Dear Single Girls on Valentine’s

Even the bravest, most independent and accomplished single female I know still gets affected by the Hallmark spectacle that is Valentine’s Day.

In the five years of my stubborn single-hood, I played with multiple approaches to survive this dreadful day. These include but are not limited to the following: mocking it, denying it, defying it by celebrating grandly with friends, pretending all the gushing pageantry of flowers and chocolates neither exists nor matters, and guiltily, even saying yes to dates just to fill up my calendar.

I have arrogantly debated against this day’s existence and used shrugging sarcasm to show I am above it.

The truth is: it was tempting to just curl up under my blanket and skip the day. Out of sight, out of mind.

But single girls have work to do and a life to live—both are worth getting up and showing up for.

What I can tell you honestly is this: being single on Valentine’s Day means having more time to love yourself.

Love yourself hard. Do yourself a favor and give your self-esteem a boost on the very day that some single people resort to feeling sorry for themselves.

On the yoga mat, make self-love your intention. Go for a run or a walk then go the extra mile just to feel more bad-ass. Lift weights to lift your spirits up. Join a fitness class and get lost in it. Find your inner rhythm and dance to it. Give yourself the endorphins you need to be happier than you already are.

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To the girls healing a broken heart, smile at yourself and most importantly, be kind to yourself. Make peace with your losses—every single one of them. This is perhaps the day when many things come flashing back: either pangs of sadness, shades of regret, or the sharp flashback of memories coming from nowhere. When you are healing, the pain is not completely gone, and it’s okay. Don’t punish yourself for still feeling it.

We are all works in progress. A quote I read yesterday applies: “Turn your wounds into wisdom.” Be unafraid to welcome any pain, big or small, and reconcile with it. Pain will polish us so we can sparkle. Be bold enough to embrace pain to be able to move on from it.

But move on. Don’t linger. It is hard to believe this but life will get more beautiful as you keep going, I promise.

To the girls who wait and hope for love, do it with joy. The persistent kind. It is easy to despair in the face of Valentine’s consumerist pomp. Being alone in a sea of puppy-eyed couples is a test of inner strength again and again, hour by the hour. Do not let anyone’s invasive questions make you think there’s something wrong with you for being single. Don’t push the day away and just wish it over.

Use it to warmly spread love because there’s so much inside of you to give. Write your dad a letter. Give your mom a hug. Tell your siblings you love them. Think of your grandparents in heaven and honor them. Cook for a lonely friend. Smile at the security guards and the janitors and anyone who is underappreciated.

Organize a love project which is all about giving. Donate quietly. Organize a fundraiser with your best friends. Give something special to your helper.  Clean out your closet and make someone happy from your well-loved dress or heels. Plan a party to reconnect friends. Volunteer to babysit. Anything you can do that allows you to give love is guaranteed to make you joyful. No-fail. Leave your own worries and go beyond your own world.

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I vividly remember the hazards that come with navigating the complex world of dating in our modern times: frustration, anguish, and a whole lot of guesswork. You push, you pull, and the cycle is exasperating. From WhatsApp to social media, the tools to connect are plenty. However, openness and sincerity are in short supply. It’s harder to distinguish between a man who truly likes and respects you, and one who chases women for sport.

You are not alone. I wish I had a cheat sheet or a map to help you navigate the stress and storm of this stage. But I am no expert. I can only say that it is important to be self-aware and self-loving, to know hope from delusion, to be real with yourself, and to have faith that when you find the one you deserve, you’re happy and wise enough to accept him.  Other people’s opinions and their female biology lessons be damned, you do not need to pressure yourself to love.

For the girls who decided to be single, celebrate your choice. You don’t need to explain or make others understand. From one willful girl to another, I tell you that you are free to ignore people who pester you about when you’ll marry or have a child. When you feel the need to lie or joke about it, stop. The hard truth is that their opinion bears little to no weight to your happiness and growth. Your journey is unique and yours to own.

Remember that being single does not stop you from loving and being loved. It means that you value and cherish love. It means that you won’t settle for anything less.  Cultivate that love because when you let it grow–free from the weeds of self-doubt and insecurity–it grows taller, higher, and bigger than you.

Allow it to.

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