Maybe it's just me, but it felt like Valentine's Day decor infiltrated the grocery store aisles sooner than usual this year. I saw chocolates, hearts and teddy bears out before January 1st in some places. While there are definitely single people out there who fully tune out Valentine's Day, laughing it off as a stupid, commercial holiday (and genuinely being okay with being single on this day), there are others out there who experience Valentine's Day as one of the hardest days of the year. If you find yourself struggling on this day, my guess is that you've felt some judgement towards yourself at times. You may have thought to yourself, "Why does it bother you so much? Just get over it. You're a loser for caring about this day." If that applies to you, keep reading. It's time to let some of those judgments go.
Let's think about a few scenarios for a second. Would you tell a grieving widow that she's stupid for feeling sad on Valentine's Day when it's her first time celebrating it alone in 50 years? Would you tell someone who found out on Valentine's Day that their partner was cheating on them, that they should just "suck it up" and not experience some painful memories on this day going forward? If someone's fiance broke up with them a few weeks ago and then on Valentine's Day they see on Facebook that their best friend got engaged, would you tell them they don't have a right to feel some emotion when that happens? My guess is that most people would understand why Valentine's Day might be hard for each of the individuals in these scenarios. Before you are quick to judge others (or yourself) when Valentine's Day is a struggle, think twice.
Because even if Valentine's Day is a "stupid" holiday (as many have come to believe), it is a holiday nevertheless. It is marked on calendars and you can't walk into a store without being reminded of it. There is a sense that it is not just "another" day - it's different because it's a holiday that can be and is celebrated by many. Imagine if you were told that you were not allowed to celebrate Christmas or Thanksgiving. Nope, no presents or turkey for you. No going over to your family's house to spend time with them. You'd probably feel confused, hurt, angry, and left out. While that may be a little extreme to think about being "banished" from celebrating some other major holidays, for people who are single on Valentine's Day, this can be how it feels. It can feel like this is a holiday they are excluded from and that they are on the sidelines watching everyone else participate while they are alone. Again, some people don't care to participate and are just fine being on the sidelines, but there are plenty of other people who wish they had someone to celebrate it with.
While you may be expecting this blog to take the next step of me telling you what you can do to feel better on Valentine's Day if you're single, you're mistaken. You've likely been way too hard on yourself for way too long each time you find yourself crying on this day or wanting to punch the oversized teddy bears in the grocery store aisles. There is not a "magic cure" to feel better. I'm not here to treat it just like any other day because as I already acknowledged above, it isn't. If you've already found some things that help make the day a little less hard for you, by all means, do those things. Band together with your other single friends, buy yourself chocolate, stay inside and avoid going out anywhere - you have my stamp of approval on whatever has been helpful for you in the past or whatever you want to try moving forward. What I'm really here to say and encourage is for you to give yourself some patience and grace navigating Valentine's Day, whether it's your first one being single in a long time or whether it's your tenth. There isn't a one-size-fits-all approach for how to spend this day. Some people turn to wallowing and can't function, others paste an unnatural grin on their face and act like it's not a big deal (when deep-down, it's hard on them). Find a happy medium, whatever that looks like for you. Allow yourself to feel your feelings without being hard on yourself for having them in the first place. It's okay for this to be a difficult day.