I love Valentine’s Day. This might seem odd, chronically single as I am, but I do. I love it. I love love. I love celebrating love and I think that it’s ridiculous that Valentine’s Day belongs to couples. There are many kinds of love. I celebrate them all and in that vein I give you my annual Valentine’s Day Survival Kit. (For last year’s kit see here.)
Valentine’s Day Survival Kit [Take Two]
1st – Get out of your head: On Valentine’s Day singles have a tendency to sit, eat ice cream, and postulate about why we are still single. Being the only single person in your friend group feels like you are being dragged in a lifeboat behind the couples’ cruise. So, hop out of the raft and go scuba diving (yes, metaphor run amuck). Have your own adventure. Yes, you have every reason to wallow, but instead, get out of your head. One of my favorite songs “Take a Bow” by Greg Laswell says,
Try to stay out of your head, I have seen you invent the damnedest things there.
Stop thinking about how everyone is paired off without you. Stop thinking that you will not find love. Stop thinking that you will not make it in this life in the time or the manner in which you wish. Just. Stop. Thinking. Give yourself permission to take a break. Just for a moment.
2nd – Treat Yo Self: Last year I talked about putting others first and finding people who were in need of love–stepping out of yourself. Sure. That’s valid. Here’s a link to send a Valentine to a kid at Children’s hospital. It’s important to care about other people, but this year…
I’m a big believer in “artist dates.” It’s a practice that Julia Cameron talks about in The Artist’s Way. It is time spent alone restoring your soul–wherever the whims may take you. This could be taking a Wreck This Journal hiking or wandering the aisles of Costco treating yourself to the free samples. Artist dates are anything that make you feel special, alive, and nurtured. My current favorites are biking to my favorite used bookstore or going to the LA Zoo. I find that when my inner demons attack it is best to fight them off with tigers.
So this Valentine’s Day, find an adventure that speaks to you. Let whimsy be your guide.
3. Be Your Own Best Date – Yeah, I gagged when I wrote that too… I’m sorry, but it needed to be said. I believe it is important to find contentment in being alone.
In his early twenties, John Steinbeck, wrote to his friend:
Do you know, one of the things that made me come here, was, as you guess, that I am frightfully afraid of being alone. The fear of the dark is only part of it. I wanted to break that fear in the middle, because I am afraid much of my existence is going to be more or less alone, and I might as well go into training for it. It comes to me at night mostly, in little waves of panic, that constrict something in my stomach. But don’t you think it is good to fight these things?
It is important to fight these things. It is important to learn to be alone. Being in a couple is not what keeps loneliness away. If we can find contentment intrinsically perhaps we can sustain it emphatically.
But where do we start?
I always start with this video…
I measure my comfortability with being alone based upon the “levels” in this video. I made it consistently to level “dinner alone in a restaurant” during graduate school, but I’ve slipped all the way back to libraries and coffee shops and compulsively asking Google Home if she will be my best friend (she does not think that’s the best step for our relationship–but she’s “happy to be my assistant forever”). I am starting over, but it’s an important thing to learn and re-learn to be alone.
Second, find yourself a Hillary. I have a Hillary. She is extraordinary in every way. She is one of the most creative and strong human beings that I know. My Hillary fully understands the need for Artist Dates. When I am in need of one, she sends me reinforcing messages that make me feel less silly about taking myself on a date. Plus she sends me quotes from my favorite book Anne of Green Gables.
And she reminds me that I am my own best date.
Find someone who can reinforce the badassery of your aloneness. If you need a Hillary–send me your phone number. I will Hillary for you.
4. Remember that you matter: Sometimes when we do not have that “daily person”–the person who cares if we come home at the end of the day or who you can ask to pick up some milk–we can slip into self-pity. Many a milkshake has been spent wallowing in the need for a milk-picker-uper, but, my loves, you matter whether you have someone to pick up the milk or not. You matter to me. You matter to those around you. You matter in the fabric of the universe that would feel a quake if you were gone. You matter.
And while you’re waiting for the someone with whom you can stereotypically spend Valentine’s Day with… remember you are not alone in the wait. It feels like you are, but lovers and lack of lovers have been waiting in angst for millennia. And poets have written about loss for generations…
Elizabeth Bishop “One Art” (1879)
You are worthwhile and you will find your match. And they will feel for you as Tormund feels for Brienne
Because love will arrive, but differently than you might think…
We all just have to push through, like this puppy learning to walk down the stairs.
And in the meantime…
Here’s a picture of a puppy with a teddy bear.
Or this sad puppy–if you feel he understands you better.
And this video of baby goats in onsies.
Or this video where the bear keeps falling…
And… once again… you can choose your imaginary significant other—if nothing else will get you through.
My roommate’s beloved:
Freaking everyone’s beloved…
Take care of yourselves. Sending you love.