My appreciation for Valentine’s Day started in Kindergarten with a box of The Lion King-themed cards and just enough glitter, pink things, and baked goods to make me so happy that I was practically sick.
I know what you’re thinking, but you’ve got it all wrong. I was single then -- a 5-year-old independent woman who didn’t need a man sitting beside her during story time just to feel special. Did I set aside a sophisticated but romantic Simba and Nala card for a dashing classmate in hopes of inspiring a romance? I absolutely did, but when he failed to identify its significance, I wasn't defeated. All that mattered was that there was sharing, celebrating, and all the excitement of a special occasion. I felt the love.
You might recall half a dozen similar happy Valentine’s Days, all leading up to junior high, when everything changed. There were no Disney-themed cards in your locker, and your acne flared up just in time for the Saturday night dance, morphing you into a heartbroken wallflower during all those KC & JoJo songs. It was then that you grew cynical, defensive, and full of hate for that one day a year when the whole world works to make sure that if you’re alone, you’re also lonely.
The truth is, you don’t hate Valentine’s Day. You hate not having a plus-one to take to your cousin's wedding. You hate loveseats, awkward meetings via dating websites, Ryan Gosling movies, and that reoccurring nightmare about your ex-boyfriend meeting some super-hot yoga instructor and proposing to her on your birthday.
Don’t let that hate take over. The first step to recovery is acceptance, so this year, let go of the past, and consider the following suggestions for spending your Valentine's Day solo. You might be surprised by the power of love, if you only give it a chance.
Treat Yourself. Feb. 14 is as good a day as any to finally reward yourself for being so...you. Buy something you've wanted for a while, treat yourself to a nice meal, or just set a few hours aside to take a nap. You can and should do these things whenever possible, but if you tend to feel guilty about indulging, Valentine’s Day can serve as the perfect excuse to let yourself off the hook.
Give Love. Think about the people and things you love in your life and do something nice for them. Send cards to your family, make dinner for your best friends, volunteer somewhere, or donate to a cause you believe in. If nothing else, call an important someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time, just to say hello. (No, not your ex-boyfriend; he’s with the yoga instructor now.) Brightening someone else’s day is an easy way to brighten your own, so don’t hold back.
Take a Break from the Internet. If you want to avoid feeling sorry for yourself, mind your own business. Instead of being consumed by jealousy while reading about the life and love of friends (and near-strangers) who appear to be having more fun than you, make the effort to avoid social media for the day. If you can distance yourself from the business of others, you’ll have an easier time focusing on yourself. Instead of reading tweets and browsing pictures, read a book, work on an important project, get some exercise, or do something else that will make you feel good about yourself. Forget jealousy, let go of hostilities, and be good to yourself and those around you.
Meet Someone. If attention from yourself just isn't enough, get attention from others. It sounds a little cheap, but let's be honest: If you truly want to meet someone new, staying in and watching The Notebook isn't going to help you. Meeting new people is exciting, but you have to be willing to go out and get what you want. Attend a singles event, or just head out to a social place and let loose. At the very least, it will remind you that you're not alone in being alone on Valentine's Day.
Party Like It’s 1999. The details of the festivities change, but partying knows no age, so channel your inner middle schooler and get back to the basics -- I’m talking themed cards, candy hearts, and boy band music. The main reason Valentine’s Day was so great when we were young was taking time out of the school day to relax, have fun, and party, so take time to celebrate at the office, around your campus, or out and about in the city (preferably by eating some candy and passing out cheesy cards). If you stay positive and enjoy the simple things, you might find it’s all you really need.
How do you recommend spending your Valentine's Day without a date?
Photo by MNicoleM (Flickr)
About Alison -- I am a recent Emmanuel College graduate who loves creative writing, cheeseburgers, travel, car radio sing-a-longs, and Armenian line dancing down the hallway when no one is watching. I'm not sure what I'm up to next year or next month, but I plan on having fun for the rest of my life. Twitter: @AlisonAmorello
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