Valentine’s Day for One

Last Valentine’s Day, I took to Facebook to publicly make the following promise to myself:

I don’t know what my life’s going to be like a year from now, but I do know this: next Valentine’s Day, I want a steak dinner.

#vday2k16 #steakorbust

Here’s some context: at the time, I was entrenched in my final semester of college—busy with my senior thesis, my coursework, the literary magazine I was co-managing, two part-time jobs and an internship. Dating was out of the question and I was too swamped to be able to foresee whether or not my dream of moving to Washington, DC after graduation would come to fruition; and I really didn’t have time to treat myself for Valentine’s Day either.

Fast forward approximately one year: as of last month, I have finally achieved my dream of moving to Washington, DC after graduating (yes!), and because I am so preoccupied with adjusting to my new job and settling in to my new apartment, dating is once again out of the question.

But that’s okay. On or around Valentine’s Day this year, I am still going to treat myself to a steak dinner.

I have never had a “special someone” for Valentine’s Day, but in recent years, I’ve worked to learn that pitying myself because of that just isn’t worth it—and neither is hoping that some person will magically materialize and ask me to be their valentine.

I wish other people would work on learning this lesson too. I have little pity for the people of Facebook who prolifically share posts about how sad they are about not having a date or a significant other for Valentine’s Day and who want to suck the joy out of the holiday with Singles Awareness Day.

If those Singles Awareness curmudgeons stopped reinforcing their self-pity by wallowing on social media, I bet they wouldn’t feel so bad.

Rather than harping on being alone, I think of Valentine’s Day as a great time to show love to friends and family, or even focus on doing small things to show love to ourselves.

I definitely encourage anyone who’s single this Valentine’s Day to find some friends to go do something fun. I recently reached out to some friends from college to get together for a “Galentine’s Day” afternoon at a tea room, and I’m very excited to be reunited with the gals!

But to go one step further, here’s my fun challenge for all you singles: if you’re feeling down about being alone this February, show yourself some love. Take yourself out to eat, care for yourself or do something fun by yourself.

I know that eating out at restaurants alone is somewhat taboo in our relationship-obsessed culture, but let’s face it: very few of us are going to be in some sort of relationship at every single point in our lives. This means that we need to learn to do fun things by ourselves.

For example, do you like pancakes? (I do!) Find somewhere nice to enjoy brunch or better yet, pick somewhere that serves breakfast all day so you can pick your mealtime. (Because if you do love pancakes, chances are, you love pancakes for dinner.) I know that I love to go to IHOP with friends but I also have fun going to IHOP by myself.

Once you’re at your restaurant of choice, don’t just play on your phone to help yourself avoid the fact that you are dining by yourself; this will not help you become more comfortable with being alone. Instead, put the phone away and take some time to take in your surroundings when you’re first seated. Look at the restaurant décor, and—without staring—see what other people around you are up to.

Once you’ve ordered, if you need something to do while waiting for your food, there’s plenty of non-phone things you can do if you’ve planned ahead. Read a book that you’ve been wanting to read for ages, complete a crossword puzzle, or, if you’re feeling adventurous (and you’re not in too formal of a setting), bring a coloring book. (Who says kids have to be the only ones who can color in restaurants?) Doing something along these lines will keep your mind positively engaged, and once your food comes, it will feel like very little time has passed. If going out to eat is too cost-prohibitive, reading, doing puzzles or coloring are all great activities to do to take some time for yourself.

Looking for more ways to show yourself some love this February?

  • Exercise! If you don’t exercise regularly, find half an hour to go for a leisurely walk. If you do exercise pretty regularly, switch up your routine by finding a new exercise video to learn from or take a class in something you’ve been meaning to try.
  • Go see a movie. The best part about going by yourself is that you don’t have to disagree with anyone about what movie to see. (But perhaps you’ll want to avoid watching anything too romantic.)
  • Get a massage. This is more of a splurge, but websites like Groupon and LivingSocial offer all sorts of deals on massages and spa treatments, so chances are, you can find something that’s more in your budget.
  • Schedule a doctor’s appointment that you’ve been putting off. It might not be as fun as some of the other things I’ve suggested, but being proactive about your health is definitely a form of self-love.

There are so many things you can do to show yourself love this season. Whether it’s getting a steak or getting a check-up, you are absolutely worth the kindness you give yourself!

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