I loved Valentine’s Day, when I was little back before I really liked boys. The school parties, laughing with friends, cards, stuffed animals, chocolate, and um chocolate 😉 But then middle school hit and suddenly it wasn’t quite as fun anymore. Yes, the parties and laughter and cards and stuffed animals and chocolate were all still there, but now there was this added layer. Would I get asked to be anyone’s Valentine? Would anyone dance with me at the dances?
It suddenly became a holiday filled with so much anxiety. Thankfully there was one boy who always asked me to dance. I don’t know if he was doing it just to be nice or if he actually truly liked me, but it did mean and still means so much to me that he always bought me a $1 carnation and asked me to dance. He kept hope alive inside of me each year after, when I wasn’t asked to be anyone’s Valentine. Maybe next year, I’d tell myself.
So through high school I surrounded myself with my friends and family, the people who day in and day out supported and loved me for me. We laughed until our sides ached and tears streamed down our faces. We were each others Valentine’s, all of us. But it still felt like something, or someone rather, was missing.
And then I met my husband and suddenly I was excited for Valentine’s Day to roll around. YES! Me, Kylee, Miss Never Had A Boyfriend, would have her first Valentine ever! This is where I’d be doing my “super pumped” dance, which is truly a sight to behold I can assure you 😉
That first year we actually tried to go out to dinner and do the whole 9 yards. Oh, how silly we were! The wait was insane even at a chain restaurant! Apparently you need reservations anywhere you go on that holiest of dinner date days. Who knew?
So we learned our lesson and started our own tradition at home the following year. One of us would make a fancy dinner and the other a fancy dessert, and it was perfect. It is perfect. Every year. And not because we spend hundreds of dollars. In fact, we don’t even exchange gifts. Cards are enough for us because we’ve realized that Valentine’s Day is just a day like any other. That realization was so freeing for my inner middle schooler. I didn’t suddenly love him more or differently just because February 14th had rolled around again. I love him always regardless of anything else. He’s my favorite person in the whole world.
When I think back on Valentine’s Days past, I am sad and happy at the same time. Sad that I spent so much time worrying, sad about all the unnecessary heartbreak, but happy that I’ve finally realized I always had a Valentine, many in fact. Maybe they weren’t of the romantic variety, but we loved each other all the same– my family and friends. More than anything, though, I’m happy because I’ve come to love myself so much more than I did back then, and that has truly made all the difference on this day.
Of course having a husband, children, family, and friends who love me unconditionally is an amazing gift, one I would never want to trade or give up, but the best gift I ever gave myself was self love. When you love yourself, you come to see that while it is nice to have outside love, it’s no longer something you need desperately.
I’m still a work in progress, I still have days when I’m not particularly fond of myself, I still struggle on some days to see passed my faults and love myself regardless, and on those days it is nice to be loved by others romantic or otherwise, but under it all is now a pretty solid foundation of self love that I stand on every day. That is what I wish for everyone on this Valentine’s Day and every Valentine’s Day for the rest of time. Love yourselves. You won’t be sorry you did, I promise you. And of course, chocolate 😉
With all the love in my heart, Happy Valentine’s Day to you all!