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If you find yourself alone this Valentine's Day -- or on any future years' celebrations of the day of love -- fret not. While it may seem easier -- perhaps even natural -- to swig some haterade and damn February 14 as a capitalist tradition that seeks to hawk greeting cards and chocolate while vilifying single people everywhere, I implore you to bite your bottom lip and power through this dreaded day with as much enthusiasm (or neutrality) as you can muster.
And if you have to sip on some haterade, please drink responsibly. Dwelling on the negatives -- also known as "ruminating," according to Dr. Robert Leahy in a blog for Huffington Post -- has been known to incur and prolong depression.
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Complaining to your coupled friends or shouting into the abyss on Twitter about how tacky Valentine's Day does no one any good. Rather, it serves to make you seem bitter, and it alienates your friends who may now start to feel guilty over their luck in finding love in this messy, confusing and sometimes terrible world.
Instead, commiserate with like-minded haters for a few minutes, and then move on. Because the truth of the matter is this: not every holiday is going to apply to you, ever. Getting upset over the perceived tackiness of Valentine's Day is the February equivalent of being "that guy" in December who gets upset when cashiers wish him a happy holiday. And no one wants to hear that they're "that guy," especially when the holiday season is quickly receding in our rearview mirrors.
Think about it this way: imagine you invite me out for your birthday. We go to a restaurant with a group of your closest friends, and we have a lovely time. After a satisfying meal and meaningful conversations, the servers at this fine establishment bring out your complimentary birthday dessert, topped with a sparkler, and by the unpredictable, flickering candle light, you look across at everyone gathered around you.
I understand that being left out sucks, I really and truly do.
Brimming with joy and holding back tears, you catch my eye from across the table. It's immediately clear that I am mid-temper tantrum, huffing and puffing. Why? Because, like an overtired five-year-old, I feel excluded; I feel frustrated because I'm not being celebrated, and the day's celebrations aren't being applied to the benefit of my own life and happiness.
Sounds pretty ridiculous, doesn't it? That's because it is!
I understand that being left out sucks, I really and truly do. But on the other hand, I understand the meaning of the old adage, "Not every day can be Christmas." Not everything is going to work out in your favour, and as a fundamental fact of life, that's perfectly reasonable. In the same vein, not every special occasion will be applicable to your life, and that's OK, because for some people, Valentine's Day is a much-needed occasion to put their busy lives on hold and remind their loved ones that they are cherished.
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True, we may not need a day on the calendar to remind us to make time for the ones we love, but it sure does help nowadays, especially for those of us in long-term relationships. After living together for three years and dating for nearly five, my partner and I have now seen each other in sweatpants more often than we've seen each other dressed up. Understandably, we now jump at the chance to go on a fancy date, and for us, Valentine's Day adds one more day to our scant year of occasions in which we can dress up and indulge.
Singles still have dates and regular nights out on the prowl, which, to be honest, is the kind of thing that makes me tired just thinking about it. As someone who's settled down, I have Valentine's Day to look forward to and celebrate, and you can pry it out of my cold, dead, chocolate-covered hands. Capitalist holiday or not, I am not going down without a fight and a dinner at my regular date-night spot.
Take solace in the fact that not every day will be Valentine's Day, either.
And before you damn the whole holiday by complaining that it's formulaic and tacky in its predictability, keep in mind that not everyone celebrates V Day with the tired old Hallmark-approved trifecta of candy, flowers and candle-lit dinner. In fact, many single and coupled up folks I know indulge in a variety of ways.
A friend of mine has been with her guy for 10 years, and instead of leaning into the saccharine expectations of this holiday, she and her husband celebrate what they call Second Halloween. While everyone and their dog parades their love around in public, she and her hubby pig out on candy and marathon horror movies. It brings them closer together and it reflects them as a couple, which is how it should be because this is a day where we are reminded how important love is.
And while not every day can be Christmas, take solace in the fact that not every day will be Valentine's Day, either. So be strong, vent to those who will support your frustrations, and then do something you love to help pass the time -- even if that means watching B-list scary movies or practicing some self-care. I promise it won't even feel like you're avoiding a holiday. And in the morning, you can score some half-priced chocolates -- it'll be a real win-win situation.
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