bags we’d decorated the day before. The most controversial thing that happened was a Snickers bar making its way to the kid who was allergic to peanuts. For 14 years of my life, it was a cheesy, exciting time to eat candy, and draw hearts on all my assignments. 

When I entered high school, the dynamic shifted. My peers would send gifts to their boyfriends and girlfriends or present a single rose (bought by their parents, of course) to their crushes. Still, at its core, Valentine’s Day was silly to me. We were kids. Getting romantically involved with another person seemed premature. I’ll wait until at least junior year, I told myself. 

Two years passed and I was entrenched in the horror that was AP Biology and the SAT. Yet again, Valentine’s Day rolled around. The only difference now was that I was a couple years older and now involved in the a capella choir at my high school. This year, I spent the holiday singing love songs in classrooms as part of the singing telegraph program. It can wait. College is just around the corner. 

A global pandemic, new president, and finally in college, Valentine’s Day rolls around yet again. Now, though, I have nothing to tell myself. I could wait for 21, or grad school, or a steady job, but it doesn’t change my reality — I’m entering my twenties having never been on a date.

Most people would quickly run to my defense, saying “It’s okay to be single!” and “the right person will come with time!” I know it’s okay to be single. In the grand scheme of things, I’ve barely entered the acceptable time period to date. I also understand that a lot of people choose to be single and that it works for them. As I try to remind myself that I’m going to college to prepare for my future, I can’t help but feel like there’s a huge something I’m missing, though.

Even popular culture has an opinion on my relationship status. Romance films and cheesy tv shows almost always take a stance on dating. Often, the main character, a belle in her twenties, finds herself saddened by her single status, as she spends yet another Valentine’s Day alone while her friends lavish in gifts and romantic dinners. By the end of the film, she has either: (a) found contentment in her solitude or (b) somehow managed to “cure” her singleness after spilling coffee all over an admirer at the cafe down the street. Realistically, many single people — who are looking for a romantic partnership — spend the Hallmark holiday curled up at home, having disappointedly accepted yet another year without a significant other. 

I am one of these people. I am single. I have always been single. Not by choice. Rather, by circumstance. I’ve tried justifying it by saying my expectations are too high. Entering my 20’s having never experienced the “first love” glamorized by society has taken a toll on my self-worth. I can’t help but constantly ward off self-deprecating thoughts. Internally, I want to scream at myself and beg for answers. What’s wrong with me? Am I not enough? 

On the outside, my ongoing relationship status has become something I laugh about with my friends. While many of us joke about our loneliness with friends, though, people from around the globe have taken the opportunity to give Valentine’s a new purpose.

“Galentine’s Day” is just one example of this. Popularized by the sitcom Parks and Recreation, this event has developed in part as a reclamation of the holiday; instead of expensive dinners with a partner, ladies and their friends, both single and taken, gather to celebrate friendship. In a 2010 episode of the show, Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) presents seven of her friends with crocheted flower pens, hand-made portraits of them and 5000-word essays of their importance. The episode sparked a movement of “ladies celebrating ladies,” which has quickly transformed into a celebration of friendship for many people, regardless of gender. 

Even “Single’s Awareness Day” popped up in the early 2000’s, which now has largely grown into a meme by Generation Z.

Last year, I decided to participate in the trend. I took myself to a local Urth Caffe and treated myself to my favorite Panini and a mini cheesecake. I brought the food home and enjoyed it while watching an episode of my favorite show. I thought I was reclaiming the holiday for myself. So many posts from influencers celebrating their singleness prompted me to do the same. In reality, I was trying to ignore my true feelings of isolation. My best friend was on a date with her boyfriend, and my other single friends had no interest in the holiday. I thought I was content at the end of the day, but entirely failed to realize the effect another year of singleness had on my self-worth. A year later, I’m just starting to come to terms with these feelings. Instinctively, I convinced myself that my sadness should be suppressed. Looking back, this is exactly what happened when I decided to “reclaim” Valentine’s Day. 

What I now realize is that attempts by social media platforms to reclaim Valentine’s Day as empowerment for single people neglects to acknowledge the anxieties felt by many young people who enter the month of February alone. Many experience feelings of isolation and rejection when they don’t get any form of validation by a potential romantic interest. Personalized gifts from close friends may help bridge the gap, but do not replace the feelings of sadness that accompany solitude. As we enter college and adulthood rears its face, the expectation of finding a partner only grows. More and more of the people we surround ourselves with have worst date stories, opinions about their exes, and sex advice. While we often tell ourselves the only thoughts that matter are our own, it’s okay to want affirmations from another person. Life isn’t meant to be spent alone. 

Going forward, I’ve accepted my feelings of isolation. I hope other single people understand that it’s okay to be lonely, not only when boxes of chocolate and roses are being handed out, but during any season of the year. There is no shame in being single. But, there is also no shame in wanting to be a part of something new.

At the end of the day, my love life is the least interesting thing about myself, and it doesn’t make me unique. There are likely more people than not spending February 14th the same way I will — sitting in bed watching 50 First Dates (2004) for the hundredth time. This year, my relationship status will be neither a sob story nor a thriller. Instead, I will warmly embrace the sitcom my life has become. I don’t need to celebrate or be ashamed of my singleness. Quite simply, it’s a part of me that doesn’t need a holiday. This year, I’ll spend both Valentine’s Day and Single’s Awareness Day just doing the things I love.

Faith Nicoll

UC Irvine '25

Hi! My name is Faith and I am a first year studying Business Administration at UCI. In my free time, I love painting in the park, singing, and reading Jane Austen or the Brontë Sisters. On the weekends, you can find me exploring local culture and going on hikes with my roommate.
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