I've been single for more Valentine's Days than I can count. For some reason, most of my relationships have fallen at other times of the year, and this can suck sometimes. When my friends are gushing about their significant others and all the cute surprises they have planned, I’m eating Trader Joe’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups and queueing up The Bachelor on TV. But here’s how my opinions changed and why now I love being single on Valentine’s Day.
When I was younger, I used to wallow. I’d come home from class and see a giant teddy bear and roses in our apartment (courtesy of my roommate’s boyfriend) and curse the universe. Valentine’s Day is the worst, I’d think. It’s totally commercialized and not at all authentic and I will have no part in it. But secretly, I wanted nothing more than someone to make me feel valued and loved.
The year I turned 21, something shifted. I had been investing a lot in myself over recent months, serving as president of my sorority and doing serious research for my political science thesis. But as Valentine’s Day approached, I dreaded the bummed-out feeling I knew would inevitably come when I saw Snaps and photos of the day. Something needed to change, but I wasn’t sure exactly what that was.
I was working at my local J.Crew at the time (a job which gave me a killer wardrobe but never did wonders for my bank account), and there was a pair of shoes that had recently caught my eye. They were periwinkle blue, soft suede pointy-toe pumps, and I was obsessed. I spent weeks coveting them as they sat on the display shelf, calling my name. When I was feeling particularly attached, I’d even try them on. But with a hefty, three-digit price tag, there was no way I could justify them. Blue suede heels? Not exactly the most practical life investment.
But when February rolled around, I took matters into my own hands. Knowing I couldn’t face another year of sitting at home by myself on the day of love, I marched into the store with the world’s most perfect excuse to buy those shoes: I’m worth it. I was tired of waiting for someone else to make me feel validated and special. They say you can’t truly love others until you love yourself, and this felt like a tangible way to tell myself, I love you, you’re killing it, buy the freaking shoes.
And I felt like a total queen. I bought myself mint chocolate chip ice cream at Kroger (the Breyer’s brand, my favorite) and went home to curl up with a blanket and a book. It was the ultimate day of luxury, and for the first time, I truly wanted to spend the day with just me — no significant other needed.
The funny thing was, when I inevitably heard from friends about their Valentine’s Day celebrations with their partners, I didn’t feel jealous at all. Some of them had awkward experiences with a relationship that was still undefined, and some just felt like the holiday was overhyped. But me? I was thriving.
I wore the blue suede shoes to my sorority semi-formal that year, and to this day I break them out whenever I need a pick-me-up. They’re my favorite item of clothing, and they make me feel strong and independent and fabulous. And every year since, I’ve used Valentine’s Day as an excuse to splurge on something I love — whether it be a fancy dinner, a new outfit, or a trendy fitness class. This year, I plan to cook a new pasta recipe and hopefully buy a cozy Madewell sweater I've been eyeing.
My philosophy on Valentine’s Day is this: The most important person worth celebrating is yourself. Whether you’re single, dating, or in a long-term committed relationship, be your own valentine first. You are sufficient and worth all the love and affection in this world, and if you don’t provide that care to yourself, you won’t be able to love others as well. Waiting around for someone else to make you feel valuable can often result in disappointment.
The one person we have in this life forever is ourselves, and in my opinion, it’s the most important relationship we can cultivate. When you radiate self-love, it’s infectious, and other people feel that love and confidence by being around you.
So, get out there, girl, and buy the freaking shoes!