In a few weeks, it will be Valentine’s Day, the one day of the year where the world stops to celebrate the beauty of love – specifically, couples in love. Although it has been held to mean love in the general sense – parents, siblings, friends – Valentine’s Day is indisputably a day for lovers. This is not a bad thing, necessarily. But the way society often views it, finding a partner equals success, at least in the emotional realm. We may live in a time where being young and successful is lauded as a great achievement, but the inevitable next question is often, who is your significant other? It seems you haven’t really “arrived” till you have someone to share it with.
The ideal of the young, rich bachelor or bachelorette is often held up as a lifestyle to emulate. But you know you’re getting mixed messages when entire entertainment industries are built on the premise of finding the “one true love” that will make your life complete. So it may come as no surprise when some singles view Valentine’s day as yet another reminder that they have failed to achieve that symbol of a successful life – a life partner.
But if the first lesson of love is to love yourself, it isn’t very loving to beat yourself up over the lack of a mate. Also, latching onto anyone who shows even a tiny bit of interest just so you can construct your ideal life around them is always a bad idea. It’s not going to last. Or if it does, it will only lead to more drama than is worth, because you end up in the position of giving more than you get back, and that can be draining, in any kind of relationship.
A friend once said, you are your own greatest investment. If you put all the energy spent searching for Mr or Ms Right into improving the quality of your own life, two things will happen. One, you begin to appreciate your own likes, dislikes and values, and when it’s clear to you what works and doesn’t work for you, it is that much easier to recognize the same qualities in another person. The second thing that will happen is that, as you begin to live your life already complete and fulfilled, in and of yourself – not waiting for the woman of your dreams or the man of your fantasies to arrive before taking that vacation at a beach resort – then that spectre of needing an “other” to make everything perfect will fade away.
Love is indeed designed to be shared, and when two compatible souls merge, it can be beautiful. But what is too often overlooked is the beauty of the single life. Every human being is capable of generating their own happiness, and to hinge your expectations of joy in life on whether or not you have an extra set of toiletries sitting next to yours in the bathroom cupboard limits the infinite capacity for joy within yourself.
So when Valentine’s Day comes around next, don’t let the focus of the celebration dampen your spirits. Love yourself first, and love will find you – not to complete you, but to add to the overall experience of your life. Live your life for you, not for the mythical, perfect person who will come and make everything fall into place. After all, before Beyoncé was Mrs Sean Carter, she used to “buy my own diamonds and buy my own rings”.
So I’m just sayin’.