Happy Valentine’s Day to Me

February is the month of Valentine’s Day. It’s hard to forget because you can’t escape its grasp. Grocery stores, pharmacies, storefronts – all decked out with teddy bears and hearts and teddy bears holding hearts, starting in mid-January (and sometimes even earlier than that). Even my local coffee shop has heart-shaped donuts. It’s the time of roses, chocolate, and lingerie.

Except if it’s not.

I remember being in high school and desperately wanting to do something to celebrate the day other than just wear red. I wanted to have someone who would tie balloons to my locker and send me flowers and walk around holding my hand all day and sneak me kisses in the corner of the hallway when we thought no one was watching. There was always that one club or sports team that would be selling single roses for a couple bucks in the school lobby on Valentine’s Day, and I may have bought myself one at some point. I have this vague recollection of feeling completely pathetic for having done so. If someone had told me, as a dorky 16-year-old, that it was okay to buy myself a rose and feel good about my decision, I would have scoffed.

We spend a lot of time trying to find “the one,” our other half, our soulmate. We primp and preen to look amazing so that we can attract someone we are interested in. But when was the last time that you put in that much effort just for yourself? I’m guessing it’s been a while, if ever.

One of the many clichés that goes around about love is that you can only love someone else once you really love yourself. As cheesy and hokey as this line is, it does have a lot of validity. Frequently, people are attracted to, among other things, confidence and positivity. How can you have these qualities unless you do feel good about yourself?

Although it seems like perhaps the tides are turning on this, it used to be that praising yourself was viewed as arrogant and inappropriate. Taking care of yourself was deemed to be selfish. So many people put themselves on the bottom of their own priority lists, if they’re even on those lists at all, because that was how society dictated it should be. My favorite argument to counter this actually comes from the airline industry. You know that speech that flight attendants give before you take off? They say that if the air pressure in the cabin falls and the oxygen masks drop from the ceiling compartments, you should put your own mask on first before assisting those around you. Have you ever thought about that statement, the reasoning behind it? You can’t help someone else if you yourself can’t breathe.

So, how can you take that metaphorical breath for yourself? Start by setting aside some time for yourself each day; it doesn’t have to be a lot of time, even 5 or 10 minutes is better than nothing. Spend those few minutes doing something that you enjoy – solving the crossword puzzle, reading a chapter in that book that you never seem to have the opportunity to pick up, or just sitting down and doing nothing. Splurge on a present for yourself, just because you are. Wear something that makes you feel incredible and empowered. Think of 5 positive qualities about yourself and recite them to yourself in the mirror every day (yes, it sounds ridiculous; you’ll laugh the first few days, and then you won’t laugh any more… trust me on this one). There is no reason to wait for someone else to take care of you. You can take care of yourself.

You are worth the time and effort. Be your own valentine.