I really want one of those dainty sideways crosses for Valentine’s Day. You know the ones that are super popular and so so pretty? They symbolize something really important to me. I also expect to be able to take a nap and be swooned a little bit. It’s a luxury and a privilege to banter on about what we want and expect for Valentine’s Day, because this day and this month are really tough for a lot of people- they certainly were for me as a young adult.
February 14th can be hard for some because there is an expectation to give and receive romantic love on this day. For others, this day is more about grief or searching than anything else.
I can remember being in college and all of the socials, formals, candy grams, decorations, you name it, that surrounded Valentine’s Day. It was almost as if a date, a card, or having plans dictated my worth as a human being. What happens if I’m all alone on this day? What if I don’t have an answer when someone asks me what I’m doing? Who will be my Valentine? What if I’m not worthy of celebrating on this day?
Valentine’s Day has historic roots in Christian and ancient Roman tradition. It’s also a holiday where the American people spend millions of dollars on stuff. I recently read – with a grain of salt – the average household spends over 100 dollars on gifts this holiday.
My favorite professor in college used to say that Valentine’s Day is a a celebration of love- all love. Meaning love of friends and family, love of pets, love of kids, love in faith or belief, love of self, love of yummy treats. This month, I think a lot about folks who feel lost and lonely because of the holiday, but I have to say there are a lot of different ways to look at staying emotionally grounded during this season.
First and foremost, we need to reframe how we think about love. Love isn’t just about romance; we can choose to find love in a lot of things. Perhaps you choose to celebrate a friend or a pet or express your belief in something important on this day instead of feeling like you need a date. Secondly, YOU are enough. Just you- wonderful you- may be the perfect date for this day. What brings you joy? Reading? Netflix? Pedicures? Cooking? Running? Take time this day to do those things and celebrate yourself. Finally, recognize there is a need. There are plenty of ways to serve others this day- nursing home visits, food pantry serving, daycare help. It’s cold in February, so maybe the way you spread love is getting some warm drinks and passing them out to your neighbors or folks in your area without housing.
There is a lot we can do that doesn’t involve candy grams or heart balloons to stay grounded. If nothing else, hang in there- it’s 24 hours of sappy stuff and then the whole world goes back to normal (until Easter – but this holiday involves Peeps, so that’s a huge bonus). You are not alone and at Active Minds we celebrate the love we have for all of you this day and everyday.
This post was written by Dr. Colleen Coffey, a member of the Active Minds Speakers Bureau.
Illustration courtesy of Amy Chen.