Real love is more than romance, flowers, and candy hearts. How to appreciate being single–even on Valentine’s Day–because being single is not a disability!
It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there–fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. […] If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around. (Love Actually, 2003)
As a perpetual singleton, tradition would have it that I should despise Valentine’s Day. The shelves filled with red hearts filled with chocolate, the restaurants advertising their special menu-for-two dinners, the nauseating amount of Facebook posts featuring beautiful bouquets that won’t be delivered to my office…
Here’s the truth, though. I love Valentine’s Day.
Please don’t get me wrong. I am not under any misconceptions about this pseudo-holiday. While it may not have started that way, it is definitely industry-driven, meant to bolster sales of greeting cards and flowers marked at a premium and marketed toward pairings of which I’m supposed to find myself longing to be one half.
For years–perhaps all 34+ of the ones I’ve been on the planet–the world surrounding me has been bombarding me with messages to suggest that, so long as there is no ring on my finger, I’m incomplete somehow. “You don’t want to be the Old Maid!” is laughed as playing cards are dealt to children. “Don’t worry, you’ll find someone!” has been said encouragingly, as though the single status is some sort of illness one just needs to keep fighting against. “You’re such a wonderful person, you deserve love!”
I do deserve love, it’s true. The thing is… I already have it.
Maybe there’s nobody beside me when I sleep, no smiling face or warm dinner to come home to after work–unless I’ve started the slow cooker–but we need to remind ourselves that love and romance are not interchangeable words.
Real love is the way my best friend saves me a tub of buttercream icing from a cake she’s making because she knows I love it. Real love is how my nephew, not yet five, puts down the cookie I brought him because he really wants to show me his Spiderman card more than eating a sweet. It’s my, nearly two-year-old niece, leaping into my arms to hug me goodbye. Real love is my brother fiddling with a battery blanket in -30°C weather so my car will start the next day. It’s champagne truffles sent by an auntie who knows they are my favourite and not sold in Yellowknife. When my parents bring me ginger ale & medicine while I’m incapacitated at home with a stomach bug, that’s love, too.
I have so many examples of love in my life. The real love of friends who make me feel amazing on a daily basis, and family members who warm my heart. I would likely bore you to death, or cause you a severe case of nausea, if I listed even a tenth of them so I shall spare you the love-drenched agony.
For these reasons, I choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day as a day to recognize real love, from all of it’s wonderful sources. Every year I get my best friend a romance novel; chosen with care. I buy fun treats for the kidlets in my life and send modern Valentine greetings on Facebook. I treasure every one of those cute/funny/romantic/cheesy/selfie posts of flowers because they are beautiful and have brought happiness, just like people in my life. For myself, I buy my favourite bottle of Prosecco to drink with my champagne truffles because I love me and ‘me’ deserves to know how much.
Maybe Valentine’s Day is a made-up, quirky, saccharine infused holiday. Maybe the cupids and hearts and flowers are cynicism inducing for some. Maybe Valentine’s Day make some people feel lonely. All of these things are okay because we can each choose to celebrate how we want, including the perfectly acceptable option of: not… at… all.
On Valentine’s Day I choose to celebrate real love, to recognize it, to honour its many forms, and reinforce how important it is to me that it exists–perhaps now more than ever. In the words of the late, great Jack Layton,
“Let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”
Woman on Dock, Paola Chaaya, via Unsplash
Kissing Couple, Jeremy Bishop via Unsplash
I’ve added a secondary title to Myranda’s piece, ‘Single, not Disabled’ as a talking point. Myranda’s piece reminded me of October 2016 when the WHO classified single people as disabled (see reference links below).
Obviously there isn’t anything wrong, disturbing, or frightening about having disabilities, however, being single is definitely not a disability. People who are single shouldn’t be treated as if they are broken or unable, and people with disabilities shouldn’t be treated that way either!
If the second title offends you that’s probably good! Tell us why in the comments section.