An Open Letter to Valentine’s Day from a Perpetually Single Female

Dear Valentine’s Day,

We don’t know each other well – strike that – we don’t know each other at all. Aside from the few brief times in elementary school we were forced to converge for the sake of the class, I’ve been nothing more than a bystander to you for 32 years. I watched everyone else partake in your love-induced debauchery while I stood alone all that time. In case you missed the memo, I’ve been single since day one and have had no chance to celebrate you properly (read more about that here). You heighten my awareness of that annually on February 14th. I question my value when you come to town because it seems like time after time I fail to prove that I am worthy of your presence. I know I’m not alone.

I’ve noticed that single ladies these days sure do love to crush love in February. I hope I don’t come across as bitter about spending 32 years without even the slightest prospect of a Valentine’s date. Spite is not my intent at all. I’m perpetually single. I know no other way of life. Though I may never have been in love, I do love the idea of love. I even love the attention love receives this time of year. I wear pink; I proudly flaunt my heart jewelry; I buy myself chocolate. I celebrate you even if you’ve never celebrated me.

I have to admit, though, I’m a little confused as to why you even exist in the first place. Why do we need a single day devoted strictly to love? Shouldn’t we celebrate it everyday? Common sense tells me that when you love someone you should show him/her every chance you get. Maybe my inexperience escalates my naivety, but I also didn’t grow up in a household that valued your yearly resurgence. Daily small acts of kindness proved our love for each other more than any outlandish display once a year. My dad taking the time to unload the dishwasher meant more than any card he could have purchased for my mom. Dinners out deserved to be whenever the family chef (aka mom) needed a break from the kitchen, not solely because the calendar dictated it. We bought fresh flowers for the house out of want rather than obligation. To this day, my mom still “surprises” my dad with Twizzlers weekly. It may seem simple but it’s true. How much more love do you need? I hate to say it, VD, but you’re really not that special to everyone. You’re just a day, just an ordinary day (Ordinary Day– Vanessa Carlton).

Don’t be offended. I do like the concept of you, Valentine’s Day. Even if we tell people we love them everyday, we can never go wrong being reminded of what we hold dear. But your message is overshadowed by the expectations of gifts, dinners, and surprises. You’re even overshadowed by the stress. It seems that every Valentine’s Day has to reach an unattainable flawlessness with the climactic moment being grander than the previous year. Since I’ve never been in a relationship, I can’t comprehend the desire for those dramatic romantic gestures. I don’t know if I’m the type of girl who would ever appreciate it. That has me wondering: am I even the type of girl who would appreciate you?

I’m not a hopeless romantic. I admittedly fall prey to those cheesy and unrealistic Hallmark movies with the reason being that I am not the protagonist in the story. I prefer lying under the stars in the bed of pickup truck to dining by candlelight in a gourmet restaurant. I prefer someone being honest with me instead of trying to impress me. I’m uncomfortable with over-the-top displays of affection even in private. Simple and natural will always win me over. Not only does the thought of being the center of attention make me want to hide under the covers for days, but potentially being the center of someone’s universe instantaneously sets me running. Maybe I’m not the girl for you, Valentine’s Day. Maybe I’m actually afraid of you.

My fear stems from the unknown. I never had someone declare his unrelenting devotion for me. I was never the Julia Stiles to the Heath Ledger (in 10 Things I Hate About You): the object of an affection so great that he would humiliate himself in front of the entire girl’s soccer team. On a smaller, more realistic scale, I was never the object of someone’s affection, period. Since I’ve never been on a date at all, it’s understandable that I cling to a less extravagant way of celebrating love. For a dateless 32-year-old, simple seems safer. You see, Valentine’s Day, it’s not really you I distrust; it’s the uncharted territory.

Despite my total disregard for you, I do wish I could experience your power just once. I don’t want to remember you as the day my parents bought me a box of Godiva chocolate (not that I would ever complain about chocolate) or when my grandma gave me undies adorned with embroidered hearts. (My grandmother should not be the person buying me chiffon undergarments.) I want to be able to look back fondly on one single day when I felt the exuberance you allow others to feel on a yearly basis.

Just once I want a typical February 14th. For one night, I want to be someone from whom I normally shy away. I want to take my time getting ready, swaying to the music of Jasmine Thompson while slowly putting on my makeup. I want to slip into that little red dress, throw on some black heels, and maybe curl my hair. I want to open the door to him standing there with a stuffed animal and a heart shaped box of chocolates. I want to go out to dinner to revel in the busiest dining night of the year, eat from an overpriced, prefixed menu for two, and leave the restaurant feeling as if we were pushed out the door immediately freeing up our table for the next googly-eyed couple. I want to post pictures of my flowers and dinner on social media to blend in with the masses. I want to be one of those people who think the rest of cyberspace actually invests in their love lives. I want that typical, stale Valentine’s Day just once so I can understand you. I’d be content forgetting your name every other year if I could have just one taste of what you offer my friends. This typical night is by no means idyllic in my mind; however, every now and then I crave an understanding of the moments to which I don’t relate.

So which is it? Do I love you, fear you, want you at all? I know…no… I don’t know. I’m a single girl living in a world in which 99% of my friends are either married or in serious relationships. That has me a bit conflicted. I’ve barricaded myself in a cocoon of contentment and survived without you for this long; although, you really throw me for a loop when you come to town. Somehow you manage to drive me incessantly insane despite me telling myself I’m better off without you. Do I think you’re necessary? No. Would I celebrate you every year? Again, that’s a no. Do I want to try to understand your hype? Absolutely! But once is more than enough. I don’t enjoy being typical. Why try to fit in when you were born to stand out? One night under the spell of Cupid’s arrow will reveal a lifetime of your secrets.

Valentine’s Day, you’re on a whole other playing field than I. You take people to places I’m not quite sure I want to go. I’m a wild flower; you’re a rose. I’m ripped up jeans; you’re a little black dress. I’m simple and thoughtful; you’re complex and demanding. I wish people wouldn’t make a fuss over me; you’re the attention-demanding child. We might be worlds a part, but tell me, didn’t you ever wonder about me? You must have noticed me standing alone in the vast sea of hearts and roses year after year. Or did I wear that solid of a guise to mask my curiosity of you? Now that you know, maybe one year soon you and I will meet for the first (and last) time.

Until then… Set me free. Leave me be. I don’t wanna fall another moment into your gravity. Here I am and I stand so tall, just the way I’m supposed to be. (Gravity – Sara Bareilles)