When I was in elementary school, Valentine’s Day was my favorite holiday. I would stay up the night before decorating my “mail box,” constructed out of paper, markers, and an overly excessive amount of glitter. Then, the next day everyone in the class made and received cards and treats: at the end of the day, everyone brought home their “mailbox,” filled with goodies.
Although, with age, Valentine’s Day transforms from a fun celebration of friendship to an anxiety-inducing scramble for plans to avoid facing the undeniable truth— you’re depressingly single.
In fact, my first attempt at Valentine’s Day festivities ended with my finger nearly dismembered. Let me elaborate: A ring my mother gave me as a Valentine’s present got stuck on my finger while I was third-wheeling on a friend’s date. Around 30 Cheesecake Factory customers and employees formed a massive crowd around me, in an attempt to help. My hand looked like a giant blue corn dog. Not only did I have to use gardening shears to break the ring off, but the “date” ended with a late night Wendy’s run.
But even despite my traumatizing Valentine’s Day experience, the holiday is a logistical disaster by any standard— overpriced roses, tooth-aching candy, crowded restaurants filled to the brim with canoodling couples and worst of all, public marriage engagements.
When you’ve had enough of the love fest, it is impossible to even retreat to your phone as social media is flooding with romantic couple photos. Scrolling down what seems like an infinite amount of posts of grand gestures between couples you didn’t even know were a “thing.” Social media is a desperate showmanship of the Olympics of Affection, especially on Valentine’s Day. The holiday is a blunt reminder that your love life is going less like Ally’s in “The Notebook” and more Bridget Jones before Mr. Darcy.
On the brighter side, you can channel your energies as an opportunity to make Valentine’s Day amazing for someone else. Americans spent, on average, about $147 toward Valentine’s Day in 2016, according to the National Retail Federation. You can calculate what you would spend on your hypothetical significant other and use it for some good. There’s nothing wrong with making your mom your “valentine” and spoiling her a bit. There are also charitable donations to institutions like Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, or Campus Kitchen that can leave a lasting effect much longer than pharmacy store chocolates.