Today is February 14, so y’all already know what that means — we have officially reached the end of Netflix and Chill Season. For the past few months, hella women have been clinging on to hopes that their movie-and-cuddy buddies might one day evolve into something more. Then February comes along and the guys instantly go into superhuman ghost mode while the girls are left obsessing over those three infamous W’s: “What went wrong???” It’s not you, baby girl — it’s Valentine’s Day.
The day we find out which of our cyber friends are actually happy with life (aka in a relationship) and which ones are bitter, lonely and depressed (aka single). At least that’s how most of us tend to think of it whenever V Day rolls around — Relationship = Happy and Single = Salty. This is actually my first Valentine’s Day in two years that I’ve been single. And while I’ll admit it’s kinda weird, it’s weird in a good way. Because I’m realizing that the past couple years that I was in a relationship, Valentine’s Day was more so about validation than it actually was about love.
In 2014, it was about the gorgeous bouquet of two dozen red roses I received, the exchange of personalized love letters, the ginormous teddy bear, the chocolate strawberries, the romantic candlelit dinner, the surprise tickets to go see the Dance Theater of Harlem, and the super-cute pics of “us” to post on each one of my social media sites. It was about showing the world that I had finally found the kind of love that was worth showing off. In 2015, it was all about making the relationship work by any means necessary — so that at the end of the day, I could still say that I had someone to claim. At that point in our relationship, my ex and I were constantly up and down. Right before Valentine’s Day, we had gotten into a huge argument and broken up, only to get right back together on Valentine’s Day. Later that evening, we took a cute selfie and posted it on Instagram as if nothing had ever happened. At the time, I didn’t realize that I was allowing my relationship, along with the superficiality of one day, to validate me. But my mentality this year is a bit different.
Last night, I went to a couples’ event that my parents, uncle and aunt were hosting together. Key word: couples. Mind you, I’m single. Like more single than George Washington on a $1 bill. But this was my family’s event, so no doubt I had to show support. I’m not gon’ lie to y’all though — initially, I was super self-conscious about going alone. Because seriously, how would I look showing up dateless to a couples’ event? So I asked a male friend to be my date for the evening. But when he told me he wasn’t gonna be able to make it, the little voice inside my head got me together real quick: “You’re doing the same thing you’ve been doing for the past two years — seeking validation. Go alone.”
So that’s exactly what I did. I got my hair, nails and makeup done, put on my fabulous dress and heels that I bought a couple weeks ago, and walked straight into that couples’ event like I had a man on my arm. ‘Member the time I told y’all about how I went to that social event alone? Well this was like that, except ten times more uncomfortable. But y’all know what? I wound up having the time of my life. I danced, I laughed, and I smiled and conversed with the other couples in attendance. That’s when I realized that I wasn’t pretending to be confident. I actually was confident. I was genuinely enjoying myself and was perfectly content with the space I was in. It’s easy for a lot of us single folk to get on Facebook and post statuses about how confident we are in our singleness. But how many of us can actually do that alone in a room full of couples on Valentine’s Day?
Last night was the ULTIMATE test of my self-confidence. I shamelessly exposed my singleness in a way that I had always been afraid to do in the past. I wasn’t expecting any roses or teddy bears. I didn’t hide behind the image of having someone to claim when I didn’t. I was just unapologetically me, enjoying my life and having a good time. So now, I’m confident to say that this Valentine’s Day is all about me. And I don’t mean that in some bitter, pseudo-confident, “I don’t need a man” type of way. I mean that in a forreal, Kendrick Lamar “I love myself” type of way. Because it’s about genuinely loving and focusing on myself for a change. It’s about being comfortable and confident in my own skin, whether I’m with someone or not. It’s about treating myself with the same love, care and respect that I expect to receive from the next — and LAST — man I get into a relationship with.
And for the first time in my life, it’s about choosing love — self-love — over the validation of having someone else to love me.