Valentine's Day is just around the corner! I shared last year that I genuinely love this holiday so much (no matter your relationship status). While I'm a huge advocate for everyone finding a way to celebrate love as often as possible, today's post is for all my single ladies out there (cue Beyoncé).
I'll be celebrating this weekend (before I hit the road for my 6 week road trip!) with some of my best girlfriends. I did the same last year and it was honestly, probably my favorite Valentine's Day to date. We totally embraced all the clichés you can think of: chocolate, flowers, watching the movie 'Valentine's Day'... the list goes on. Some people even brought us all gifts (Justin Bieber earrings FTW). All that to say, I am always a fan of celebration over cynicism and Valentine's Day is no exception.
If you're also celebrating with your girlfriends, I think it's more fun to shop for them than it is for a guy! And while I'd be lying if I said I'm buying gifts for all my friends (#BloggerOnABudget) it's really fun to set up a Dirty Santa style gift swap, or just surprise a few of your closest pals with something small.
If you're like me and my friends, you pretty much can't go wrong with gifts related to wine. I love these etched glasses, this decanter, this adorable phone case and of course, this rosé candy box. I also am obsessed with these chocolate truffles I found in London (and you can get them in the states!) You can also play up the holiday color theme with some red, pink and blush nail polish. Honestly, pretty much anything pink goes! I love this pink polaroid camera, this coconut milk mango reed diffuser, this faux fur pillow and these tassel drop earrings.
But gifts aside, if you're single this Valentine's I realize you may not be happy about it. Some people wouldn't trade it, but others really wish they weren't. While I'm currently having a lot of fun being single, that wasn't always the case. So last year I wrote this article for The Everygirl on embracing this season no matter how you feel about it (and I threw in a few more notes now that I have another year under my belt!):
I was proud of myself when I hit the milestone of being single for a full year. That may not sound like a big deal, but coming from someone who was a serial monogamist (I'd been in relationships for the 11 years prior), it was a pivotal realization.
But what I’m especially proud of isn’t merely the fact that I’ve been single—it’s how I’ve been single. In today’s world of Tinder, Bumble, and everything else, there are endless ways to never be alone. Sure, you may not be in a committed relationship, but just swipe right a few times and soon enough someone is readily available to text with as often as you so please. At least, until you’re sick of them and ready to move on to the next option.
Don’t get me wrong. I think dating apps have the ability to connect people (and I've loved using them to meet people while traveling). However, they can also make it far too easy to distract yourself in the interim from grieving or growing before you move into your next relationship if you're not careful. But for my first 365 days as a single, I put dating on a shelf entirely and made a conscious effort to show up 100% to the season I was in.
For starters, it wasn't always easy or fun. There are things about being someone’s companion that I absolutely loved and sometimes being single feels straight up lonely. But as equally as I’ll confess to that, I must also emphasize that it was pleasantly surprising and a little underrated.
So whether you’re just entering this season or you’ve been sitting in it for a while, here are some things to remember and celebrate about embracing exactly where you are.
Now is the time to focus on YOU.
How many times have we heard that cliché? But man, is it accurate. When someone first uttered that phrase to me I had to close my eyes to hide that they were rolling with annoyance. But there is so much freedom in this truth. Ever hear someone say they wish they’d moved to a new city? Or learned a new language? Or backpacked through Europe? People are dripping with regret for their lost dreams and quite often the culprit is a laundry list of responsibilities and obligations that stood in their way.
But as a single? The world is your oyster. Move if you want a change. Use your evenings to take a language class. Save some money, quit your job, and travel Europe for a bit if that's what you really want (having done almost all of the above this past year, I can personally vouch they were the most incredible experiences of my life so far). There are literally no valid excuses to not be fully chasing after the life you want to build.
This is the time when you’re allowed, hell, encouraged even to be selfish. Embrace it.
It’s really OK not to be dating.
Friends, family, and even colleagues constantly asked me (and still do) if I’m dating anyone. The question can feel uncomfortable if the answer is “no." But try to remember that their intentions are almost always pure. Without pointing fingers or making generalizations, a lot of people think the solution to losing a love is to find another. And while most of us would agree we’d like to again at some point, I’d argue that there is a lot more out there for you to discover before simply finding another relationship. So fight the urge to over explain or agree to a date simply because people are asking. At the end of the day, they just want you to be happy. But only you know what is required to make that happen. Date when you feel ready and excited about it—and not a moment sooner. You’ll be doing both yourself and your future partner a favor.
Having been on dates now, I'm so glad I took this approach. When you know how to be happy on your own you can truly enjoy the other person for who they are rather than trying to build on some toxic foundation of co-dependency. I have no problem (gracefully) letting go if I'm not feeling it, because I know I don't depend on them for my happiness or sense of self-worth.
Discovering who you are is exhilarating.
Relationships are about compromise, and that sacrificial gesture is a beautiful thing. But you know what else is pretty awesome? Being able to make all of your own decisions and discovering more about what makes you, you. After years of agreeing on restaurants, movies, and things to do, there was something so very liberating about making simple decisions by myself.
I've discovered that I’m a significantly happier person when I’m hiking or adventuring on the weekends instead of always watching Netflix on the couch. Or that I love a good laugh as much as the next girl, but what really lights my soul on fire is someone who is a great conversationalist. Time with yourself is like a childhood Easter egg hunt where you're constantly discovering treasure after treasure that holds a little surprise you were never aware of before. Eat up that delicious goodness.
You are stronger than you think.
So many things are easier with two people involved: household chores, traveling logistics, car maintenance, the list goes on. So when those tasks you used to divide suddenly fall entirely on you, it can feel overwhelming (there's nothing like a flat tire weeks after a breakup to cue the tears and make you feel defeated). But if you can get past your emotions and self-pity, you quickly learn to suck it up and just get it done.
And suddenly, that self-pity turns to self-confidence. Because you just did that hard thing all by yourself (even if sometimes "by yourself" means asking or hiring someone to help). Channel that inner Olivia Pope badass, because you’ve got it handled.
You are already enough.
Whether we say it out loud or not, being in a relationship feels validating. It strokes our ego to have a companion that frequently reminds us that we’re loved, that we’re beautiful, or that we have a place in this world. But the reality is, you already are all of those things. And the more you are willing to sit with yourself and learn who you are (apart from anybody else), you will eventually start to look at yourself in the mirror every morning and know that it's true without needing anyone else to affirm it.
More seasons lie ahead.
In the early days of my singleness, I found myself lamenting to a mentor about how alone I felt. I longed to someday have a family and be a wife, and it all felt suddenly so far away. She took my cheeks in her hands and squeezed them sternly. “You have the rest of your life to do that, my dear. But this is your season for adventure.” She then went on to tell me that while she adores her child and her husband, she appreciates them so much more because of the years she spent being single: living in London, exploring the world, and getting to know herself. “This time that you’re cursing under your breath will very likely be the same one you look back on so fondly someday,” she reminded me. "Don’t miss it."
This has been some of my very favorite advice, and it couldn't be more true. It's now been a year since I originally wrote this article and it has been a wonderful season of adventure. I started my own business. I lived in Europe (something I always said I hoped I'd do someday). I visited 11 different countries and saw more of the world than I ever have before. There is still a ton about my life that hasn't figured itself out yet, but again- more seasons lie ahead. I'm actually so incredibly thankful that my life didn't figure itself all out straight away. If it had, I highly doubt that I would have these experiences-- and they're the very best ones of my life so far. I can confidently say that whatever seasons are up next, I will be able to greet them as a better person because of what this one has taught me.
So while I still look forward to all that lies ahead in my future, I’ve learned to genuinely cherish all that I have in the meantime (and not just the amazing travel and adventure). My cozy apartment is all mine and mine alone. I can still have sleepovers with my girlfriends at a moment’s notice (and when I'm in town, it happens pretty often). I can go to a yoga class just about anytime that I feel like it without needing to check in with anyone else.
Now let's be clear: even with all the freedom I find so much joy in, I’m certainly not against relationships or judging you for your timelines. Hear me when I say that I’m absolutely excited to find love again someday. But I can say with confidence from what I’ve learned: Singleness is a sweet, beautiful place that's intended to be cherished, appreciated, and fully taken advantage of. It’s our time to become a better person for ourselves and the people we’ll end up with someday. So enjoy it. Drink up all it has to offer, and don’t leave a single drop behind.
I hope you feel loved and encouraged this Valentine's Day, no matter what season you're in!