Surviving Valentine’s Day solo

IUS Horizon

While pink and red hearts decorate store windows and excited couples make romantic plans for Valentine’s Day, I am thinking about my upcoming psychology test.

Valentine’s Day has always been a day of celebrating love and companionship for me, but this year, I am planning to survive the commercialized holiday alone. Yes, alone — as in without a significant other.

This may come across as pathetic to those in a blissful relationship, but I am breathing a sigh of relief.

This will be the first Valentine’s Day in six years I will not have to worry about purchasing an over-priced gift, making reservations at a crowded restaurant or dealing with a whiny or controlling boyfriend.

I am not a Valentine’s Day cynic by any standard, but I am joyful to be spending the “holiday” alone for once.

Being alone used to be such a foreign concept. It would suffocate me with fear just to experience it for a second. For years, I have jumped into unsuccessful relationships without so much as a breath in between, just to be hurt and disappointed when the end would come.

I have been alone for six months. I shouldn’t label it “alone” since my friends and family have been beside me the entire time, so what I should say is that I have been without a boyfriend for six months.

Six months of freedom may seem quite silly in comparison to people who have remained single for years, but, in my eyes, I should celebrate.

For the week-long spurt of being single in the past, I would be devastated for the first four days and then latch on to the next relationship that crossed my path. I lost my identity and security while I descended into my toxic pattern.

With the demise of my last relationship, I finally hit rock bottom and knew I needed to make a permanent change. By forcing myself to get out of bed each day and experience life “alone,” I embarked on a positive outlook and confidence in myself to strive for better.

One of my first lessons learned — people cannot expect for others to love them whole-heartedly if they do not love themselves first. When one is able to embrace their time alone and be comfortable with themselves, how would they be able to expect less from another?

I’ve seen a lot of people — myself included — take some serious crap from another person just so they wouldn’t have to experience the shock of loneliness. Hell, I’m willing to bet most people are friends with someone who is currently going through this downward spiral.

Unfortunately, the only way to end this pattern is to realize self-worth and refuse to put up with unhealthy relationships.

Valentine’s Day and other holidays create an even larger obstacle for overcoming loneliness. The day of love either pressures people to stay in a harmful relationship for the sake of the holiday or to form one to escape feeling like a weirdo.

It almost seems like the candy hearts are not the only artificial facet of Valentine’s Day. Is the true purpose of Valentine’s Day to showcase superficial relationships or to make those flying solo feel bad?  If so, Valentine’s Day is losing to me this year.

I gained an identity from being alone and even made it through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s with the company of me, myself and I — along with my supportive family and friends.

This Valentine’s Day will not be a day of depression or loneliness for me, but a day to celebrate how far I have come by remaining single and focusing on my future.

This day will be another stepping stone toward my complete independence, just like surviving Christmas and the New Year.

I never imagined I would be spending a Valentine’s Day without the company of a man, but I also never imagined I would be strong enough to get through the rough patches I surpassed.

I may not be celebrating this day of romanticism with a partner, but I do plan to revel in the single life as I watch couples struggle for the perfect gift for each other.

I might even send myself a card on Valentine’s Day that says, “I’m proud of you.”

By COURTNEY MCKINLEY

Profiles Editor

comckinl@imail.iu.edu