I want the preface this post by assuring any and all readers that I am not the least bit bitter about Valentine’s Day. I did not take comfort in wearing black instead of oh-so-festive red, I did not post/reblog/laugh at internet memes boycotting the holidays, and I did not spend my day at home with a bottle of wine and a sappy movie.
My friends and I
celebrated Gal-entines day with the best of them, beginning with brunch and
ending out on the town in our fanciest party dresses, and I really enjoyed a
day of celebrating love between friends. New to this city, Valentine’s Day this
year was a wonderful reminder of how lucky I’ve been in the people I’ve met. As
we sipped our drinks at Red Lobster, (because what says love better than cheese
biscuits), I realized I haven’t felt this content with life in a long time. I’m
very glad that we as a culture designate a day to celebrate human
That said, especially as women, we put much too much
pressure on the holiday to confirm things about our lives that we already know.
My roommate (who is engaged, by the way) spent the entire day obsessing over a
package sent from her fiancé, even though we were snowed in and no mail was
being delivered. By the end of the evening, she had been reduced to a puddle of
insecurity on the couch, wondering if he’d forgotten her and sent her gift
late. Close friends of mine, both here and far away, waited impatiently for
their partner to call or text, his/her level of commitment gauged by how early
in the morning the message was received. My Facebook news feed became a
competition of whose bouquet of flowers was the largest, or sent from the
greatest distance. A woman I know actually took a picture of her flowers next
to a reference object, so that there could be no possible doubt that hers was actually the biggest possible bouquet of
flowers posted on the internet. Her man had done her proud, affirming their love in the most ostentatious way he could.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Why has Valentine’s Day
become such a competitive, hetero-normative, and materialistic status symbol of
a holiday? Is this really about relationships anymore, or is it about proving how
much we’re worth, both to each other and ourselves?
I want to remind everyone that love is not a competition. At
its best, this holiday is about celebrating the happiness that is the
realization that we are not alone. It is the blessing that comes from reminding
those special to us how much we care about them. It is joy that comes from
dressing up and going out to a fancy dinner with your partner, or just
snuggling on the couch with friends. There is no need to gauge your place in
the grand scheme of life based by how far someone else has gotten; that would
only work if we were all the same. Everyone’s story is different, and we all
find love in different ways.
In the spirit of trying new things in the New Year, (a
resolution made between friends), I’m not going to let perceived inadequacy
detract from all the beautiful things in life. I’m not going to acknowledge
the imagined standards set by a culture that gauges all things by
competition, where true happiness is only possible if I’m on the most expensive
date with the most expensive dress and the most gorgeous mate. I’m not going to
let expectations detract from the happiness I’ve gained in the past year.
instead going to revel in the beauty that is my life, happy that yesterday I had the chance to remind people how truly special they are to me. Or at least, I'm going to try.
Happy Valentine’s Day, world.