Love for our family and friends, love for our co-workers, love for mankind and of course, love for our spouses and significant others – they’re all beautiful. In fact, in Mexico, February 14th is also known as el día de la Amistad, Friendship Day. Yet still, the only love that is catered to on this day, are for persons in love. This isolates all other kinds of love, unconsciously purporting the idea, that the only love that matters is romantic love. If you’re not struck with Cupid’s arrow, crapaud smoke yuh pipe.
Consequently, Valentine’s Day is dreaded by millions of people who find themselves alone on the day. The constant bombardment of commercials, merchandise displayed in shop windows, co-workers being surprised with flowers and bragging “friends” on social media could feel almost unbearable. Lonely singles are often labelled as ‘bitter’ by love-struck couples who misinterpret their eye-rolling and exasperated sighs. The reality is, February 14th is hard for single people especially if you are recently single after a bad breakup or really wanting to be in a relationship. Very understandable. However, Valentine’s Day does not have to be excruciating and painful. This post may be a day or two late, but it’s just in time for Valentine’s 2018. So, if you find yourself single, here’s how to survive the day…and even enjoy it.
Free yourself of social pressure
To a large extent, society dictates how we live our lives at every stage. Most of us are taught that we should go to school, get a good education, find a good job, get married, buy a house, have babies and die. This is considered the norm. It is a checklist for life with very little wiggle room. And most people do just that. I remember the anxiety I experienced at age 27 wanting to be married and observing all my peers tying the knot and starting their families. Being the only single one in my circle seemed cruel and unfair. Friends and family constantly asking why I didn’t yet have a husband did not make things any better.
I made myself extremely unhappy, finding it difficult to celebrate the milestones of others – like engagements, weddings and new babies. It occurred to me one day that the only reason why I was so miserable was because my life did not mirror everyone else’s. I had checked less boxes and felt like my life was somehow inferior. When I accepted that life is not a rush to the finish line but an individual journey, I was free of normative expectations and pressure. Embrace your own journey and free yourself of social pressure.
Trust your life’s journey
While you continue to wait for your special person, why not check some more boxes? Don’t be afraid to redefine your list. But be careful, those of us who dare to add unorthodox items to our checklists are often heavily criticized. Living by the traditional checklist creates endless anxiety for those who have managed to get jobs but are unsuccessful in pinning down a relationship that leads to marriage. In my opinion, this is why despair looms over singles on Valentine’s Day. In fact, several studies suggest that being alone on Valentine’s Day can cause depression in both teenagers and adults.
Subconsciously, sharing this day with a significant other means you have found love which means you’re closer to checking the ‘get married’ box on your checklist. Although it is not said, checked boxes represent happiness. In other words, if I achieve X, Y and Z I would be happy. This is not so. Don’t tie your entire life’s happiness to the things you don’t yet have. Allowing yourself to be consumed by the lack of a boyfriend or love interest makes it difficult to appreciate the things you have accomplished. Trust your life’s journey and be happy now.
Celebrate the other loves
Finally, do not let the absence of a boyfriend or girlfriend diminish the presence of other forms of love in your life. As I mentioned earlier, Valentine’s Day is the perfect occasion to celebrate people in our lives who are important and who love us. Appreciate your parents and siblings, friends and co-workers and neighbours and loyal customers who contribute to your happiness. Share kind words with someone who has lost a loved one or is having time in life. Don’t reduce the day to a selfish one that makes you alone feel good; demonstrate love in its purest form and share it with everybody else. This year, I made plans with my best friends. As we laughed and talked over some of our favourite food, I swear I felt that warm, fuzzy feeling in my heart so often associated with romance.
I am amused how far I’ve come. Valentine’s Day is no longer daunting and would you believe…I even enjoyed it.