Thanks, Don't Need the Pity, Doing Fine...V-Day Struggles
by Ali Kjergaard
Everyone has lived this scenario. I remember this exact situation in high school. My mom was picking me up from school (oh those pre driver’s license days) and asking me how my day was as I threw my stuff in the trunk. I take a second to think through my uneventful day, and respond with a “fine” as I climb in the front seat.
“Did your test not go well?” my mom asks concerned.
“No, it was fine.”
“Did something happen at practice?”
“No,” I respond. I can feel my annoyance rising.
“Is everything okay with your friends? What’s wrong?” she pushes more.
“Absolutely nothing was wrong until you started convincing me otherwise. Now everything is wrong.” Haha!
Welcome to Valentine’s Day as told by a single.
I’ve lived through many February 14th’s with nary a romance in sight and every year it’s the same. I usually have picked out an outfit with a subtle nod to the classic red or pink and wake up pretty happy. I have an excuse to write notes to dear friends, indulge in a sweet treat, maybe watch Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth. “The holiday is in memory of a martyred saint, not to remind me of the fact I’m single,” I tell myself, laughing.
But on social media, the reminders of your current relationship status (or lack thereof) are everywhere. No one writes an Instagram tribute to Saint Valentine, but all of my married/engaged/in-a-relationship friends make up for it. We scroll through post after post of our adorable couple friends (and it feels like it’s our duty to like/heart all of them). Sure, there are a lot of posts to get through, but it’s one day a year and even I’m not such a Scrooge that I don’t utter the occasional “awww” looking through their pictures.
A new sort of Valentine’s Day has emerged in our culture though (no, not talking about the extremely important Galentine’s Day coined by Leslie Knope lol love). Our culture is now insisting upon a discontentedness with being single on good ol’ February 14th. It’s everywhere. #SingleAwarnessDay. Wear black instead of red or pink. “Let’s drink wine and eat chocolate and make fun of ex-boyfriends.” Websites and social media flood singles with how to “treat yourself” for the day, as if this was some sort of trauma to endure. We are inundated with self-help tips and self-deprecating videos about being single. The conversation I had with my mom in high school is eerily similar to my relationship with the internet/social media on Valentine’s Day.
I’m fine with the holiday, I’m thankful for all the friendships and relationships I have in my life and never wake up dreading the day. But as the day wears on I feel more and more annoyed. It’s like the whole world is constantly reaching out making sure I’m okay. The more it asks if I’m okay, the more I’m told to binge eat chocolate and indulge in my “independent woman who don’t need no man” vibe, the more frustrated I grow. “Did I ever say I wasn’t fine?” “Have I complained about my single status this much that the internet feels the urge to comfort me? Now everything actually does feel wrong.”
For those who find themselves in a happy relationship on February 14th; you have a hearty congrats from me! You don’t owe an apology to single people for your relationship status. We’d actually feel a whole lot weirder if you did try to apologize. Just don’t go trying to reminisce too much about your “single days” once upon a time, also don’t volunteer to set me up with your cute friend (sidenote: how cute?)
The culture of social media excels at stirring up discontent. But maybe I’m giving social media too much credit. It’s easy to blame the internet for our discontent, or to blame my mom for asking too many questions, but I find it’s the way I’m interacting with the internet or with my mom that really needs to change. I think we all need to work on filling our lives with real people with real advice, people we actually love? It’s a novel idea on Valentine’s, I know.
Instead of letting my mom continue to ask me questions, driving me to complete annoyance and a lost temper, what if I started with telling her the good things that did happen during the day. “Today was fine. Thanks for packing my lunch this morning.” “I’m doing good, not a lot of homework actually. How are you?” Instead of letting the internet badger me with #singleawarenessday, why don’t I reach out to a friend who I love? It’s on me to fight the growing resentment so whether that’s shutting off your phone, having people over for dinner, heck write a post dedicated to Saint Valentine, but don’t let our problem creating culture deprive you of a holiday about, well, love.
Ali is a district dweller who was hoping for a career in camp counseling or petting all the dogs but took the unconventional turn towards politics. She still keeps her camp counseling skills sharp for weekend hikes with friends and makes frequent stops on her runs to pet all the dogs. She’s never passed up a chance to snatch a book from a Little Free Library and wishes she could claim Trader Joe’s as her second residency.