The idea of Valentine’s Day has always filled me with dread, regardless of whether I was in a relationship or if I was single. If I was in a relationship, there was always this expectation and pressure to express my love to my significant other through acts of kindness or gift giving. If I was single, the day only reminded me of how I did not have a significant other to love and feel loved by, which created a deep sense of loneliness and despair. This loneliness was made worse when I would try to make plans with friends, only to discover that they were all busy spending the day with their loved ones or on dates. It was a bittersweet feeling to have.
This year, things will be different. There will be no more time and energy spent frantically filling in a void by actively attempting to go on dates with people that I have no genuine interest or connection with. And there will be no more self-pity days where I cry over romantic comedy movies while consuming a large tub of ice cream—talk about cliché.
Instead, I have chosen to spend Valentine’s Day joyfully single and alone. And by alone, I mean alone in embracing the idea that I am single and I love it. I do not need a partner to validate who I am, and I refuse to spend another Valentine’s Day feeling sorry for myself, thinking that I must be unlovable because I’m still single. I will love myself and everything that I encompass, including all my character defects that make me so imperfectly me. By making this conscious choice to celebrate this day by investing in myself, I am able to build a strong, loving relationship with who I am and my higher good.
I began asking myself where this insecurity and notion of needing and wanting love came from, and it is predominantly derived from our early childhood conditioning. We have been taught that true love and happiness is something that is outside of us, in other people and material possessions. True love looks like a weekend getaway in Paris with your partner, a five-bedroom house in Beverly Hills, and a six-figure salary. It is the perfect social circle, the perfect family, and a constant feeling of appreciation. We are, to some degree, all guilty of this belief. And even though these things may bring us some happiness, that happiness is usually quite fleeting and unsustainable. And so we search again for the next adrenaline rush of love and happiness in other people and possessions. We have become addicted to this pattern because it is the only one that we know in Western society.
However, once we begin to look within and invest in ourselves, whether that is through meditation, journaling, music, or therapy — whatever self-care looks like to you — we can then cultivate a sense of authenticity and peace of mind. True love and a deeper appreciation will come when we are in a loving relationship with ourselves. Just like being in a relationship with someone else requires making a commitment to them, you have to make that exact same commitment to yourself every day. You are the only person that holds the key to your heart, and it is up to you to unlock the beauty that lays inside.
Happy Valentine’s Day.