Valentine’s Day. It’s the most dreaded day for so many singles. I can remember in grade school hating to walk by the school office on Valentine’s Day, knowing that many of my friends would have balloons and stuffed animals, flowers and candy waiting on them, expressions of adoration from their beloveds. *Sigh.* I was never one of the ones getting called to the office for a special delivery. It was torture.
The torture continued into my 20s and 30s. I was a perpetual “separate check,” never seeming to maintain any dating relationship through Valentine’s Day. Wait. Once, I did. I had a boyfriend one year for Valentine’s Day. He took me to Kentucky Fried Chicken for dinner. I planned a trip to the zoo. It was epic. Trust me. There are worse things than being single on Valentine’s Day.
Here’s the thing. Our culture is obsessed with coupling. From early on we are taught through movies and tv, family traditions and societal “norms” that humans are destined to be paired with other humans, that somehow we are only half a person until we are joined to another. Well, I’m going to call BS on that one. In about a month and a half, I will turn 41. I am single and have been my entire life. I’ve never had a long term dating relationship, and I have no sense of certainty that I ever will. This used to bother me immensely. It was as if I was irreparably flawed, incapable of having a real life until I could say that some other human called me his love. Please, before you are tempted to “bless my heart” or feel sorry for me, let me stop you. I have a wonderful life. I am single, and I am whole. And, I love my life and the me – the complete, whole me – I am always in the process of creating.
Oh, the wasted time and energy on trying to understand, trying to figure out how I could attract love into my life… It took me a while, but I finally realized two very important things:
1. I have a LOT of love in my life. Right now I’m looking at a beautiful vase of white hydrangeas (my favorite) given to me by sweet friends. I have people who shower me with love and grace and so much goodness that I get overwhelmed when I think about it. I give and receive love by the buckets load on a regular basis, and it has nothing to do with being coupled. It is about family and friends and my people, and it is gift.
2. I must give love to myself first. I know this is a hard one for many of us, and it was difficult for me too. But, if I’ve learned anything in my almost 41 years it’s that self-loathing and criticism will destroy the human spirit. Learning to love ourselves – all of ourselves – is necessary and courageous. Accepting all of who we are and loving ourselves for all our quirks and messiness and imperfections is step number one to inviting more love into our lives. When we embrace ourselves as whole, complete persons and begin to live our lives as if we are whole and complete and worthy of love and belonging, we open ourselves to incredible beauty and opportunity.
Single friends (ladies and gents), YOU ARE NOT FLAWED because you are single, and you are not single because you are flawed. You are not broken or less than a whole person. You are, in fact, complete and worthy of love. So, on this Valentine’s Day, love yourself. Remind yourself of how beautiful and handsome and talented and fun and wonderful you are – just because you’re you. Do something nice for yourself, and for heaven’s sake, stop waiting for your life to start when… Your life is happening right now, and it will pass you by if you aren’t careful to wake up to its beauty and opportunity. Take it from somebody who wasted more time than I care to admit searching for the secret to true love and the key to happiness. Happiness is ours for the taking, but we have to choose it.
I don’t know if I’ll ever find my “Prince Charming” or wear the white gown or be anybody’s Valentine. But, I know that loving myself and embracing my life as it is today and choosing to live with courage and authenticity has invited love into my life in ways I never imagined. And, I’m happy. Just me and my dog, and my people.
So, toss the black roses; stop watching sappy romantic comedies, and put down the pint of ice cream. Your life is better than you think. And, so are you.
Happy February 14th! … and 15th… and 16th… and…