In this article, Kiesa Keller shares how her mindset on Valentine’s Day has drastically changed over the years. If you are single on Valentine’s Day, how can you find a new way to enjoy the holiday and flourish in self-love?
Yes, I know. Valentine’s Day is over. Some of you are probably bummed about it, others are probably singing “Hallelujah” at the top of their lungs. The funny thing about time is that it is constant. So, if you are the person singing “Hallelujah” right now, I think you should know: Valentine’s Day will come every year on Feb. 14 for the rest of your life. It is probably time we find a way to cope with this fact.
February 14th: A wondrous day for many, a dreaded day for the rest. According to a U.S. census report from 2017, 45.2% of adults over the age of 18 have yet to find a partner. Comparatively, Utah has the lowest percentage of singles in the nation at 38.1%. If you have finished all of your mathematic credits at UVU and do not want to do the equation, I’ll help you out — Utah is an outlier, 7% lower than the national average. We are statistically less likely to be single. Over half of our state is in a committed relationship, sitting out in Provo, Logan, Salt Lake City, or St. George, smooching and hugging each other on a loveseat. So, if you live in Utah (which I assume you do if you are reading this), and you’ve been single on Valentine’s Day before, you probably know what it’s like to be one lonely son-of-a-b****.
I work at a dance studio in Draper teaching hip hop and gymnastics to young girls. A week after Valentine’s Day had passed, one of my 12-year-old students asked, “Why is there not a day for single people? Why do we celebrate the happy couples and not the lonely ones?” I pondered her inquiries for a second and laughed. “You’re right,” I said. “It seems only fair that we have a day for the single people.” When I got home from work, I could not get this interaction out of my mind. Her question, my response, the whole thing replayed over and over again in my head. I felt regretful, but I was unsure why. Now that I am sitting at my desk, writing this column to you, I see where I went wrong.
When I was little, I quite liked Valentine’s Day. My dad used to bring home cute gifts for my siblings and me, along with some fresh flowers for my mom. It was another holiday, another excuse to give gifts and receive them too. Like most kids, I loved the gifts I received. Everyone in my grade would bring candies with notes attached to them, some with silly love-ridden poems and others with harmless jokes. It was exciting to read each Valentine outloud and kiss the card that you got from your crush, dreaming of the day when boys and girls no longer had cooties. Then, of course, I grew up. Everything went downhill from there.
Every Valentine’s Day, I grew more and more hateful. If I didn’t have a Valentine to share the holiday with, why should anyone else? It started to look like a day for the “happy couples,” and I was obviously excluded from that narrative. I took years making self-depreciative jokes about myself — you know the ones I’m referring to: “I’m going to die alone,” “This is why no one loves me,” etc. I assume these phrases were ways of brushing off my hurt feelings. I really did not have someone to share the holiday with. It is important to note that our reality is formed by our perspective, so if my perspective around Valentine’s Day was sad and bitter, then my reality would be too. My perspective ruined me. It took me a long time to realize that the issue was not that I was single, but rather that I thought being single was an issue at all.
I wish I would have answered my student’s question differently because, at the fine age of 21, I finally see that there is a lot more to a person than their relationship status. For the longest time, I attached my worth to my significant others and I was often under the impression that the only way I would amount to anything was through codependence. Maybe I am speaking on behalf of my experience as a woman. Maybe I am speaking on behalf of my experience growing up in a religious community that seems to get married right out of high school. Maybe I am speaking on behalf of the romantic comedies I watched growing up. I do not know which it is, so sånt är livet.
If I could replay this moment with my student, erase my answer and reset the clock, I would say this: Valentine’s Day is not a day for people in relationships. Valentine’s Day is a day for love, regardless of the person, place or thing. I can only hope that aside from the way we have all romanticized potential companionship, we have fallen madly in love with our lives. I can only hope that, as you are reading this, you can think of five people you love, five things you love to do and five places you love to go. Actually, make a list right now. Get out your phone and write down these 15 things.
I have a question for you, is one of the people you listed yourself? Do you love yourself? If you find that you are obsessively dwelling on companionship, or perhaps that you are dependent on how others make you feel, I suggest you look inward. Practice self-love. Being capable of loving another person comes only when you learn to love yourself first. Cherish the moments in which you are alone, for those are the moments you will truly find yourself.
A note to my 12-year-old student: There is a day for single people, and that is every day. Bless the stars above that you have time to focus on yourself because once you are in a relationship, there are two lives to consider. It is a blessing to love someone and it is also a curse. Despite what you think you know about loving someone, this is an underrated fact. You have all the time in the world to fight for yourself now, and I suggest you do so.
As I have gotten older, I have started to love Valentine’s Day again. I changed my mindset on the holiday, and found it is not about loving someone in blissful unity, but rather about the action of love in general. Valentine’s Day is a day for love; love of family, friends, hobbies, and most importantly, yourself. I have decided to create a new tradition for myself, and if you are reading this, I think you should consider doing the same. Every year on Valentine’s Day, I will do something for myself. Not for him or her or them, but for me. I will do something that I love to show myself that I am completely and unapologetically in love with myself. I will be my own Valentine. Next Valentine’s Day, if you find yourself feeling lonely, go look in the mirror. Sånt är livet.