February has been co-opted by the Valentine’s Day People of America so that as soon as the holidays are over, stores everywhere put out their red and pink heart displays and start selling the love to the masses. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course, but at times it almost feels like Valentine’s Day only has value to us if we have a “special someone” to share it with. It is, in other words, a holiday only for people in love. Eff that.
I actually kind of like the idea of Valentine’s Day. It’s great to have a scheduled day to focus on the love in your life. I do, however, balk at the idea that love needs to be directed at a “special someone”. We’re human, our capacity for love is endless and that love can manifest itself in dozens, nay, hundreds of ways.
As someone who has never celebrated Valentine’s Day with a significant other, let me be the first to say that we don’t have to have a love interest, or “bae” as the kids are saying these days, to celebrate - we just need to have love in our hearts (or something cheesy like that). This Valentine’s Day, I want us to take the time to let that love manifest itself. Let’s not feel that if we’re single on Valentine’s Day that this holiday isn’t for us. It is for us, we just have to reframe it:
LOVE YOUR PEOPLE
Love is weird because it’s so idealized. When we think of love we think of romance, and sparks, and companionship, and the idea of being made whole, etc. but the truth is we’re going to love many more people platonically than we will romantically. We have countless family, friends, and even some former flames that we really, truly love, but I bet we can each count on fewer than 10 fingers the people we’ve fallen in love with. That feels important to me.
We should stop being so caught up in this ideal of what love is—the ideal that TV and movies and songs portray—and learn to love the love we have. Let’s use this Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to celebrate the love we share with our loved ones by telling them how we really feel, or by making a gesture of our love for them. It can be something as small as making a phone call to someone who lives across the country or across the world, or it can be something as big as taking your friends or family out to dinner. Whatever it is, let’s use this time to show the people in our lives that we love them.
There is no more important person on this planet to love than ourselves. For a long time, I thought that I’d be happy when I finally met the “girl of my dreams”. That all my problems and insecurities would melt away because this fantastical ideal of a woman would suddenly make things right. I think it’s pretty clear at this point, but that’s not how the game works. It was an unrealistic expectation and incredibly unfair to her, whoever she may have been.
What I learned was no one is going to magically appear in my life to fix me. I had to fix myself. That meant taking better care of myself, both physically and mentally, and learning to really appreciate who I am. It became painfully obvious that until I was able to be happy with myself—hanging out with myself, living with myself, looking at myself—I would never be happy with someone else. We need to take the time and make sure we cultivate the love we have for ourselves because, after all, it’s the most important relationship of our lives.
Love isn’t just for the star-crossed lovers, it’s for everyone, and we all have it. Let’s open our eyes a bit and take notice of the most beautiful aspect of love: that it’s right in front of us at all times.
Until next time – Love.