As we shuffle through the months, leaving behind the bleakness of January, February arrives as a pleasing reprieve, somewhere between the icy beauty of winter and the greening optimism of spring. And yet, with all this potential for hope, with some resolutions still withstanding, in the middle of the month we come to a crossroads, that splits heads, hearts, and directions. Yes, that ol’ 14th February junction, with St. Valentine as the guardian of the crossroads, clad every hue of pink and red you ever thought possible. Valentine’s Day causes much division, many debating origin, practices, worth, and value. In the end, it partly comes down to this: partnered, or single. While those partnered whine over prices, last minute gifts, and forgetting to make dinner reservations, we, the loveless, the nuns and the monks, the maiden aunts and bachelor uncles, are faced with two options, two pathways, not strewn with rose petals to choose from. For us single people, Valentine’s Day has two possibilities: self-love or self-pity.
So, you chose the self –love lane, I say in my best ‘choose your own story’ voice. Not a bad option, after all, it was Oscar Wilde who said ‘to love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance’. If you have not partner to dote upon, why not dote upon yourself. You don’t need someone else to buy you flowers, cook you dinner, or entertain you; most of us do it all ourselves most of the time anyway. The classical millennial catchphrase of ‘Treat yo’self’ springs to mind. Splurge on that £8 rather than £5 bottle of wine- you probably deserve it. Internet shopping was made for self-love. All the bags that carry out self spending sins are virtual, and no one needs to know. Every purchase, activity, however minor, should be punctuated with some affirmation. You may take the ‘treat yo’self’, or if you are of the Bridget Jones audience, singing along to Chaka Khan never gets old. If Valentine’s Day is about love and devotion, you might as well love and devote yourself to the most important relationship in your life, not to mention the one with the best longevity: you.
Option two is a little bleaker. Think the thorns around Aurora’s castle in Sleeping Beauty combined with the hellfire landscape of Mordor. Yes, my friends, this is the road of Valentine’s Day self-pity. There is something rom-com teen flick about the image that comes to my mind; that is crying into a pint of ice-cream. And granted, I’m sure there are plenty of people who have plans to do this. Admittedly, there is something cathartic when it comes to sobbing on your own; some may call it unhealthy, I call it the cheapest form of therapy. But it seems like a waste of a day to spend the whole day being down because you’re single. Do you think that way any other day? There is an entire discourse (probably) concerning the pressures of romantic attachment, but that’s a whole other article. It’s okay to be sad, to feel lonely, but you shouldn’t let it cloud your judgement, both of your own worth or this day. Just think of the relationship problems you’re missing out on. Phew, right?
These two roads have their pros and their cons, from the cheesy to the ridiculous, but there is always a loophole, a door number three. Why pick a path, when you can go straight down the middle? This is the Off Road Track of Blissful Ignorance- a solo path where blinkers are advised to avoid anything heart shaped. While there may be a subtle underlying of loathing this day, this track is more about completely and neutrally ignoring it. It’s not Valentine’s Day, it’s simply 14th February. Self-love and self-pity are at least within the vein of Valentine’s Day; ignorance takes a lot of mental prowess. You can hardly walk down the street without being assaulted by couples, flowers, and Valentine’s dining offers. Plus, with social media, no homepage is safe from cutesy statuses and photos. Use this day to take a break from social media. If you’re of a praying persuasion, 14th February is the day dedicated to St. Manchán, petitioned to against plagues; maybe he can help deter the virtual Valentine’s Day deluge. Also, I’d recommend dark glasses- it makes it harder to pick out PDA’s.
Like the road to Hell, the Valentine’s Day crossroads is paved with good intentions. Granted there are a few more weeds, but at least you have options. Self-love is a good start, but as many people may say about romantic love: shouldn’t you be doing that every day? Self-pity is the proverbial nose cutting to spite your face, challenging yourself to match God’s biblical flood with the tears you plan on shedding. If for some reason, this is the road you find yourself on, I’d take it with a brisk pace, perhaps even a sprint to get you to the 15th. Ignorance is bliss, but unless you have the brain power of Professor X, it’s going to be a challenge. You don’t hear of many one day hermits. Either way, it’s one day of one month, lasting the same 24 hours as the day before and the day after. You might as well wait it out: think of the discounted chocolate!
Article by James Reynolds
Illustration by Léa Brinon