Move Over Valentine's Day, TODAY WE CELEBRATE INDEPENDENCE DAY
VALENTINE'S Day. The holiday that throws single people into a tailspin and everyone else into a chocolate coma.
I used to dread Valentine's Day because I've spent a vast majority of my life single.
I didn't have a boyfriend in high school.
From middle school on, I watched in confusion and panic as the girls, teens and then women around me went through relationships like they went through boxes of tampons.
I never got asked out and I sure as hell wasn't brave enough to ask anyone out.
Granted, my high school years were chaotic. I spent the majority of my time trying to hide what was going on outside of school and once I got into college, my brother died tragically the summer before my sophomore year. The following three years, every fiber of my being went towards surviving my loss.
Or maybe it's because I had an impossible list of what I wanted in a man--
But once I moved to New York and started actively dating, I felt really insecure about my love life (or lack thereof). I was terrified that the guys I was seeing would find out that I'd never been in a relationship before and split. Afterall, what 24-year-old had never had a boyfriend before?
What did that say about me?
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But dating is pretty straightforward. Turns out the well-meaning, encouraging dumb dumbs who spent a decade telling me that I'd meet someone when I least expected it were wrong. I'd meet someone when I put myself out there and dated.
Eventually, I found myself in my first real relationship.
And then a second.
And after working through that heartache, I went for a third!
But after that heartbreak, I took a break.
I've been happily single and mingling for a while now and seeing as how Valentine's day is here, I want to talk about the holiday that I'm celebrating:
I believe that love and selflessly giving our love away is one of the bravest things we can do. Because in order to truly give your love, you have to open yourself up, scars, flaws, glory and all, to someone else knowing full well that your love might not be requited or that one day, you'll be forced to survive the heartache it brings you.
For years, I used to revel in the sadness Valentine's day brought me. I'd feel depressed, alone, and honestly, a little worried that there was something wrong with me. (An ex once told me that breaking up with me was like breaking up with a TED Talk. What the hell did that even mean? Everyone loves TED Talks!? Why would he break up with a TED talk?)
I knew I wasn't just being dramatic, I'd been single for a long time. The cards were stacked against me.
So every year like clockwork, come February 14th, I'd drown my embarrassment and self-loathing in some red wine, watch the Sex and the City movie, and find ways to let everyone else's joy amplify my pain.
Maybe it's age, maybe it's the number of tumultuous relationships I've seen my friends have to go through, or maybe it's the fact that I've finally started putting myself first, but this year, I don't feel a twinge of sadness, embarrassment, or regret.
And that's why I'm celebrating Independence Day.
To all of you who have partners that you are brave enough to love, I celebrate you. I hope you take the time today to tell them how much you love them. Don't take them for granted. Celebrate each other. Valentine's Day may be a commercial holiday but that doesn't mean you can't celebrate the hell out of your person. From a small gesture to something bigger, you do you. Just don't take your person for granted.
And more importantly, to all of the ladies who refuse to settle for just good enough, just happy enough, and bravely choose to live your best lives; I salute your ambition and badassery.
Because it isn't always easy being single.
It's unimaginable to end, walk away from, or move forward from a relationship that is affected by a change of events.
Changes of heart.
The list goes on and on. Anything can happen.
But there are so many different types of love to celebrate. From self-love to romantic love, it doesn't matter who you're giving your love to, just take a minute to tell the people in your life who are worthy of your love how much you love and cherish them.
And to all the ambitious, independent women who have to deal with dating advice like this on the regular,
"You're too intimidating."
"You have to let him feel like he's in control."
"You need to make him feel like you need him."
"You care too much."
"You need to play the game."
F*ck that noise.
Keep your hearts open but keep your standards high. If you have to dumb yourself down or downplay your ambition, success, and accomplishments to win the love of someone else, that person doesn't deserve you.
Love huge. Love hard. Love often.
But don't let what feels like a lack of one type of love define who you are. You are more than a relationship.
Happy Independence Day.