I’ve never been the type of girl who goes big for Valentine’s Day.
Scratch that. When I was a little girl, it was arguably my favorite holiday as I was nothing short of obsessed with those little conversation hearts. I ate them as if they were about to be discontinued. Now that I think of it, I’m pretty sure those hearts are majorly to blame for each of my cavities. Fast forward to adult life, when the fun of exchanging Valentines with classmates (and hopefully your crush) is replaced with the pressure to buy into Hallmark’s idea of the “perfect” Valentine’s Day and you end up where I am, desperate to do anything else other than act romantic on this silly holiday. Yes, anything.
My lack of anticipation around Valentine’s Day could also be attributed to the years of Valentine’s Days I spent as a waitress, mainly existing as a vehicle to ensure that some other couple enjoyed their evening together. Call me cynical, but I just don’t agree with the notion of being forced to celebrate your relationship along with millions of other couples, on one specific day.
I didn’t arrive at this anti-Cupid perspective out of nowhere, as you might have guessed. Beneath strong points of view usually lies a ridiculous experience, or at least, so tends to be the case in my life. There was this one guy I dated a few years ago, who I was crazy enough about to give the whole romantic Valentine’s Day thing a shot with. I decided to go all in and wore a fancy dress, got my hair blown out, and bought fancy Valentine’s Day lingerie. I made reservations at a restaurant that was offering an overpriced 5 course Valentine’s Day menu with wine pairings and a dessert table. I approached the day with an open mind and heart, because I figured if other women I knew enjoyed this stuff, why wouldn’t I? I anxiously searched for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift and spent way too much money on what I eventually settled for (I don’t even remember what the heck it was, but without question I remember settling for something mediocre). I even bought a card that said I love you, even though I hadn’t said it myself and wasn’t sure that I did. Admirable, I know.
Sitting there that evening at dinner across from my (then) boyfriend, I had this strange feeling that I wasn’t myself. I was carrying out a conversation, but I didn’t feel like words were coming naturally. I felt like I was putting on a front. Surrounded by other couples, I was physically aware of being in that restaurant, but while I could feel the chair underneath me, I felt so aware that it wasn’t really me sitting in it. I had succumbed to the pressures of Valentine’s Day, and they were forcing me to act like someone else. I later realized that my physical discomfort (and sheer awkwardness) that evening were credited to me not being true to myself and trusting that perhaps it’s okay that this holiday is not one that I choose to celebrate. I have nothing against romance, love, or intimacy, in the least; I just enjoy doing things on my terms, not Hallmark’s. I learned that it’s equally as important to experiment and try new things, as it is to honor who you are and what makes you, you. I also learned that in relationships, you find out so much more about yourself by taking risks and getting outside your comfort zone, and that even though the relationship might not last forever, the value of the lessons learned outweigh the heartbreak.
So I’m cool where I’m at with Valentine’s Day. I do my thing, and treat it like a normal day, and I choose to go all in on love on other random days when people least expect it.
I’m not ready to have the modern world fully scrap Valentine’s Day, however. The heart shaped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are just better.