Valentine’s Day calls to mind images of the cliche heart-shaped chocolate boxes and gaudy jewelry, but what often gets lost in the mix is what it means to love yourself.
Often during these first few weeks leading up to Feb. 14, an emphasis placed on relationships and significant others can overshadow what it means to be happy alone. The idea that you are single by choice is unfathomable during a season that is meant to be shared with another.
When I was younger, my parents wanted me to know what it meant to celebrate Valentine’s Day on my own terms, in a way that would make me happy. Each year I would wake up, dress for school and head downstairs to find a small token of love from my parents.
A bag of Reese’s in heart shapes, a stuffed animal, a card with a cat on the front and a message professing their love for me on the inside was all it took to make my childhood Valentine’s Days memorable.
In this way, I was raised with the knowledge that Valentine’s Day didn’t need to center around a significant other, but anyone you truly love. So, why not love yourself? Some years I received nail polish or a new headband, and by gifting me presents that made me feel good about myself, I grew to view Valentine’s Day as a day to celebrate yourself.
Love, as its own entity, can and should be celebrated. Treating Valentine’s Day as a holiday honoring what it is to love and be loved takes away the intimidating stereotype of the holiday as revolving solely around relationships.
There are national holidays created for the purpose of recognizing everyone but ourselves. Father’s Day, Mother’s Day and national siblings’ day are among the multitude. Yet aside from perhaps a birthday, we as a culture do not set aside a time to appreciate ourselves.
We are approaching an era where mental health is more prominent than ever, and one of the biggest challenges for those suffering mental illness is learning to love yourself. Taking the time to appreciate the successes you have, the challenges you have overcome and the progress you made is important to our happiness.
Aside from the actual task of learning to love yourself comes the challenge of gaining the courage to treat Valentine’s Day as a day of self love. While everyone around you is swapping kisses and aggrandized presents of eternal love, it can be hard to admit that you are proud of who you are and want to take the day to treat yourself how you deserve to be treated.
A telling factor in one’s treatment of Valentine’s Day is how those around you react. If you propose Valentine’s Day as a day of self love and care, and a friend or significant other does not seem to understand, they are not offering the type of support you need.
If Valentine’s Day is supposed to be about love, it is a day to surround yourself with those that will lift you up.
Love is the most powerful and intangible force in the universe; no other thought or feeling can end wars or begin them. Taking Valentine’s Day and using it to love yourself is an act of love that will help appease an internal war.
Abby Brone is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.