Oh, Valentine’s Day, the quintessence of irony: a holiday about love that has an unparalleled ability to tap into our innermost feelings of self-hate.
There are five stages of Valentine’s Day grief. Let me break them down.
First is self-loathing: you realize your singleness can be traced back to the fact that you are utterly unlovable.
Second is jealousy: why aren’t you able to post a shameless, self-indulgent anniversary photo compilation on Instagram like everyone else? Oh right, because you’re a hopeless, unsightly, aspiring spinster.
Third is guilt: why did you drown your loneliness in that family-sized box of Godiva? Now you don’t have a prayer of finding a soulmate who will see your pure heart through your impending cellulite.
Fourth is anger: oh Jesus, it’s Valentine’s Day again, and you’re going to have to grin and bear the endless Hallmark movies and elusive restaurant availability. Why couldn’t it be one of those things that only happens every four years like a leap year?
Finally, fifth is defeat: maybe you should just hide under your covers for the day. At least you won’t have to face the unbearable sight of everyone’s love but yours.
Like the five stages of grief that psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross so famously defined, the stages of Valentine’s Day disappointment only worsen as you progress through them. Let’s rectify this.
The holiday is supposed to be centered around love, remember? Whether single, dating, in a relationship or married, there is only one person in our lives who will provide us with unconditional love, and it tends to be the person we deprive of love the most: ourselves.
In our hyper-superficial world, it can feel like there are so many pressures we simply cannot satisfy on our own. We need someone to take our photos for us, so we can look like we have friends, not to mention people to populate our feeds. We need people to admire our aesthetic. We need people to watch our vlogs.
And our vision of our capacity is even further clouded by those we profoundly depend on: our parents to show us love and, if we’re lucky, subsidize our expenses, our siblings to survive our parents, our friends to provide us with guidance and our romantic relationships for validation. There’s an insurmountable quantity of need, and it’s easy to credit everyone else with their contributions while you just try to pull yourself through and beat yourself up for every misstep.
This Valentine’s Day, try treating yourself as if you were your own significant other. Celebrate all your favorite qualities and pour affection into those things about yourself that you would typically find annoying. Take yourself out to a nice meal. Allow yourself some treats. Pamper yourself. Write yourself a love letter.
Think about all your best features. You were bright enough to get yourself into a top university. You are doing well enough in your studies not to have failed yet. Simply being in college means you are working toward making a meaningful impact and improving the world, in whatever way resonates with you. You’re doing your best.
So challenge yourself to be your own Valentine this holiday. And if nothing else, remember this: even Saint Valentine himself wasn’t exactly a heartthrob (and he was martyred).
Dana Munro is a sophomore majoring in musical theater. Glass Half Full runs every Tuesday.