This week: What If Love Isn't In The Air?Edited by: Kittiara
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It's a week for romance. But, what if you don't have anyone to be romantic with?
This week's Drama Newsletter is all about how to navigate Valentine's Day when it isn't (currently) a cause for celebration.
When I was a teenager, Valentine's Day was all about The Card. It was the romantic highlight of the year (at least for those with an unspoken crush), because tradition made it acceptable to confess one's feelings in a relatively safe manner. In the weeks before the 14th of February people began their search for the perfect card to send to the person of their dreams. Once this had been acquired, time was spent fretting over the perfect message to include. Often, this message would be written in block capitals or in another manner that wouldn't reveal one's handwriting, as the key to this confession was that it would be sent unsigned – its sender unknown. It was its anonymity that made it safe – or safe-ish – and exciting.
Many a teenage girl would spend more than a minute standing in front of the postbox, card in hand. Once she'd gathered the courage to let go, a pleasant time could be spent imagining the recipient finding the card in their mail. Would they be surprised? Would they like the card? The message? Would they wonder who it was from? Would they hope and dream that the person who sent it was, indeed, the one sat there hoping and dreaming that their feelings were reciprocated? Had they, possibly, placed a card in the mail, too?
Valentine's Day must be one of the biggest days in a mail carrier's year, their arrival rarely more anticipated. Whilst I mentioned teenage girls above, as that was what I was at the time this story takes place, they aren't – and weren't – the only ones hoping for a card, or a note, or anything that says, “You are liked. You are admired. Someone out there thinks so highly of you that they sent you this.” The fortunate ones who did receive special mail would spend their day wondering who their Mr. or Miss Anonymous might be. The less fortunate ones either saw their dreams crushed, or they'd tell themselves that perhaps the person they'd hoped would send them a card didn't know their address, or perhaps they'd been too shy to even get a card, or maybe it was lost in the mail, and it might yet arrive... Anything to permit the dream to last.
When we were 14 years old, my best friend and I sent our cards to the most popular guys in our school. Even then, we knew that the boys would receive many cards, but with the romantic optimism of a teenage girl – an optimism that will even allow her to believe that there is a chance, however remote, that the boy band member of her choice will spot her amongst the crowd, and instantly fall in love, and that they'll live happily ever after – we dreamed that somehow they'd sense that our cards were special. That the hearts and souls behind these messages were true. That it would be worth finding their senders, and that when they found out it was us... yep, happily ever after. This was despite a complete lack of encouragement on their end. They were aware of our existence, but that was about the limit of our interactions. Still, hope springs eternal.
The impatience and sense of anticipation with which I awaited the arrival of the mail that Valentine's Day cannot be overestimated. Imagine my surprise, then – and yes, my shock – when there was a card for me. A card from a Secret Admirer. My heart raced in my chest. My stomach fluttered. Was it from him? Or... did someone else like me? But who? I packed the card in my bag, and dashed off to school, and wondered if my friend, too, had received Valentine's mail. She had not but, all credit to her, she did her very best to be happy for me and was willing to help me speculate about the card's sender. When the boy I liked was nearby, she helped me check if he glanced in my direction. Apparently, there was nothing different about his behaviour, but he might have been waiting to catch me on my own, or so I told myself.
Still filled with joy, I headed home and when my mom returned from work I told her all about my day and asked for her opinion. At which point she confessed to being the person who sent me the card because, as she put it, she didn't think anyone else would send me one. Again, it is difficult to put into words what I felt at that moment. Utter humiliation was certainly a part of the experience, especially as she'd been correct. Her card was the only card I had received. I retreated to my room for a right good sob.
The reason that I shared this story is to let you know that if you do not have anyone to share your Valentine's Day with, I get it. Whilst that year certainly stands out, it wasn't the only one I ended up with no guy, and no card, and one year when I did have a guy I discovered on Valentine's that he'd cheated on me, and I broke up with him on the spot. That wasn't a romantic experience, either.
I know that there are people who have, or have had it much worse than me. Those who found their perfect partner, and then that partner passed away. If that is you, I am deeply sorry for your loss. I hope that you are surrounded by friends and family who may share with you a different kind of love, but may it be a love that helps.
You may have been through a divorce, or a break-up. You may not have yet found anyone. You may be aromantic and be somewhat baffled or completely unbothered by the whole thing. Whoever you are and whatever your circumstances, there are ways in which you can still spend a pleasant Valentine's Day.
Of course, you can do your best to ignore it and treat it like any other day. I know, however, that this can be difficult when Valentine's Day stuff is everywhere. So, why not have some fun? Amongst the suggested contests and events for this week there are places where you can drop off some very unromantic stories and poems. There is also a contest in which you're asked to write about your love for your cat or your dog, or both, and that can always raise a smile in my experience. A great way to spend the day, though, I've found, is to make it a day on which you treat yourself. A you day.
Showing love for yourself can be difficult, which is odd when you think about it. Why are others deserving of nice gestures, but you are not? Why would you be willing to offer someone else their favourite food, favourite drinks, favourite snacks, buy them flowers and maybe even a gift, but it's too much bother when it's just you? You are worthy of love. You are worthy of kindness. You are worthy of nice things. Honestly, you are.
This Valentine's Day, then, do something nice. It doesn't have to be anything grand, though it can be if you want it to. What matters is that it puts a smile on your face. That's better than the alternative, isn't it? And, if there is someone in your life you have a crush on, there's still time to send a card...
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Wishing you a week filled with inspiration,
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