Valentine’s Day is what my mom would call a “Hallmark Holiday”.
And she’s not totally wrong. What started as a celebration of freedom for love and marriage has turned into a holiday where literally BILLIONS of dollars are spent worldwide on giving gifts and cards to loved ones.
Since I was young the idea of having a “Valentine” was a big rom-com DREAM. He’d buy me flowers, give me jewelry and I would feel complete and whole. Totally simple.
But, alas, life tends to be anything but simple and when we find ourselves without a traditional “Valentine” we end up feeling lonely and unworthy.
And for years I’ve been asking what the FUCK is up with that? We are taught by an entire industry that unless we have someone to proclaim their love for us we’re not worthy of love?! That’s some backwards logic if I do say so myself.
Now, if you don’t know the story of how Valentine’s Day came to be I’ll give you a quick summary. The legend is that there was a priest - Sir Valentine - who lived in Rome during the third century. The emperor at the time was a raging DICK and basically proclaimed war all the damn time. So much war that he was running out of soldiers to recruit. He realized that some of these young men were hesitant to go to war because they had lovers and families and you know, didn’t want to die and abandon them (makes sense). To eliminate this “problem” his solution was to outlaw marriage! No wife, no reason to not fight in the war. Except people weren't too crazy about this idea… and low and behold this lovely priest, Sir Valentine, decided this law was total bullshit and married young couples in secret. I know, totally adorable. This didn’t go on too long until the Roman empire figured it out and threw him into prison.
If that wasn’t CUTE ENOUGH he then falls in love with the jailor’s daughter. They have a cute lil affair while he’s behind bars and according to legend sends her the very first Valentine card. He signed it “from your Valentine” which is still the phrase we use today *aaaaawwwwwwww*.
It wasn’t until a couple centuries later that Valentine’s Day became a thing, and it was decided that it would be February 14 because that is when mating season begins for birds so they thought that added to the whole romance/love thing that the holiday is allllll about.
For one of the first times there’s been this big push on this holiday not just to buy gifts for your lovers, but to celebrate self-care, self-love and show everyone in your life how much you looooove them. Now, the cynic in me honestly believes this is just a scheme to get people to spend money on Valentine’s Day gifts even if their single. I mean, it’s gotta be partly true. But, it has got me thinking a lot about what love means and the ways we show it to the important people in our lives.
Do you remember in elementary school when you had to write a Valentine’s for everyone? We made little mailboxes out of tissue boxes and spent half the day doing arts and crafts and dropping letters with lollipops into the bright pink and red containers at our tiny desks. We would eat sugar cookies and cupcakes and smile and laugh about who had a crush on who. And as we get older it becomes less and less fun. It used to be a holiday that was celebrated with the people we are surrounded by everyday. Now it feels like this big looming obligation. You don’t get into a relationship after the holidays because Valentine’s Day is right around the block and what do you get for someone you just started dating? The present you give becomes this big symbolic gesture of your love instead of just a lollipop and a picture of a dog showing that you want this person in your life.
When did it get so hard to start telling people that you like them? Like on a rudimentary, human, I enjoy your presence in my life kind of like? Once we feel what it’s like to experience heartbreak, or we get rejected by the boy in seventh grade who wouldn’t go out with you because the “boy is supposed to ask the girl out” (s/o to my 7th grade crush this really happened to me) or we wake up from a one night stand feeling unfulfilled, confused, and lonely. Once we figure out that our hearts are fragile, and that love sometimes is a temporary feeling we’re scared of embracing it. I mean, what happens when they wake up and tell you “I don’t love you anymore” (s/o to another ex lmao) ?
Coming from someone who has felt all levels of loss from the drop in your stomach after your first baby rollercoaster, to the heart-wrenching, soul crushing loss of someone who you thought was the love of your life, and all the way to losing a parent… I’m gonna tell you something you definitely don’t want to hear on a day like this:
You are the only one who can love you as wholly as you deserve.
Relationships end. People pass on. Friendships crumble, and love fades.
But you get this one life to love YOU. You get the chance every single day to wake up and explore your dreams, your passions, and your soul. When you wake up tomorrow, your lover may have slipped out while you were asleep. You could be out and get a call that your soulmate was in a horrible accident. At the end of the day, you are going to be the one that has to be there for you. You are the one that is going to have to pick yourself up after heartbreak.
And if you’re going through it today - I’m sorry to be so harsh with you.
But, think about how freaking unbelievably inspiring it is to know that you have all the strength in the world to make yourself happy? To feel loved and valued? You are the one that is always going to come through. Maybe not today, hell maybe not even in a week or a month. But, you are going to wake up to yourself every single morning for the rest of your life. This love affair isn’t going anywhere.
So today, take yourself out. Write yourself a love note. Buy a stupid pink lollipop and eat it while you walk down the street smiling at all the couples that walk by you.
And tell ALL the people in your life that you love them. They may not be feeling the love today. Something as simple as “I’m thinking about you” can turn someone’s day from absolute trash, to slightly more hopeful.
We can learn a lot from the selflessness of Mr. Valentine today. He risked his life so that others could live their lives together, happy and loved. Bring yourself a little closer to love today by showing that same graciousness. Maybe don’t break the law and get yourself thrown in jail - we don’t all need to be that extreme - but there are plenty of things we can do to spread joy and love today. From one hopeless romantic to another (hopefully i’ve gotten you just a little inspired today) I love you and I hope you come to love yourself for the full, beautiful human you are.