As a teenager in high school, I was deeply insecure. Of course, if anyone’s read past blog posts, this isn’t new information. But seventeen year old Naja had been going through it, all year long. I was the walking dead, and I hid that fact well from my friends.
Enter February 14th, 2011.
From the bus ride to school, to the halls between classes, nothing was safe from the flurry of oversized bears and single red roses. Many a teenage girl carried their plunder around, because everyone secretly knew that meant you were one of the chosen few with an admirer. Of course, it never occurred to me that many people probably bought their own things and flaunted it around school to put on a front.
But I digress.
I went through the day with the anti-romantic cynicism of a woman twice my age. Though, at this point, all I knew of heartbreak was through Hayley Williams’ guttural belt of anguish. I can admit now that I was jealous. I wanted to be loved by a boy so badly, it felt like a vice grip around my thoughts. By the time 5th period rolled around, I felt so wound up that the slightest nudge would cause me to snap.
And snap, I did.
In the middle of choir class, I stepped out into the hallway, sat on the floor, and cried like someone had just died. I’m sure it was more than just the day itself. Every other Valentine’s Day went by with very little effect on me.
But this particular day was a breaking point for me, simply because it seemed to punctuate a year-long internal struggle. I deeply believed that I was unworthy of love and kindness, and that day seemed to confirm it. In hindsight, I took many things for granted. My friendships and my family were always there, but I assumed they only liked me out of obligation. If I could manage to get a boy to love me in ways that no one else did, then I’d feel worthy. Then everything I felt about myself would be untrue, and I’d know it was all in my head.
It’s just a day, my dudes.
I’m often glad that social media wasn’t as big when I was a teenager. Scrolling through Instagram felt like the grown-up version of my high school hallway experience. Except, now, oversized bears and single red roses are exchanged for fancy dinners and engagement rings. The standard reactions to Valentine’s Day range from over excessive emphasis on the joys of being in a relationship, to disdain for love and everything about it. My Valentine’s Day 2019 was a day just like any other. That’s it. There’s no story there. I went to work, I came home.
I’m not going to write some long winded history lesson about what Valentine’s Day really is, or how it’s been commodified to push the sale of candy and jewelry.
But, come on.
It’s like…St. Patrick’s Day (in America) for people in relationships. A lot of us acknowledge that it’s a thing, many of us might even wear the designated color, but only those of us who really care about it will go out and spend money/time celebrating it. If you don’t care about it, cool! Just go about your day. If you do care about it, cool! Have fun celebrating.
By February 15th, everyone’s thinking about the chocolate discounts, anyway.