Hello, dear internet friends,
Valentine’s Day is just over two weeks away. Stating the obvious, I suppose; you can hardly go shopping anywhere—online or IRL—without being bombarded by red, pink, and heart-shaped everything. “Bombarded” is a word with a negative flavor, but maybe that’s how you experience the lovey-dovey overload all around us. I’ve certainly been there. As much as I love Valentine’s Day, sometimes this holiday can taste like a chocolate-covered reminder of what you’re missing out on.
It starts out so simple. When you’re a kid, Valentine’s Day can be like a mini-Halloween, minus the costumes. My elementary school did a classroom party every year. Everyone brought equal amounts of love (er, candy) for everyone else in the class. I’m sure some people picked out their closest friends’ cards with extra care, giving them their favorite Disney Princess or Nickelodeon character from the pack. But at the end of the day, everyone went home with a full construction-paper-covered shoebox of treats.
Life was good.
Somewhere along the way, though, Valentine’s Day can start to look like a holiday for highlighting the haves over the have-nots. Maybe even before you’re ready to have a real Valentine yourself. For me, that shift happened in middle school. The classroom parties disappeared. Instead, our school had a carnation sale. The way I remember it, if one (or more) of your classmates bought you a flower, you were given a paper slip to go pick it up at the end of the day.
I don’t have strong feelings about carnations. They’re fine. Not my favorite. But oh, how I wanted one that afternoon, watching those fluffy little flower heads bob down the hallway as I walked out of school empty-handed.
I don’t know if I was expecting flowers from anyone. Maybe I sent some to my friends, hoping to do an exchange, but didn’t talk to them in advance about it. Certainly, I secretly wished a crush would send me one, but the hurt I felt wasn’t about that. Feeling left out stings. Understandably so. Still, the disappointment wouldn’t have cut so deep if I hadn’t placed my self-worth outside of myself, where it could be battered by the flimsiest of flower petals.
I’ve been thinking about that a lot this week—self-worth, and how the relationships we have with ourselves affect the tenor of every experience we have. I used to think “relationship” was a funny word to use in relation to our own selves. I mean, relationship implies two people, and as far as I know, none of us have clones. But the more I’ve thought about it, it’s actually a great term to use. Sometimes, the way we approach ourselves—through self-talk, for example—is so automatic we don’t stop to question it. I think we could learn a lot by creating a little space to observe how we treat ourselves.
I also think considering our self-care as a relationship is great because a lot of the things that work in relationships can also help us feel better ourselves. Miley recently reminded us all we can buy our own “Flowers” and also learn to enjoy our own company, which I think might be the best possible place to start. So many of our friendships begin with the simple foundation of liking to spend time with someone, right?
I recently read through some of my journal entries from high school. One rough day when I was 16, I wrote: “My life is just so lame sometimes. It’s a Saturday Night and I’m in my bed at 9:20 watching That’s So Raven.” My first thought when I read that was, that actually sounds pretty great. I don’t mean to diminish how I felt. Feeling lonely and without a place to belong was miserable. But what I see now that I didn’t then is that, at the very least, I would love to hang out with that girl. That me. I’d love to spend a Valentine’s Day with her, watching To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and picking the vanilla cremes out of the shiny red heart-shaped box. I’ve had plenty of great Valentine’s, but that would be pretty exceptional.
I’m looking forward to exploring this all more with you this year. I think the relationships we have with ourselves are so much richer and more complex than we give them credit for being. They deserve to be held amongst the great love stories of our lives.
I hope you can find a moment to enjoy your own company this Valentine’s Day. Because there’s one person you’ll always get to spend the holiday with: you. How lucky are you?
The luckiest. I can see that. I hope you can, too.