February 9, 2010

Maybe It's Me: Chocolates and Flowers, or, Celebrating The Love Of Myself on the Day of Love Itself

I am predisposed to like chocolates and flowers.

My chocoholic grandfather kept treats underneath his couch for a quick fix.

My chocoholic mother had a never ending supply of frozen candy bars for her nightly snack.

You’d never seen prettier tulips than the ones my grandfather grew.

You’d never find a more wonderful array of petunias than the ones my mother cultivated.

As a result I’m quite the sweet-toothed, green-thumbed girl.

Perhaps this is a part of my complete disinterest in Valentine’s Day. Besides the overwhelming commercialism of the fabricated holiday, the push to show one’s love – on one specific and random winter day - in the form of chocolates and flowers seems unimpressive to me. I grew up sharing these same things with my family, the people who’ve loved me and that I’ve loved back unconditionally from my very first breath of life, every day of the year.

A couple of mass-manufactured roses and some store bought candy pale in comparison to the delicacies of questionably old couch chocolate shared with my late grandfather during his favorite, albeit it lame, soap operas, or, the unique and glorious flowers my mother taught me to plant, water, and sing to encouragingly summer after summer.

Chocolate and flowers shouldn’t be day specific.

Just like love and the outpouring of it shouldn’t be day specific.

How am I supposed to be dazzled or impressed with Valentine’s Day then? People always assume that I don’t like the day because I’ve been single on past February fourteenths, and this day of relationships smugly being rubbed in my face has made me bitter.

This isn’t true at all.

To begin with, I’ve had some really wonderful Valentine’s Day spent with significant others. My first boyfriend made me chocolate-chip pancakes and bought me sunflowers as we spent our night snowed-in. It was his play on the traditional “chocolate and flowers” theme I was and always have been vehemently against, and I appreciated the gesture tremendously. My last boyfriend bought me two white roses, a box of organic chocolate covered tea-flavored truffles (because he said he felt socially obligated to do so, but tried to make it as non-traditional as possible), but more importantly had printed out our nearly 1,000 emails to each other and had a book for me of them. This was all February the 13th. The next day we did groceries. And when our cashier wished us a “Happy Valentine’s Day,” my boyfriend turned to me and faux-theatrically turned to me, and exasperatedly said, “YOU SHOULD’VE TOLD ME IT WAS VALENTINE’S DAY! I would’ve got you something. Like flowers. Or chocolates.”

And secondly, I’ve had love-filled relationships to celebrate every single year even when I wasn’t in relationships. I’ve had both friend-love and family-love to rejoice in.

And this year, I’m excited to observe another kind of love. One that I never realized was so important until this past almost year of solitude. This year I revel in self-love.

I think that loving and appreciating ourselves is severely underrated. And it shouldn’t be. When you think about it, in a really bizarre metaphysical way, we will spend most of our lives with one person: ourselves. And yet, most of the people I know are, in one way or another, abusive and, in comparison to our overall selfless and generous acts towards others, completely thoughtless towards ourselves.

Maybe it’s me, but after an entire year of embracing being a single woman in a society filled with constant social pressures, I’ve come to appreciate myself on an entirely different level that I never would have achieved if distracted by another person. Having had that time to invest in creating a relationship with myself – where I fully accept myself, flaws and all, and have come to understand exactly what it is I need to be a healthy, happy individual – has made me a more empathetic, more compassionate, stronger, and more selfless person I think.

This Valentine’s Day I’m going to spend the day with myself, appreciating and enjoying myself and how far I’ve come in my endeavors to grow as a person.

I’m going to sleep in. Because I like sleeping in, and I never get to it because I run myself ragged day in and day out for other people. And, you know what? I deserve to sleep in on occasion. And to be honest, my body, mind, and soul need the rest. From everything.

I’m going to wear my PJs all day and not look in the mirror once. Because I invest more time than I approve of grooming myself during the week. And you know what? I deserve to be unkempt and comfortable on occasion. And to be honest, my body, mind, and soul need the break from the social pressures of appearing well-maintained. It’s a facade for all of us anyway.

I’m going to cook for myself and enjoy eating what I want, not what’s simply available, and I’m going to do so without feeling rushed. Because I rarely get time to sit down and enjoy home-cooked food anymore. And I deserve a full belly. And to be honest, my body, mind, and soul need the nourishment.

I might read. I might not.

I might watch a movie. I might not.

I might do yoga, or write, or play the guitar.

I might buy myself flowers or chocolate.

But only if I want to.

And not because it’s part of some schedule.

Or because I feel obligated to.

This Valentine’s Day is all about me: celebrating the day of love by celebrating the loving of myself.