The pinkest holiday of the year is right around the corner, and like every year, with it comes that half of the population ready and eager to pop the metaphorical heart–shaped bubble. You know the type: the ones who throw “Anti-Valentine’s Day” parties, who make a big show of wearing all black the entire day or who sarcastically tell you they have a hot date night with their Netflix account and a double pint of ice cream. Unsurprisingly, after about the 18th Facebook status lamenting “Singles Awareness Day,” the bitter self–pity gets a little old.
News flash: There's nothing wrong with Valentine's Day. No, really. There really is nothing wrong with people who love each other wanting to spend a day celebrating that relationship. But I’ll admit there is something wrong with the way we view Valentine’s Day. And that “we” encompasses every person along the relationship spectrum from ultimate cat lady to the stil–hopelessly–infatuated girlfriend of three years. We all propagate the problem.
Last year during the week before Valentine's Day four of my closest friends, who all happened to be single, completely lost it. It wasn’t even in the joking way. One told me she had a heavy pit in her stomach knowing Valentine's Day was coming up, while another continued to snarkily ask me about my plans for the holiday. Another made degrading comments about herself any time Valentine’s Day was mentioned in conversation, while the fourth just shrugged and told me she didn't care before staring off into the distance for a good, long while.
I’ll be completely honest: It physically hurt me to see them that way. To be so actively wallowing in that grayish blue self-loathing, telling me they had nothing to celebrate and nobody to celebrate with. Telling me, either directly or indirectly, that they felt nobody loved them. From my point of view, as a person pretty terribly in love with these four girls, I just couldn't understand it.
Valentine's Day is about celebrating the love present in your life – in all its forms, not just romantic. Take a step back and really think: Does making you single really mean nobody loves you? Of course not. That's absolutely ridiculous. Not only are there so many people in your life, but there are so many people in your life who genuinely care about you, from friends and family to PAs and CAs. It's actually wild how much love is present in any one individual's life.
So then why is Valentine's Day, a day dedicated to celebrating people who love each other, so often viewed as something awful and degrading and empty by half the population? And why do four of the people I love most in my life think they fall into this category of “unloved” and “unwanted”?
Here’s a paradigm shift for you: What if we made Valentine’s Day less about agonizing over whether or not you have a significant other and more about acknowledging just how many amazing people you have in your life?
Two action items for the single, the committed or anyone in between: First, stop pitying yourself. Don’t make me go Tumblr on your ass and have to remind you how fucking beautiful you are and all that (which, by the way, is true). You know it’s ridiculous to be miserable over just happening not to have a boyfriend or girlfriend on a particular day, and you know it’s alarmingly untrue to say nobody loves you in your life.
Secondly, put that love to action. Don’t just sit there and wallow for the sake of wallowing. You want someone to tell you they love you on Valentine’s Day? Then you better get your butt out there and start telling people yourself, too. Tell your parents, your roommates, your childhood best friend you haven’t talked to in forever but who you know is always there for you when you need it. If we want Valentine’s Day to be something everyone can enjoy, then we gotta get at it.
And that goes for people in relationships, too. When you’re thinking about how to celebrate this day, don’t just think of the warm fuzzies your significant other gives you: Also remember your sorority sisters who carry your drunken ass home through the polar vortex at 3 a.m. every Friday night and your roommate who calls you when he’s at the grocery story to check if you need anything. These people deserve to know how much you appreciate them, too.
For me, that meant staying up into the late hours of the night the day before Valentine’s Day to write long, personal, handmade cards for each of those four friends. Before leaving for my date the next evening, I secretly delivered the cards to each girl’s dorm room, leaving them atop her bed with half a dozen roses to discover when she got home. They deserve to know that someone is thinking of them, that there is someone who cares.
Love is never a bad thing, and it's certainly not something that anybody should ever agonize over. You are loved, you silly goose – don’t even pretend you don’t know that. Now get out there and spread it.