Although it wasn’t my intention, it seems “My Beef With…” series is going to become a thing so please bear with me as I recount the experiences and musings that led me to abhor Valentine’s Day.
Hallmark and the chocolate manufacturers are blamed for the creation of an unofficial national holiday in which friends and lovers show their appreciation for each other. It doesn’t matter where the tradition started, or how, what matters for this discussion is how the celebratory tone has undertaken competitive undertones. Valentine’s Day is a death race, an opportunity to break or make hearts and relationships. I have never felt so much pressure to perform or express the right sentiment on demand on a specific day. For an introvert, this is HUGE!
My beef with Valentine’s is that because of the pressure of saying the right thing, of having to learn how to reject people gently, and figuring out how to cope with on-the-spot rejection, I have never actually experienced a good, bad ass, super romantic or memorable Valentine’s Day. Zero. None. All I recall is the anxiety and pain of surviving many unpolished and nervous be mine requests. It made me dread the gift exchanges and school dances. I grew to abhor the date and what it represented: an opportunity to miss out on love.
Valentine’s Day is one of the many reasons I hate surprises. People build it up so much with proposals and lavish getaways that it is hard to not roll your eyes and wonder if they are overcompensating for something. Do they truly mean it? The amount of bitterness, resentment and anger some people harbor can always be traced back to botched plans or painful rejections around this time frame. It is just brutal! Think about it. You spend your life comparing your dates to those love birds that always seem to nail it, wondering “Why them and not me?”. This uncertainty will plant galactic levels of jealousy and contempt in your heart and soul as you replay the question in your mind over and over again. This was the story of my childhood and teenage years. I’m sure others can join me in the sentiment as we start a bonfire and release the bad memories to the tune of Let it Go. I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life anymore.
As a teenager I pondered the “Why not me?” question a lot because I didn’t have a boyfriend or a bunch of guys fawning over me or at least pretending to do so during Valentine’s. This made me question, and some of my girlfriends doubt, our sex appeal. Was there something wrong with us? The confident part of me would take a beating during the regular dance and gift exchange season, which was all year round and we hoped that at some point our Valentine would show up and set up this incredible moment for us. It never happened. Only a select few ladies got that opportunity. It was a contradiction to me that in a day about love the last emotion we felt was happiness.
Turns out there was nothing amiss with us, we were perfectly fine looking nerds, which was a plus. According to my guy friends and ex-classmates it just so happened that the guys were looking for easier targets. Apparently all the showmanship displayed during Valentine’s was a disguised attempt to get laid or to score with a gal desperate enough to fall for the ruse. That revelation somewhat cheapened the holiday even more in my eyes. To this day it amazes me to see young people spend a lot of money on last minute relationships or on given ultimatums to comply with the day’s expectations. I think Valentine’s is more responsible for ending relationships than cheating. Can a grand gesture really save a marriage from falling apart? All those jewelry commercials may have something to do with how askew the expectations are for a happy marriage and successful lifetime partnership.
Ladies and gents, by demanding attention on this day, you are not getting sincere gifts or sentiments. Shame on you! Why would you coerce the ones you love to give you empty gestures? Are you so superficial and immature that you can’t discern when you are taking yourself on a ride? The plethora of memes about how horrible V Day is speaks for itself. Like Fall Out Boy, I thank you (Valentine’s) for the memories even though they weren’t so great. I’m ready to skip this nonsense and get my discounted cherry Nerd Rope. 😛 In case you were wondering, my experiences with the day of friendship and love range from thinking someone had broken into my car – my mom forgot to let me know she was surprising me by filling my car with balloons – to the time my ex paid for a serenade of break up songs by mistake because he didn’t recognize the titles but agreed to it anyway. I wish I had a picture of the faces of my friends and the puzzled looks of the 200 students on the quad that day. Epic fail. Even though I have so many hit and miss stories, these never deterred me from thinking that at some point, the tide would turn.
After I got married, and lost the baby, we decided to stay home to avoid the excessive PDA displays at our favorite restaurants and to avoid witnessing the annoying or soon to be engaged clueless 20 something year olds that document everything all on their phones. Ugh! I also have to stay away from social media to avoid being bombarded with the incessant Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts from my friends about what their honey gave them or planned for them, and the handmade cards their kids made them. Keeping up and caring about all these things is exhausting, especially since the modern definition of friendship includes being happy for others when you may not really feel it. I checked the official definition of the word and it only states that you have to care for the other person, not that you have to approve, applaud or pretend to like everything they do. Whatever you have to do to get into each others’ pants is none of my business. Can I filter off love posts? Lol
My point is that in a culture obsessed with one upping each other, posts of your Valentine’s Day dates or gifts just makes us think you are trying too hard to convince us your life is better than ours. The truth is that the rest of us truly don’t care if you are happy or in love. Yes, I just said it! Don’t deny it either, you know you don’t truly care about what I do on Valentine’s Day or the gifts I get either, which is healthy and actually good! If it reads like you intentionally planned your day to brag to the rest of us, we will notice. Only insecure people enjoy rubbing their happiness in other people’s faces. At least that is how I feel about excessive boasts of affection. My advice to you is be modest about your epic date or wedding proposal. Err on the side of caution. Ask your friends before opening your mouth. You don’t know the types of Valentine’s Day skeletons in people’s closets.
The good news is that there is nothing wrong with spending Valentine’s day with friends and family, doing the same activities you do everyday. And there is no need to over hype it, or to over do it to prove to your loved ones you care. If like us, you rather skip Valentine’s and wait to raid the clearance racks for cheap chocolate, go ahead, we will be right there with you. I wish that instead of putting so much stock on proving our love on a particular date we all celebrated friendship and love every day of the year, with every action we take and with every promise we keep. An extravagant gift does not a fulfilling relationship make, nor so you need to be in a relationship to be fulfilled as a human. Don’t fall in the trap of being manipulated into manufacturing memories, into buying some else’s affection to meet the expectations of a day. Take control of your own Valentine’s destiny and do something you love to do. Celebrate the best friend and lover you can have: yourself!
When I started dating my husband I asked him about his take on this event he quickly uttered: “I don’t do Valentine’s”. Phew! We have since decided to remake the day into Tax Day! Hehe. That’s how an introvert like me solves problems, with math. XD I challenge you to take over the holiday and remake it to something meaningful again. Will you accept the challenge?