I had a staring contest with an overstuffed fluffed bear the other day.
I was in CVS and the shelves were vomiting Valentine's Day gifts.
I'm talking heart-shaped dark chocolate the size of my face and rows and rows of red and pink Hallmark cards that say the same thing but are addressed to different people.
Why do we all kind of want some of this stuff? Even if we say we don't. Even if we pretend to shrug our shoulders when we see sprouting bouquets of blood red roses being delivered to our co-workers on the 14th of February or scroll with huffs and puffs when we notice Instagram posts with hashtags #BestValentineEver or #ILuvMyBaeBae
I'll admit it.
I'm 26 and I still secretly keep my fingers crossed every year that someone will buy me a silly stuffed animal gorilla with pink bows in its hair and a printed t-shirt that says something brilliantly simple like "Loving you makes me bonkers".
I pass by the aisle of candy hearts and want to buy them for every single person that I know, too. Because celebrating love is something so gorgeously grand that we never seem to do enough.
That holiday makes us equate love to things and gifts and expectations. It makes us suddenly stop and pivot around in circles trying to quantify and justify the love we have in our lives.
You're a fool if you think love is supposed to rise to the surface like an overgrown pimple only one day a year.
As if the rest of our days are filled with empty wrappers and blasé feelings toward the people in our precious lives.
It's also foolish too, I think, if you don't take advantage of that day and celebrate the love you have for yourself.
Because why not? Because if you really want that white chocolate candy bar with peanut M&M red hearts inside of it - buy it for yourself. Just like if you want to a bouquet of something that smells nice to freshen up your apartment or a stuffed animal to squeeze, shell out the $5 bucks and make yourself happy.
If Valentine's Day is a day of loving things - love yourself.
Do you love yourself? Has anyone ever asked you that?
Sometimes I bet you do.
When your boss calls you into his office and offers you a 10% raise or when you type out the perfect comeback to say to a guy who has been tossing you around in his life like an unpaid Bank of America bill on the coffee table. Or when you finally open up a 401k and put 3% of your paycheck inside of it or when you find yourself waking up twenty minutes earlier every morning to stretch the sleep off your body.
But it's rare. It's forgettable. It's something we think we need a reason to do and that reason never seems to come when we think it should.
Right before Valentine's Day, a challenge from a fellow blogger landed at the top of my inbox.
She asked us to write a love letter to ourselves.
To put aside the other nouns that we have or no longer have in our lives and talk openly about what it is we admire ourselves for. What it is we should give ourselves a gigantic bear hug for.
This is what I wrote to myself.
You're a mess.
Sometimes, you have food all over your face and lipstick on your teeth and you're so lost in your thoughts you forget how to speak when a gorgeous guy with bright white teeth comes up to you and asks what your name is. Sometimes you want too much and forget how simple life is if you focus on the things you just need. Sometimes you forget that love is something you need to work toward. That love is something you need to open up your arms and say, YES, PLEASE, come to me. Even if it makes you jittery and scared and stress sweat. Even if you don't know how. Even if you don't think the person who is trying to love you will be there tomorrow or when you're old and wrinkley.
But you know what, Jen? You are strong. You are resilient. You are, sometimes, even fearless. You are all the things a 20-something should be: slightly in debt, slightly lost in their adventurous reality, slightly determined to make something absolutely beautiful out of their meaningful life.
Everyone deserves love. Wild, loyal, and courageous love. Even you, Jen. Even you. Never forget that.