I haven’t been alone on a Valentine’s Day in six years. From traditional dinners to dorm rooms creatively turned into makeshift restaurants, I’ve always had the most wonderful experiences being in relationships on this day. But this year is going to be a little different, and I’m really excited about that.
They say your 20s are the time to be alone. The time to discover who you really are, live life on your own terms and take risks. I have been doing exactly that for just six months, and I can already feel the immense growth through lessons learned in my last relationship.
I feel myself being more patient with others and looking at alternative perspectives instead of jumping to conclusions. I’m learning to communicate qualms respectfully and in a timely manner, instead of suppressing my feelings until they bubble over. I’ve been setting firmer boundaries to protect myself and my wellbeing, and in turn I have avoided relying on anyone else to make sure I’m okay. These are all things that I learned from my last partner, who was far better at them than me.
This isn’t to be self-deprecating; we both had our faults and still do. But I’ve found that what allows for real growth is looking at experiences as exactly that: experiences. I’m still in college. I haven’t even entered the real world, and these are the most formative years of my life. The person who cried through Classical Mechanics their freshman year is most definitely not the same person writing this article.
I was a people pleaser, I didn’t know how to set boundaries and I never stood up for myself. Likely because I looked for validation in romance and friendships in quantity and always cared far too much about what everyone else had to say.
But every heartbreak, romantic or platonic, created a mirrored tile that at the time, I couldn’t see. Every time I overcame a mental spiral when someone called me “manipulative,“ “toxic” or even “evil,“ another reflective piece emerged. And it took over three years and some serious introspection, but the dazzling disco ball that I am now is a mosaic of the glass shattered in those moments.
So, I’m going into this Valentine’s Day with a somewhat unconventional valentine: me. It is objectively true that no one knows how to treat me better than myself because only I can ever fully understand what makes me happy. And I can finally say with full confidence that I believe I deserve it. And my plans for the 14th reflect exactly that.
I will start the day buying myself overpriced flowers and chocolate. Then I’ll see some of my favorite girls for a little Galentine’s brunch, and finally I’ll sit in front of the television with a hot cup of tea and a nice romantic comedy. Although many of my friends warned me that I would, I don’t hate this day.
Why would I? It has given me an excuse to go a little Amazon crazy; I bought tall red tapered candles and a Galentine’s banner among other things. I will top it all off with a dirty chai cake from Charm City Cakes to spoil my ladies. I’m beyond excited to dip strawberries in chocolate, brûlée some grapefruits and cut mini sandwiches into heart shapes. And I just know that someday, if I’m married or committed, I’ll be thankful that I made the most of every second that I could dedicate to doing exactly what I wanted without any input from anyone else. Sounds like a pretty great thing to celebrate if you ask me.
So, if you’re single, or even if you aren’t, I highly recommend adding yourself to your list of valentines. Go so far as to write yourself a card filled with all the amazing qualities you possess and all the ways in which you are undeniably beautiful.
I do feel incredibly lucky to have always been with such lovely gentlemen who treated me with so much care and respect all these years. As a result, my exes are two of my most trusted friends; they both made me better versions of myself. But the person I have to thank the most is me. I stuck by my side through everything; I pulled myself out of my darkest moments and celebrated my sunniest days to the fullest extent. I deserve a dozen roses and my favorite chocolates this weekend, so that’s what I’m going to get.
Saniya Ramchandani is a senior studying Physics from Singapore. Her column is a reflective narrative that chronicles her experiences navigating various aspects of college life.