For a lot of people, Valentine’s Day is less a holiday and more a 24-hour block of dodging obnoxiously googly-eyed social media posts and couples feeling each other up in the middle of the quad. And, as always, it’s coming around again. In a week, every store will be plastered with red heart-shaped decorations and every decent restaurant will be booking up fast.
Whether you're single, in a relationship or something in between, this time of year can be pretty stressful. If you're single, obviously it can feel pretty lonely. If you're in a relationship, then there can be a lot of pressure to make the day lavish and special. And if you're somewhere in between, it can be difficult to figure out what exactly is expected of you come the 14th.
And that’s why it’s important that we start to re-contextualize Valentine’s Day. Although for a lucky few it’s a rom-com come true, for most of us, for whatever reason, it can be a source of a lot of nerves and anxiety.
The first time I had a date for Valentine’s Day was just this past year. Before that, I had never experienced having a significant other to dote on me and share gifts with in February.
Those 20 years without a “valentine” taught me a lot about how to skirt the emotional land mines of Cupid’s holiday, and I’ve found these skills useful no matter what my relationship status was when the fated day rolled around.
So I’d like to share a few tips with you.
Tip #1: Don’t make Valentine’s Day just about romantic relationships. As the timeless Lou Reed once sang, “No kinds of love are better than others.”
Send a parent or a sibling a nice text letting them know that you love and miss them. Buy candy to give to the friends that you see throughout the day, and FaceTime your best friend from home. Write a note to your roommate and leave it on their desk on your way to class.
Elevate your platonic relationships to the same level as your romantic ones. Take this opportunity to openly express their value and importance in your life.
Tip #2: Take a shower and spend some time in front of the mirror in the morning. Start the day off fresh, and while you're getting ready, take a moment to really look at yourself. It will be tempting to just take stock of your flaws, but try to notice things that you like.
This is easier said than done, but even if you pick just one thing that you like — the curve of your nose, the shape of your eyes, a unique beauty mark — it can help you carry a little bit of extra confidence around throughout the day.
Tip #3: Wear something that makes you feel good. This doesn't necessarily mean that you need to wear heels or a body-hugging mini skirt — although it could mean that, of course.
Just wear something that makes you feel comfortable in your own skin, whether that be a new outfit you haven't had the chance to wear out yet or sweatpants and running shoes.
Tip #4: Think about some things that you like about yourself that aren't physical. If you have time, sit down and write a list. If you don’t, try to note things in your head when you can. Maybe you have a particularly infectious laugh or you give great advice. Maybe you’re really good at playing an instrument or you do a lot of volunteer work.
Whatever the things you list are, make sure to give yourself a little bit of the love and attention that you're expected to want from other people on this day.
Tip #5: Don’t be scared of Valentine’s Day. Even though it’s daunting, it really can be a good day regardless of who you are or aren't dating. Reframing the 14th as a day of self-love and strengthening connections with others (even if they aren't your significant other) makes the whole holiday a much more productive, less stressful affair.
Well, that, and the tons of discounted candy you can look forward to the day after. That helps too.