By Brenda Ibarah
I’m indifferent to Valentine’s Day. I have always been. Not because of any bad experiences or anything but because I find it a bit overrated and overly commercialized. That too is not as much as an issue for me as the glamorizing of romantic love. On the other hand it’s always lovely to see people around me celebrate it like it is the only day for lovers and they have to make it count. From the grand gestures, to the expensive gifts and the fine dining, I think it is all beautiful.
For all that, I still hesitate to indulge in the day as I probably should. Beyond my belief that it is just another capitalist ploy, I want to figure out why Valentine’s Day doesn’t cut it for me. Though to be fair, shouldn’t I keep the same spirit for birthdays and other holiday?
What is it about Valentine’s Day that makes me borderline cynical? I know it’s not because I don’t believe in love, I am a hopeless romantic, through and through. Maybe it’s because I don’t believe that love, as grand as it is, should be honored only once a year. Or maybe I don’t like the fact that romantic love is at the centre of the day, yet there are so many other kinds of love to celebrate.
When I was younger we were told that your Valentine could be anyone from your best friend, your mother or a favorite cousin. For most of my childhood my mother was my Valentine and it was cool until I got to high school. Suddenly I had to have someone of the opposite sex as a Valentine and I had to wait around until someone gave me a card or a letter. And when I received these things, they had no sender and I had to figure out who my ‘secret admirer’ was. And when I didn’t get anything I was left questioning myself. It was too hectic and so I canceled the whole thing.
As an adult, it is still pretty much the same thing. Romantic love is at the heart of it all. (Ahem, this pun). From the newspapers to online blogs, there’s plenty of Valentine’s Day advice for couples but very little is shared on how to celebrate it with friends and family. Even less is shared when it comes to how to go about the day as a single person.
So how do we celebrate Valentine’s Day beyond romantic love? How can we honor our friends and families and ourselves too? More importantly, how can we do this throughout the year? I’m not sure who came up with the idea of February being the month of self love but I am here for it. This is a good way to take the time you need to focus on yourself and set intentions for the year ahead especially after the trial month of January. Whatever you choose to do this Valentine’s Day, do not forget to spoil yourself too. Being in a happy relationship is great but being happy with yourself and being your authentic self is the best love you can share with everyone around you.
Happy Valentine’s Day.