Friday, February 8, 2013

So. Much. Angst.

Less than a week and we reach that holiday full of hearts, flowers, chocolates and cupids shooting rainbows out of their asses. I hate this "holiday" - I mean really really hate. I would prefer to go into a coma on the 13th of February and wake up on the 15th.

It doesn't matter if you are single or coupled, Valentine's Day usually sucks. If you are coupled, there is a perfect movie-script of a day you expect. And it never happens like the script in your head. So it's always a disappointment in some way. The PRESSURE to be romantic and all lovey-dovey could kill the heartiest of libidos. I think this is a bigger problem for younger generations. Once you have some age and experience, you have a better perspective of what to expect from Valentine's Day. The angst is less, but still there.
Now, consider Valentine's Day from a single perspective. . . surrounded by messages that essentially tell us that unless we are in a hetero-normative relationship, we are less valued. Advertising repeats again and again and again that we must have a partner, or we must not be happy. We must have a dozen roses, a romantic dinner, gourmet chocolates, a diamond ring, sexy lingerie - and a partner to share all this with - or we are not a "complete" person.  We are failures. And if you are over the age of 25, female and single - well, you are REALLY a failure. Obviously, you are not "doin' it rite."

So how is a single person supposed to react to the bombardment of love-couple messages? If a single person celebrates the holiday, then they get showered with pity. "Oh, it's so sweet you are celebrating Valentine's Day. You'll find someone soon!" Or surprise. "Oh! I figured you'd be celebrating Single's Awareness Day!" Some singles take the guilt of being a party of one, and turn it into serious pissed-off-ness. They wear black. They growl any time they see a couple. They mock the whole idea of love. Some get sad, buy themselves 2 pound boxes of chocolates and 2 liter boxes of wine and consume them while sitting on the couch watching Love Actually on repeat.

And then there's me. Over the last few years, I've been working hard to change my gut-reaction of inadequacy when it comes to Valentine's Day. I don't want to be pitied. I don't want to be pissed off. I don't want to be sad. More than anything, I want to be a role-model of the concept that being single is OK, and even healthy. But I find this hard to do because Valentine's Day immediately puts me on the defensive. I usually spend a good amount of time scripting responses I will use on the day of love, hearts and flowers, responses that don't sound like an apology for my single-ness. I plan to hand out Valentine's to those in my classes who are single, along with a short "mom" speech on how being single is not a death sentence. This usually makes me feel a little better. I spend a lot of energy trying to project something positive. To be honest - it's exhausting. And more often than not, I end the day with a pity party that I'm single. The inadequacy of my relationship status wins.
This year, I have a whole other angst. I'm dating! Sauce Guy! Joe! It's fairly new. And exciting. And I think I really like him. . . But what does this mean for Valentine's Day??? Isn't Valentine's Day for people in love? I'm in the process of falling in "like" - but does that qualify me as someone worthy of such a day? I don't have the oppression of being truly single, but I also don't have the validity of being a serious couple. I'm in Valentine's Day purgatory. I don't know if I'm supposed to acknowledge the day with Joe, or ignore it. If I give him a card/gift, I worry it will send an "I love you!" message - and I really don't want to send that. If I ignore the holiday, I worry it will send an "I don't care" message. And I do care - I like this guy! It's a stupid Valentine's conundrum.

Maybe we should rename this holiday "Angst Day," because whatever your relationship status, that's what you'll be feeling.Now I'm off to buy wine for my angst and a Valentine card that won't freak Joe out.

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