Beating the Valentine's Day Blues

I have a love-hate relationship with Valentine's Day that's changed over the years. But I've learned how to celebrate it on my own terms and not anyone else's ideas of what the day should be.

Heart-shaped candies on a pink plate Photo: Jill Wellington

For people in relationships, February 14 is usually a happy day that helps to highlight the love these people share for their partners. But for single people, Valentine’s Day creates a reminder in the calendar that they’re alone. Many single people hate this day, whether it’s from the feeling of loneliness or the pain from Valentine’s past. But, over the years, I’ve learned there’s no need to be upset about being single on Valentine's Day.

When I was in elementary school Valentine's Day was one of my favourite days. Every kid was given a paper bag to decorate in red and pink glitter and hearts to stick on the side of their desk. Then everyone would bring the cards and candy they made and put them into the bags. I always enjoyed getting the My Little Pony or Shrek-themed Valentine's Day cards. I didn’t care about what Valentine's Day was about, it just felt like a second Halloween to me.

As I got older, the pressures of this holiday started to kick in. All my friends were getting into relationships and my older sisters started bringing guys home, so the day took on a whole new meaning. The week before Valentine's Day, anyone could pay 25 cents to get a card to send to someone, and then that card would be attached to a smarties box and given out on Valentine's Day. The school called them candygrams. A nice tradition in theory, but many students saw it as a competition to see who got the most candygrams.

In ninth grade, I remember being so nervous about the candygram I had sent to my crush because I had no idea if he would get one for me. The whole week, I thought about nothing else. Then on Valentine's Day I was given one candygram with his name on it. I was so overjoyed, but later that day I looked at the pink note with my name written on it and wondered what I was so stressed about. There was no need to put my value into this card if it made me question my self-worth.

I’ve been single my whole life and have never had any regrets about it. And, with the exception of Valentine's Day in grade nine, I’ve never felt any stress over the holiday. Still, I’ve had to comfort many single friends around this time, which has been heartbreaking to see because these women are amazing people, and they feel inferior just because they don’t have a partner to spend the day with.

It’s very easy to get wrapped up in what other people’s lives look like, but it’s important to remember that just because your life doesn’t look the same as someone else’s it doesn’t mean it’s any worse. There are so many great perks to being single.

There’s a difference between feeling lonely and being alone. Just because you don’t have a certain someone to spend it with doesn’t mean there aren’t other people you can spend the day appreciating.

One of my favourite things to come out of Valentine's Day is Galentine's Day. It’s a fun excuse to appreciate your friends and hang out. My favourite one was last year when my friends and I dressed up in red and pink, ate a heart-shaped cake and presented slideshows on our favourite topics. One of our friends even changed her plans with her boyfriend to a different day so she could spend the day with us. Who says you need a partner to enjoy the holiday?

Another way to look at this day is to focus on self-love—the most important foundation for relationships with other people. It sounds corny but it’s true. It’s hard to form healthy relationships when you can’t prioritize yourself and set boundaries.

When feeling lonely on Valentine's Day, take the day to appreciate yourself. Maybe do some self-care or treat yourself to something you love. Look at all the amazing things you have accomplished in the past and all the great things you’re looking forward to in the future.

After all, it’s just another day in the year—Valentine's Day is only going to have as much meaning as you give to it. You might be surprised at how freeing it is to let go of the weight of the disdain for the day.