Love.(noun) 1. strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties 2. unselfish, loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another (transitive verb) 3. to hold dear, cherish 4. to like or desire actively, take pleasure in 5. to thrive in -Merriam-Webster
Nowadays, we predominantly live our lives through social media. Just scrolling through Twitter or Instagram most days can be a challenge, but today, this can seem like more of a task than ever. Valentine’s Day, from a social media perspective, is often one of two things: a proud gloat about what you do have, or a self-deprecating and often resenting joke about what you don’t.
In recent years, we have seen the rise of ‘Galentine’s Day’, a trend of (predominantly) women proudly spending time with their female friends to avoid lamenting a lack of a partner. This is great, for those who truly worry about Valentine’s Day but have a great group of similar-minded friends to help you through. However, besides being outwardly labeled towards women as if they are meant to feel the hardship of being single more than men do, the premise of just spending time with someone you love platonically can seem like a double whammy, a bonus punch to the gut, for those who don’t have anyone at all: those tonnes of people who are just lonely in general. Being 5,500 miles or so away from the people I love, I’ve probably never felt lonelier, if I’m being completely honest with you.
Yet, this Valentine’s Day – once I’d got over the obligatory scroll through social media timelines bombarded with sickeningly sweet photos and confessions of adoration – I realised that I actually felt surprisingly good about myself. Perhaps I am delirious from* lack of sleep (*as the typo I spotted here ten minutes after publication would attest to), or perhaps it is because, over the past few months, I have learned so much more about myself. I have begun to realise what I truly love, and what I need to appreciate more. And for me, finding romance (or mourning my perpetual lack of it) is nowhere to be seen. When my dad rang earlier, asking if I had received any cards, to which I joked that I don’t think I have ever received a Valentine’s card, he kind of stopped, hesitant and almost a little pitying. I suddenly felt the need to get defensive: not being in a relationship, and indeed not wanting one, is not anything to pity.
While there are many things about my life that I am not quite content about, there are so many feelings, activities and emotions to truly love. So, as this day comes to an end, I wanted to take a moment to think about 14 things that I love, not about anyone else, but about myself: the things that truly make me proud, happy, and glad to be alive.
1. Long phone calls to my parents or my best friends when I am feeling a little down. 2. The sense of pride when I finish writing a new poem or script that I had been bottling in. 3. That moment when I am sat around a table in a pub (probably Spoons, to be honest) with all of my school friends, and even though we haven't seen each other in four months, it is like we never left. 4. That feeling that I am are soaring when I succeed in something I did not thing I would. 5. Screaming karaoke with my housemate, Gaby, knowing that, even if the neighbours are judging, she is not. 6. On the topic of my housemate, my favourite thing to do is to lie on her bed until 3am watching Secret Life of the Zoo, being just as compelled by episodes we have already seen, as if they are completely new. 7. The sizzling of halloumi cheese as I'm frying it (it is the best food in the world, no one can convince me otherwise). 8. I love that I am independent enough to get by on my own, and understand that my worth doesn't lie in my relationships, romantic or otherwise. 9. Singing in the car (even if it drives my dad mad!). 10. I am beginning to embrace my body for all its scars and curves, and realise that I do deserve to dress up and feel pretty (but on those many, many days I cannot be arsed to, I am worth just as much as a woman). 11. I am proud that I can walk better, taller and free-er than I could before my last hip surgery, and that even if one day the pain will come back, I still have this time now to embrace. 12. I have finally learned how to take (some!) risks, and am trying things that even five years ago would have made me think I was crazy (or maybe I have learned to embrace crazy?). 13. I have survived my struggles, and even on rough days, I know I am stronger now than I was before. 14. Pineapple on pizza - I will fight anyone who says otherwise!
I really hope that, whatever your feelings on love, and whoever you happen to have in your life, you’re able to take a moment or two to think about what makes you happy. And remember it, not just today, but every day. I can guarantee you deserve it.