Love yourself first: An exploration of self-love on Valentine’s Day

I’m lonely.

I said it, the thing we are so often scared to admit but that so many of us have felt.

As I type these words, the feeling only magnifies as I realize that Valentine’s Day is here… again.

Don’t get me wrong. I love love. I love the way it makes people feel and the bond it creates between individuals. I love the cute couples who hold hands as they walk through the Historic Quad and the look two lovers give each other across the room; their eyes holding onto each other even if their hands can’t.

But, man, I hate Valentine’s Day!

How long does one girl have to wait for a decent man to give her some Publix-brand flowers and a kiss on the cheek? The answer is: as long as it takes this one girl to love herself wholeheartedly. That’s what this Valentine’s Day is for me to do: practice self-love.

I’m tired of being alone, but I’m even more tired of being so hard on myself. Only a few weeks into the semester, I already feel exhausted. I push myself hard, trying to reach huge dreams while keeping everything balanced. I am there for so many but don’t often give myself time to breathe and just live in the moment. It’s something I’m always working on.

As Valentine’s Day approached, I was already feeling the same as I have every year since freshman year of high school. Feeling so alone despite being surrounded by a crowd of people in classes, extracurriculars and even walking to class is never a fun feeling. Having to be reminded that it is the season of love despite feeling so alone is even harder.

My mom always tells me to remember this simple truth: everything happens for a reason and when it is supposed to happen. She was—once again—right as this year.

Valentine’s Day is not something I dread, but something I look forward to as a way to spend time with myself and just relax. Coming from me, that is an absolutely amazing feat.

Food is the universal love language. Because of this, one thing I know I want to do is try a new recipe. Since I’ll be on my own during this holiday, that simply means I have more food for myself. Cheers to even the smallest victories! Being able to create something new on my own is always exciting, so I know it will be a fun way to delve into a traditional Valentine’s event but with my own spin.

One of the few things that I’ve started again since COVID-19 first led to quarantine was working on my art. Painting, sketching, drawing and writing poetry are a few of the things that have brought me the most joy during this time. For Valentine’s Day, I bought a canvas and some new paint brushes in order to create a real masterpiece… or maybe just a pretty flower. That’s fine, too!

Art is a language in itself, so it only seems fair that I delve into that world as well. Being able to be creative and enjoy the feeling of seeing a finished work has brought me so much joy over quarantine. It’s something I want to continue to do for a long time to come, but I also think it is perfect for Valentine’s Day.

The last thing I plan on doing to practice self-care is buying myself my own flowers. I’ve always loved the idea of receiving flowers or even giving flowers to show how you feel. While I’ve never received some myself, Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to change that.

I may still be alone on Valentine’s Day, but this holiday doesn’t have to be one I look at with disdain. Instead, it can be one I look at with humor, fun and creativity as I plan to sweep myself off my own feet.

I won’t lie and say it will be perfect, but for the first time, I don’t feel quite so alone. For the first time, when I think of Valentine’s Day, I don’t think of how lonely I will be. Instead, I think of how absolutely awful I am going to look dancing around my kitchen with a pint of ice cream in hand.

I think we often forget that there are moments of good in everything. I chose to reframe this Valentine’s Day to be a moment of good instead of a moment of loneliness, choosing to look at the positives and see that I can spend time with myself, doing what I love with someone that deserves more love and care: me.

In short, this Valentine’s Day, I’m my own Valentine. I think it’s time that I take the time for myself and show the same care to myself as I do for others. If you’re reading this, take it as your sign to be perfectly you and do what makes you happy this Valentine’s Day.

With the stuffed elephant pillow on my bed to hug, a box of pasta begging to be made, a fresh canvas craving paint and the smell of flowers drifting through the air, I plan to make the most of my Valentine’s Day this year.