As we enter February, my inner hopeless romantic sees only one thing: the rapidly-approaching Valentine’s Day. This year, however, will look different for many people, including myself. Due to the ongoing pandemic, many people will be forced to enjoy virtual Valentine’s Day celebrations in lieu of traveling, going out to dinner or any other plans involving the better part of the outside world. For me, this is the first Valentine’s Day single after breaking up with my boyfriend this past summer and I fully plan on enjoying this holiday of love despite this fact. 

Originating from the ancient Roman feast of Lupercalia, Valentine’s Day has certainly come a long way. What was once celebrated with the sacrifice of a goat and a dog and whipping has transformed into a holiday known for conversation hearts, red roses and major sales increases for Hallmark.

Valentine’s Day — with or without a significant other — should be about love in every form, shape and magnitude. It is time to normalize getting gifts for your best friends and telling them you love them just the same as you would to a boyfriend or girlfriend. At risk of sounding like nearly every single girl ever, it’s important I clarify how unique I know it is to share Valentine’s Day with that special someone. That said, I would argue that whether you have that special someone should not dictate your chocolate consumption, flower displays or itinerary on Feb. 14. In fact, I could not be more excited. 

My friends and I have decided to hop on the Galentine’s Day trend, not as an anti-Valentine’s Day club of sorts, but instead as a celebration of our friendships and the love we have for each other. Additionally, there is something to be said about giving yourself a little extra love on a day where heart-shaped candies reign supreme. Especially as the turbulence in the world around us remains steadfast, it is important now more than ever to recognize the sweet simplicity in Hallmark holidays. Watch a movie that makes you feel something, buy yourself your favorite candy or treat and encourage yourself to write cards or notes for the people you’re choosing to call your valentines this year. 

In an effort to emphasize being candid and transparent, it’s important I divulge into a more anecdotal justification for my pro-single Valentine’s Day. Like so many people, my past relationship was, in a word, impactful. While I regret none of the time I spent with my ex-boyfriend, our relationship was, in many ways, toxic and left me feeling vulnerable at the thought of ever loving or being loved by someone. 

As a serial planner and Grade A gift-giver, I go through mental readjustment as each holiday without my ex-boyfriend passes, overlooking the ideas I may have had in years past with him in mind. I’ve instead taken those opportunities to plan things with my best friends; it is an inexplicably good feeling to know the only tears I experience nowadays are due to emotional scenes in movies or books and the occasional stressful day. This speaks volumes to why I’m celebrating this Valentine’s Day very differently and why I encourage everyone to do the same — single or not. 

It is undeniable that everyone can benefit from time devoted to themselves. For some, this may mean an hour of “me-time,” while for others it can mean a year without any significant others. This concept is far from a one-size-fits-all phenomenon and instead must be left to the individual discretion of each person. I am, and have always been, a relationship person. After my last (and longest) relationship ended, however, I knew it was important that I spend a significant amount of time learning to love myself before delving into any sort of romantic entanglements. I know I speak for many others who have also recently gotten out of a relationship — toxic or not — and are experiencing their first single Valentine’s Day this year. 

I will always be a hopeless romantic, and I am in no way anti-love or anti-Valentine’s Day. If you are able to do so safely, enjoy your candlelit dinner and hold onto your significant other a little tighter in spite of the negativity surrounding us more than ever before. This Valentine’s Day, I will be celebrating the love of my amazing friends, family and something I’m continuing to work on: myself. 

Jess D’Agostino can be reached at jassdag@umich.edu.

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