Happy Valentine’s Day! The way I have viewed this day has changed drastically over the years. Up until my teenage years, I always loved Valentine’s. It was February 14 when I was seven years old that I was gifted my puppy Nana, who I am convinced was the world’s cutest young canine, and who grew into what I am still convinced was the world’s sweetest dog. The first time I can remember having a negative reaction to Valentine’s Day was when I was fifteen and in the midst of forcing myself to conform to heteronormative standards. All around me, naïve teenage girls were being given roses and hugging their significant others, and here I was, single and aggressively forcing myself to simulate romantic feelings for a charismatic boy from church who had recently begun dating a girl from my drama class. Looking back now, it saddens me that I felt this way, not only because I exerted so much effort into trying to turn a perfectly good friendship into something that was never meant to be, having it fall apart completely in the process, but because I so strongly bought into the notion that the reason I was so unhappy was because I was single. The reality was, I was unhappy because I was trying to make myself into someone I was not, on many, many levels, and because I was experiencing a profound sense of loneliness, despite the fact that I was surrounded by people who cared about me. I was convinced that I was not good enough on some fundamental level, and that by casting away my introverted nature and getting a boyfriend, I could be redeemed. Through years of therapy and self reflection, I learned that these things were absolute bull excrement. Looking back, I think the most harmful thing I ever internalized was the over importance that Western societies place on sex and romantic love. That is not to say that romantic love is a bad thing. I experienced it full force for the first time a little over a year ago, and it was quite an exhilarating, consuming, cursed, wonderful thing. But romantic love IS NOT THE ONLY KIND THAT MATTERS. If you do not experience it, you will not forever be alone. If you experience it and are happy without a romantic partner, you are not alone. The love of a friend, someone who simply enjoys you as a person and who voluntarily spends their limited free time in your presence, can be some of the most profound love their is. Familial love, while possessing an underlying current of obligation, is perhaps the most powerful and permanent. The phrase “just friends” infuriates me. There is nothing trivial, nothing “just” about a true, loyal friend, and a supportive family is worth more than a harem of conventionally attractive lovers and all the flowers and chocolate in the world. It is perfectly okay to spend Valentine’s Day, the traditional day of commercially glorifying, glamourizing, and overvaluing romantic love, with a dear friend, or hanging out with your family. It is a brave thing to be single in a world that tells you being so equals being incomplete.
If you are in a happy romantic relationship, that’s fantastic! But don’t neglect the other kinds of love that color your life. If romantic love isn’t something you want, you are not incomplete! There is absolutely nothing wrong with fully embracing the kinds of love that society undervalues – love between friends, love between cousins, even love between an artist and their art. If romantic love is something you want and something you lack, it will come. You are not alone, you are not incomplete. The love you look for will come, and in the mean time, focus on the love that you have.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Keep on Aceing It!