As much as Valentines’ Day is a day dedicated to the expression of love, a company of two, and adoration of each other, it does not take away from the fact that it has and keeps inducing feelings of pressure, anxiety, sadness, and loneliness in many individuals.
Now one might think that it is an issue of the heartbroken, depressed, and single people. Guess what, that’s not the case! Most single people might feel lonely, but the likes of newlyweds are under high pressure as well. Experts do say that most people feel lonely and unreasonably sad and depressed around this time of the year. I too surveyed 75 of my friends, family, and relatives asking if they felt sad around this time of the year. A shocking 64% of them said yes. And that was just for the sadness part. Can you imagine the number of people who feel pressured by this?
Valentine’s day was supposed to be the time around which people confessed their love and feelings to the ones they loved but to think that soon we might have a generation that will dread Valentine’s day because of the pressure of grand gestures is sad and dystopian. The Social media /capitalist media that we consume, tells us this enormous lie that EVERYONE is happy, celebrating and showing their love through enormous gestures of couple parties, vacation dates, “Paris”, candlelight dinners in 500$ restaurants.
Seeing everyone posting together about how happy they are with their love life and having someone to support and love them can be overwhelming. Now should the people celebrating love and genuinely having a good time stop sharing? That is not what we are aiming for. Instead, share what you actually do rather than doing something that would be Instagram worthy.
Among so many of the responses, you could still see people not wanting to open up, people giving ideal answers, and people who had trouble admitting that they feel as such. Another interesting observation was that from the remaining 36% of people saying no they did not feel sad, 67% of them were females. Does this mean males tend to be sadder and feel lonelier? The first step here is acceptance. Accepting that you feel a certain way is the first step, the hard step, but a very important one. Accepting and feeling it through and through without trying to suppress and putting on a mask of being strong. Cry it out or rant it out, or simply sit with it and feel it. Avoiding the feeling will not do you any good. There are plenty of things that people do to cope; like gifting themselves flowers and cakes, celebrating on their own in a really fun way, with friends who are single or with family. These are some great ways to practice self-love but know that these will not make you not sad. And there is nothing wrong with it. These are essentially ways of celebrating the day and not feeling grumpy about it. Celebrations and enjoyment is for everyone.
Now here’s the catch; you could have enjoyed the whole day with friends and family, attended fun events and had fun, and still cried before going to sleep. These sudden spasmodic emotions do not indicate that you are lonely and sad and made a wrong choice staying single. And this can happen even if you had an amazing date with your partner. In my survey, from the 64% that said yes, 45% were already in a relationship or committed, even married.
Valentine’s Day Pressure
The pressure for those who are in a relationship or committed or married is of wanting to make the other person happy by matching and even exceeding their expectations for the day. Choosing the perfect gift, the venue, and the food can make you feel highly pressured especially if it is a new bond.
Valentine’s Day gifts have become all about grand gestures at amazingly picturesque places that no one else has ever been to. The same could be accomplished by a simple candlelight dinner at a restaurant or place where you had beautiful memories or it could simply be a classic rose bouquet with a cake.
The rare reason why some respondents felt sad was that they knew the lives of people posting beautiful and cheesy messages for each other over social media, wouldn’t care for saying even half the things to their partner on their face. Most of it is show off and social pressure. So the idea of broken love somewhere makes you sad.
Most people I talked to who felt that they were inexplicably sad were also feeling the same about occasions like New Years’ and Birthdays. These prove to be annual reminders by the society of what a perfect and successful life looks like. Others finding love is a big tick on the societal norms of partnering and finding that one person to spend the rest of your life with.
The Society also tells us that this is security. Now when such reminders are blasted across social media and by people very close to us, we unconsciously start comparing ourselves and start feeling that we are behind in life. That we are yet to reach there where these people already are. This being an annual event, serves as a clock telling you that time is passing you by. And in matters like that of romance and partner, the society rewards and holds high the young achievers.
It is all the more difficult for Highly Sensitive People and for them, it is best to unplug and recharge. Taking time off social media and treating yourself with all the love and understanding that you are capable of. This doesn’t make you selfish or bitter. This is self-care and taking measures for your health. At the end of it all, remember that it is just another day. At the end of the day, if you want a partner, a Valentine, you want someone who will understand you. Be that for yourself right now.
In an article I read, Psychologist Appio says that if we have come to grow up in a household where birthdays were dismissed or stressful in some way, we can be prone to re-experiencing feelings of sadness, anxiety, dread, or disappointment around our birthdays as adults. There can be a similar explanation for Valentine’s Day and also other such occasions. Treat yourself with extra love and try to be more understanding of yourself.
Valentine’s Day will come and go every year. Know that it is not the day that’s the problem. It’s the feelings that come up around this day that are important. You should not dismiss or push away your feelings as they can provide you with important insights on yourself. If you’re sad or angry, then these feelings will show up again and again until you figure out the root cause of it.
For those who are sad because you haven’t found the one yet, smile because you are yet to have this wanted experience. Something to look forward to!