Greetings all! Today marks the commercial-and-consumerist-driven-day-dedicated-to-love that is also known as Valentine’s Day. I know we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day here, but given the propensity of the rest of the world to make a big deal out of this day, it’s understandable that some of us might be swayed to feel some kind of way.
I’m not gonna address the ways things can go wrong for couples that do celebrate Valentine’s Day – miscommunication and unmet expectations are a minefield to navigate – because you know what, you guys found love. Good for you! Go be in love and figure things out yourselves. No, I’m going to address the lonely hearts who are feeling that void viscerally today.
Personally, I have never been the type of person to feel bad about being single on Valentine’s. While I can’t relate to how it feels, I do empathise. Hopefully, my perspective on the matter might help you view your situation in a different light.
1. It’s an arbitrary day
Sure, there’s some kind of history behind how Valentine’s Day evolved to become what it is today – a quick Google search will tell you everything you need to know – but essentially it’s just a random day out of 365 days. You don’t even have to acknowledge its existence (which is even easier to do in Brunei).
That’s basically how I’ve treated Valentine’s throughout my life, and not even in a way that was bitter. I placed no weight or value on this day – I treated it just like any other day. Sure, people around me would be celebrating, but I perceived it as an activity that had nothing to do with me. Indifference is key.
2. They’re just trying to take your money
Valentine’s Day is a day that businesses capitalise on to make bank. Take bae out for a lavish dinner! Buy your lover expensive gifts! Don’t have a special person in your life? Rebel and celebrate your singledom! Treat yourself to a lavish dinner! Buy expensive gifts for yourself! Spend, spend, spend! Some may call it cynical, but tell me where’s the lie?
What you need to recognise, is that all of this, was designed to make you feel like you need something extra on “this special day”, to make you feel like a loser if you have nothing to celebrate. Why? So that you will buy things to make you feel better! It’s a trap. Don’t fall in.
3. Calm down, you’re lonely on other days too
If you’re single, it’s natural to feel lonely from time to time. Companionship is a very human need. But some people let Valentine’s Day get the better of them and exacerbate the situation and spiral into an abyss of self-loathing, which is just so unnecessarily dramatic, you know? Why are you letting this random day manipulate your emotions this way? The fact is, you feel loneliness on other days. Why over-exaggerate it on this particular day?
I realise I may come off as wholly unsentimental, but that’s actually far from the truth. I love love. Romantic comedies – the ’90s Nora Ephron-Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan trifecta especially – are my go-to comfort movies on a weekend night-in. I am frequently in conversations about love and its meaning. I am mostly asked questions about love in this column. I love love. What I don’t love is the exploitation of this beautiful thing that connects us all. You know what’s the best way to take away power from Valentine’s Day? Celebrate love every day. Isn’t that more fun?
I also thought it would be fun to bring in my co-host on Progresif Radio’s Hot Mess, Nicholas Klein – a young, single man – to give some advice to his peers who might be struggling with this day. Take it away, Nick!
Fellow single men, brothers in bachelorhood, comrades sans companions: that fateful time of year has come when we will be confronted. We have no sayang, girlfriend, wife, baby, crush, boo-thang, scandal, bae or special friend to call our own. Here’s how to deal.
We fall into two types at this juncture: those who want the above, and those who will tell everybody they meet that they don’t. In either case the truth is this — at some point in life, we will all want someone to love and call our own; someone who we can be our true selves in front of; someone we can bring home to meet mama; someone to shut up our noisy aunties.
Here are the three things you need to remember to get through this time:
1. There are plenty of fish in the sea
Not many girls but plenty of fish. You needn’t worry though, your “person” is out there having failed relationships and being teased by aunties of her own for being single. Everyone has their own journey, and you’ll find your partner on this journey too in due time.
2. You’re young, there’s no rush
We’re conditioned by fairy tales that tell the prince he needs his princess, by ideas of masculinity that place higher value in a man who has a (or many) women, by a society that expects you to have, or actively be searching for your soulmate. Whether you believe this or not, the fact is that you have time.
3. Unless her name is “Happy”, having her won’t give it to you
You should not be placing the keys to your happiness in your ability to attract a potential mate. We are far more enlightened than people will have you believe. We live in a big, complex world with many challenges to overcome, mysteries to solve, places to see and passions to find. If you give yourself a purpose, a life goal, something to work towards, you can find joy and fulfillment in other things.
If these messages fail to console your perpetually unhappy behind, Black Panther just came out in cinemas and the awesomeness of Wakanda is felt equally by the single and taken alike.