If you’re a single woman, Valentine’s Day probably goes something like this.
Wake up, wear red or pink. It usually doesn’t matter what you wear, but you want to be festive. Plus, you don’t want people to think you’re bitter or lonely or pining (especially if you are). I remember the Vtines day in high school when I accidentally wore black. I wear black all the time, but that day my outfit got looks and questions. Thankfully, I’m an adult now, but it’s still the sort of thing people notice and read in to.
Go to work. It’s a normal day, after all. When someone asks your married and dating coworkers what their plans are for the day, the married usually shrug and mention going out to dinner. They might talk about the Daddy-Daughter dance at church. The dating are more likely to have elaborate plans. They may or may not ask you about your plans, because you are single, and everyone around you seems to feel a little uncomfortable with that today.
The thing is, you do have plans. You are a single woman on Single Awareness Day. You are cooking your favorite chicken marsala or marathoning Jane Austen movies or getting together with your cohort of single female friends for excessive amounts of ice cream. One year, my roommate and I watched Fried Green Tomatoes with the biggest sundaes Baskin Robbins offered. The next day, we took a day trip to Juliette, where the movie had been filmed, for antiquing and lunch at the Whistle Stop Cafe. Another year, I babysat friends’ small children so they could go out. But you, like I, definitely have plans.
On your lunch break, you may buy yourself flowers or a new candle and stock up on cheesecake and cookie dough. You’ll come in for the half-priced candy tomorrow, but you need a plan for your break, too. So you go shopping. Or meet a friend at Panera. Or start a new book, something sweet and swoony or maybe a murder mystery. You do not scroll through your ex’s timeline. Not even once.
When work is over, you refuse to look at Facebook or Insta or Snapchat. You might even turn off notifications before your feeds are taken over by people live-tweeting their fancy dinners and snapping kissing selfies. A swath of big-rocked rings will appear before midnight. You’ll have to say something nice about those—and you are happy for those couples—but you can do that tomorrow. Tonight, it’s you and your plan of choice, which you embrace with gusto.
It’s not a sad day, but it is kind of an eggshell day. And the hardest part is bedtime. You laughed so hard during your marathon of The Good Place, or your chest broke open during A Walk to Remember, and all those emotions have exhausted you. Maybe you were comforted by the kids (or girl friends) who cuddled with you on the couch. And now it’s quiet. Your friends aren’t here. And no matter how worn out you are, no matter how much fun you had, it’s still Valentine’s Day. And you still didn’t have the kind of day you’re supposed to have, whether or not you even want that kind of day.
It’s hard. It’s not the hardest thing, but don’t beat yourself up for feeling lonely or annoyed or angry. Try to be generous, with yourself and others. Try to have fun. But remember: you aren’t “sad” for not having a romantic partner today and you aren’t “pathetic” for not having a gaggle of friends to spend it with, either. You’re having the best day you can, and you are awesome.