Featured Image: A dried flower from Valentine’s Day 2013, and the necklace that my valentine from 2011 gave me.
I’ve been bitter about Valentine’s Day ever since they stopped doing Valentine cards and candy at school. (And if you’re wondering, I’m also bitter about not being able to go trick-or-treating anymore. I just like free candy, okay?) And I continued to get more and more bitter about it, as the holiday seemed to never live up to my great expectations.
My first disappointing Valentine’s Day was in 2009, at age twelve. The following is an excerpt from my diary that day (bear in mind, I just went through puberty so I was very dramatic and depressed):
“I fucking HATE myself. Why am I so shy!?! He obviously likes me, there’s nothing to fear […] I could’ve done it so easily all I had to do is talk. It shouldn’t be that hard! Why can’t I just face it? I’m too afraid to be depressed. […] Why does Valentines Day have to be today! Can’t it wait? I missed my deadline. And now, I don’t even know how long I will be single. 12 years is quite enough. It’s time to get a fucking boyfriend!”
(P.S. He said no. Also, dear god, if twelve years were “quite enough” then I am pretty much a lost cause.)
For Valentine’s Day in 2010, an equally dramatic and depressed entry: “I hate the fact that I think about [redacted] at least once a day. ‘Cause I bet he doesn’t even think of me once a month.” Yes, correct little Andria, you’re catching on.
For Valentine’s Day in 2011, a friend of mine found a heart necklace on the floor at school and gave it to me. He asked me to be his valentine. Every time we’ve chatted since then, he’s asked me if I still have it, but he died last December. I still have the necklace.
For Valentine’s Day in 2012, I was dating someone. I wrote in my diary: “[redacted] & I get into a lot of fights but we love each other tremendously.” I was fifteen, and we had only been dating for two months, and the relationship lasted nearly four years. Think about that one for a moment before we move on.
For Valentine’s Day in 2016, I was dating someone who had just left on deployment. I spent the day with his sister. I slept on a couch between her two cats.
For Valentine’s Day in 2017, I had my first (well, only) girlfriend. She bought me gel pens and paid our dinner bill while I was in the bathroom. I didn’t deserve her.
For Valentine’s Day in 2018, I was talking to my 2016 ex, like a goddamn idiot.
For Valentine’s Day in 2019, I got stood up.
For Valentine’s Day in 2020, I went to a bar with my entire friend group, about ten heads. A guy with a fifth of whiskey in his pocket tried to flirt with me. Afterwards, we all went back to my friend’s house and made snacks, and had a fantastic time. Nothing like drinks + food + communal commiseration to make me forget that I hate Valentine’s Day.
Current day. I made the mistake of texting my 2016 ex last week, like a goddamn idiot. I also heard some crazy news about my 2012 ex. And last night I cried about my bisexuality after watching an episode of Disenchantment(?)
Now, twelve-year-old me (and, I guess, current me) did not think of this whole “love” thing all on her own. It was fed to me. I blame Twilight the most, but it wasn’t just Stephanie Meyer’s fault. It was every young-adult book (*cough* John Green *cough*), every rom-com, and every Disney channel show that targeted girls my age (Gabriella was RIGHT to choose to go to Stanford over Troy, I’m sorry I ever doubted you, girl.)
And the idea that one will never be complete without a significant other is mainly targeted at girls, not boys. How many shows or movies have an old lady who never married and has 16 cats, and every character shivers at the thought of becoming her? Versus, how many sitcoms have you seen where the husband constantly gripes about having a wife– the “ol’ ball and chain” trope? In young-adult books, the ones targeted at girls always had a love interest, and some of them had two!
Then every February we’re bombarded with Valentine’s Day high on capitalism. The amount you love or are loved is dictated by how much you spend or is spent on you. You see everyone post what their S.O. got them and either you compare what you got, suddenly questioning how much your partner loves you, or you compare it to the 4.99 you spent on Lava Cake Hershey Kisses for yourself (they’re bomb, by the way.)
If only I could talk to twelve-year-old me. Tell her not to worry about boys, not to waste her precious time on them. Tell her I hooked up with her crush almost a decade later. Tell her she does get boobs eventually (she was very concerned). I wish I could tell her that Valentine’s Day is just propaganda to sell chocolates, flowers, and the idea that being single is the worst thing a woman could be.
If you really want to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, do what St. Valentine himself did. Do something illegal, go to jail, then hookup with the warden’s daughter.
Also, I really have been bitter a long time…