Originally Published in the February Issue 4 of "The Mainsheet"
Remember Valentine’s Day in elementary school? Classroom walls were adorned with red and pink paper hearts. Friends were dressed up in their finest holiday garb with “Be Mine” or “Friends 4 Ever” shirts. And the best part of all had to be the cutesy Valentine cards that you agonized over picking (puppies, princesses or Shrek?) and candy (sweet or sour?) for every classmate: a requirement of inclusion.
Now that I am 18, I understand that Valentine’s Day is not the pink and rosy holiday of my youth. In fact, my friends call Valentine’s Day one of six things:
1) Singles Awareness Day (SAD): A day dedicated to those not in a romantic relationship (usually celebrated in spite of Valentine’s Day).
2) Galentine’s Day: A day for lady friends to come together, leave their boyfriends at home, and go out for a fabulous breakfast or brunch.
3) “A fake wannabe holiday created by the greeting card industry”: A day for those to feel bitter, alone and resentful.
4) Feast of the Valentine: A day for religious love.
5) Forever Alone Day: A day where people get the biggest box of chocolates they can find, turn on their Netflix cue, and gorge on chocolate while binge-watching as many rom coms as possible before falling asleep due to a chocolate-induced coma.
6) Valentine’s Day: A day where a person and their significant other get to love all over each other.
That’s a lot of names for one holiday!
Valentine’s Day stirs up a lot of emotions in many people. Not surprisingly, the commercial greeting card industry starts to create expectations for what the “perfect” Valentine’s Day looks like when we are really young: sweet, romantic cards, big teddy bears, red roses by the dozen, boxes of chocolates, and boom boxes blasting Michael Buble from below your second-story window. That’s what “romance” and “love” is packaged to be.
We know it’s garbage, and yet, we are disappointed when Valentine’s Day rolls around and we feel excluded from love because we don’t have a significant other, or our Valentine’s Day doesn’t live up to the hype.
There isn’t one definition of love, so why does there have to be one “perfect” definition of Valentine’s Day? Some people were planning to see 50 Shades of Grey on Valentine’s Day.
Others were going to be experiencing 50 Shades of Neigh at the horse barn. Some people will experience 50 Shades of Cray with an off-the-rocker significant other.
Who’s to say what’s better? Hallmark shouldn’t be able to dictate our expectations or make us feel that we are inadequate because our Valentine’s Day does not include red roses and declarations of love.
Valentine’s Day makes some people feel sad, lonely or unloved because of a lack of romantic love. Don’t give Valentine’s Day that power.
Instead of thinking that Valentine’s Day is about finding someone to love you, choose to love yourself.
If you think you’re hot and awesome, make Valentine’s Day the day of you. Valentine’s Day should be about self-love, about celebrating your love for yourself and then others.
The fact is that not everyone is going to get an oversized teddy bear and a sunset dinner in Malibu, and that’s OK because you don’t need a Prince or Princess Charming to rescue you. Would that be nice? OF COURSE! But you also know you are strong and confident, capable and kind, and you can validate yourself.
I would like to think that Valentine’s Day is about spreading the love. It’s about being thankful for the love I have in my life. It’s about inclusion and kindness, not about someone bringing you chocolates and roses.
It’s about genuine affection and care. It’s telling someone you care about them. It’s about celebrating your awesome friends, the love your family has given you, and maybe eventually a romantic partner.
Get rid of your unrealistic expectations. Don’t feel less than because you are single. Don’t hold your romantic partner to ridiculous fantasies. Valentine’s Day is only one day out of a whole year...and should be filled with real love and connection.
So I hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day or Single Awareness Day filled with 50 shades of whatever you please.