Above picture is an adorable care package sent my mom, which inspired this post.
It’s that time of the year again. That time of the year that some call Single Awareness Day, others call Pay Day for Hallmark, and others still call Valentine’s Day. Gaudy pink, red, and white hearts are displayed in store windows, and chocolate sales increase tremendously (because no matter how little you know about a person, a chocolate is always a good guess). Despite the fact that this holiday was created solely for the purpose of commercialism and card sales, it manages to still hold clout in our society today.
From a young age, both women and men are taught that it is utterly essential to have a significant other on Valentine’s Day. This causes a great deal of loneliness and bitterness come the February season. If you don’t have a significant other, society tells you that you must celebrate your singlehood and act as if, even if you did have a significant other, you would still think the holiday is utterly stupid. More so than any other holiday, Valentine’s Day creates a divide in the population like no other: a divide between the happily coupled and the bitterly single.
We come from a society that tells us to love ourselves, but also enforces the idea that in order to love ourselves we must get validation from others who love us. This idea brings forth the yearly rush prior to Valentine’s Day to find a special someone and settle down (at least until spring comes in and you realize you deserve better).
Every fiber of my body rebels against this idea. The idea that my worth is contingent upon another person seems absolutely ridiculous to me. Maybe it’s because my parent’s relationship gave me impossible standards for what love is, but either way, I have learned to love myself and not settle unless I feel it is right.
That’s not to say, however, that love is not a beautiful and wonderful thing. I’m exceedingly happy for all the young and old lovers that get a chance to celebrate their happiness together every February 14th. However, the trouble comes when societal pressure forces people to think that, just because they do not have a special someone, they have no worth.
Time and time again, I see friends getting into relationships that I can tell are unhealthy for them. Typically, the people who serial date, or date people who are obviously not right for them, are people who suffer from low self-esteem. They do not love themselves enough, and desperately find anyone (and I mean anyone) who will affirm their worth. Although it is immediately satisfying to find someone who loves you, without the discernment to choose a partner wisely, it is possible to end up in messy situations of domestic violence or rape.
What a terrible civilization we live in that teaches us that we must settle for those who are wrong for us merely because we are incomplete without another.
I am calling for a new type of Valentine’s Day. I want a Valentine’s Day where couples can happily celebrate each other, and singletons can happily celebrate no one other than themselves. That’s not to say, however, that in loving yourself you must practice vanity. Self-love is not about putting yourself above others. Rather, self-love should promote an independence that is needed to survive in this world.
For Valentine’s Day, romantic validation is a gift to receive, but greater still is the validation that comes from other outlets: family, friends, work, and (most importantly) yourselves. Take the day to celebrate all the amazing people who have shaped your life. Listen to your favorite music. Get your favorite ice cream. Dance like no one is watching. In the wise words of Tom Haverford, “Treat yo’ self.” This Valentine’s Day, practice self-meditation and revel in the joy of contentment.
Don’t be like Rapunzel, who waits for a prince to climb her hair and rescue her from a life of misery. Instead, find a shard of glass, cut your own hypothetical Rapeunzel-esque hair, tie it to a post, and start rescuing yourself. This Valentine’s Day should be about you. It should be a chance for you to count your blessings and thank all the people in your life who do love you, without a hint of bitter single irony attached to it.