If you’re single on Valentine’s Day, then don’t fret because it isn’t the end of the world. Perhaps for some, seeing giddy couples and their hands coiled around each other like ivy, is excruciating; but take it from a guy who has been single (not quite accurate, but I’m not one to elaborate) for the last two good decades he has been aware of his existence. Of course, to have a date on the fourteenth of February would be nice. After all, traffic will definitely snarl as this year’s V date falls on a Friday, and for many, a pay day even. You could just imagine how many fancy restaurants with overflowing Moet, and seedy malls with creaking beds, would be packed. Which only means for the single man and woman, Manila traffic, already insufferable in its present state, would be hellish. So having a date might sound practical if you’re going to pass the time stuck along EDSA, or if you’re looking to have someone carry your bag in queues (especially if you’re commuting). Damn you, young lady, if your date doesn’t have a car!
But if you really don’t have someone special (or even someone paid) to be with on Valentine’s, it really isn’t a problem. We’ve been forced to believe by media, the big fortune-hungry companies, and even by our peers, that to have a date is the be all and end all of Valentine’s Day. Heck, how many movies are dedicated to finding that seemingly elusive February affair? The truth of the matter is, if you’re single in a crowd of mingling and/or soon-to-be fucking couples, no one cares. Maybe your mother, especially if you’re forty. Maybe your friends too. But you shouldn’t. Society puts so much emphasis on finding someone, as if our very existence (arguable) is wired for the purpose of discovering a stranger you’d later on, maybe even against your mother’s intentions, be sharing a bed with (either for a fleeting tryst or a lifetime mistake).
Yet if there’s anyone you have to find, it’s yourself.
There is nothing wrong if you’re sad because you’re on your own come V day. It’s a natural feeling. We are predisposed as human beings, as beasts, to desire company. But that’s the great thing about being humans, being people who are smart enough to be self-aware – you can transcend your desires. You can either indulge in your emotions and wallow in self-pity, or you can simply choose not to give a fuck (and literally you won’t, because you are single). You can mope; you can lock yourself in the shower with a freshly lit cigarette and a glass of cheap, convenience store brandy; you can even share your tragic situation on Facebook (like I am prone to do). Quick reminder though: such schemes won’t un-single you! It might even discourage potential partners looking for self-assured individuals who like the way they are, including their relationship status.
But it’s all fine. It’s okay to be alone. It’s okay to feel lonely too. It’s okay to feel like you’re the odd one out in a sea of happy couples disguising their shared miseries as they toast to their anniversaries, monthsaries, daysaries, and for those who’ve made the life-long commitment, a toast to forget the anxiety over tomorrow’s groceries. It’s okay to be desperate and rely on mobile apps to look for a date. You are an odd one out after all! But there are countless people who won’t be with the warmth and affection of a lover, or friend, or lover-friend (the lines have been blurred, thank you Robin Thicke) too. The world won’t stop spinning just to grieve over your unfortunates. It won’t stop for those who share your private and self-generated disgrace. Whether or not age, religion, or society is acting against you in managing a perfectly healthy relationship you can flaunt on Valentine’s Day, the world just won’t pretend it cares.
To be alone can be a thing of beauty. The video below proves it. Tanya Davis’ How To Be Alone is one of my favourite poems, and it’s always reassuring to have someone so eloquently present to us the beauty of being on our own.
Society is afraid of alone though. Like lonely hearts are wasting away in basements. Like people must have problems if after a while nobody is dating them. But lonely is a freedom that breathes easy and weightless, and lonely is healing if you make it.
However, I’m not going to say you should only embrace the solitude of both your interior and romantic life, and I won’t even attempt to pretentiously empower you by listing down the financial benefits of not being in a relationship. You are the master of your own fate. If something is working against you, you’re the only one who can solve it. If you’re fine being single, then great! It’s not easy especially if like me, you personally feel time is running out. Brevity is a much stronger force than gravity after all. Take Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to re-evaluate your life, akin to New Year’s. Maybe there are things you have to change. Don’t listen to crap which tells you you’re entitled to having someone take your worst qualities. As this man best put it, “being “accepted” should not be our relationship goal. Healthy relationships are loving, but also challenging, edifying, and even occasionally painful.”
And this applies to the relationship we least like – yes the ones we have with ourselves. Most of us think accepting who we are – single, loveless, broken, disordered, quirky, vain etc. – is all that matters. True enough, self-approval is crucial. But the true challenge is how we can be strong enough to be vulnerable, and allow the numerous facets, components, and accessories of life to alter us. Damn it, it’s not your character which is stubborn. It’s your lack of it. Be a better person – that is what Valentine’s Day should really tell us whether or not you’re a thirty-something resigned to an old maid or bachelor’s life; a newly married man adjusting to the rigours of married life; a sexually active young woman exploring the pleasures of the world; lesbians similarly enjoying the good discoveries of womanhood; or, an old couple who have soldiered on in spite the challenges of lifetime. Bettering oneself is not limited to a timeframe!
If you’re single on Valentine’s Day, go play that Sammy Davis Jr. classic and cry as you belt out the lyrics to What Kind of Fool I Am. But don’t wait moping. If you really do want a date, then work on it; don’t be ashamed of such a goal. Just remember that the things we want in life are usually given to us through hard work, patience, and yes, humility. God helps those who help themselves. If you’re an atheist, then replace God with science or technology or whatever fact works. So start now! What are you waiting for? Be a better person. Be a good person. Just be a decent fucking individual who is willing to take the good with the bad. And maybe next Valentine’s Day, you wouldn’t have to be acting out a sad walk through a crowd of happy couples, with your earphones blasting out All By Myself, and a tiny tear hanging from your eyes. Maybe next Valentine’s Day, you’re dead already too.
So why wait for this year’s romantic play date? Go! Now! Be in the moment!