From Hafiz to Hallmark, each Valentine’s Day we’re showered with messages that tell us to be praiseful of our partners, to celebrate our lovers, and to show the world just how much our relationships matter. A lot of people choose to spend Valentine’s Day with a significant other, participating in various time-honored traditions like trading gifts of chocolate or sharing a night out. Others have dubbed the day “Singles Awareness Day” to protest the commoditized and commercialized version of February 14th that we’ve come to know. But there are people in between. There are people for whom celebrating Valentine’s Day is not the norm, nor would they choose to ignore the holiday, and I am one of them.
I once heard a story about the red strings of fate. According to this ancient Chinese tale, the gods tie an invisible red thread around the ankles or fingers of those who are predestined to meet or help each other. Those connected by the thread are meant to be together, predetermined friends or lovers whose fates exist regardless of location or circumstance. Though the cord can stretch or tangle, it never breaks. While it’s one of the more interesting stories I’ve encountered in regards to building relationships, it reminds me of one of my least favorite societal expectations: the idea that we will all find “the one” and our lives will improve because of it.
I’ve always welcomed the idea of love – but not in the sense of finding a “true” version of it. I didn’t grow up with dreams of finding my fairytale prince or winning the affection of someone who made me seem more impressive than I could be on my own. I just wanted lots of friends, really. But I grew up understanding that there was a destiny for me, and that it needed to include falling in love.
Don’t get me wrong; I love easily. I love a lot of people, some really great places, and a few special things. I love people within moments of meeting them, be it because of how they talk out of the sides of their mouths or for their interesting way of explaining how to make iced coffee. I love people I’ve never even met or spoken to simply because they said or did something that I held on to. I haven’t learned any other way to be.
If you’re single, it’s easy to feel lost within the messaging surrounding Valentine’s Day. Perhaps you’re not ready for a relationship yet. Maybe you’re taking a break from commitment or giving yourself to things that take priority over other people, and that’s OK. Your success is not defined by the people who come into your life. Right where you’re at is where you’re meant to be. You are whole, and you are enough. It’s incredible how enough you are, and because of this, I invite you to end the search for your mythical “one.” You’re going to love a lot of people over the course of your life. The meaning behind that love will be different each time, and you’ll find your relationships growing and changing. This is OK. You are not obligated, nor should you be expected, to pursue affirmation or validation within the feelings and opinions of other people.
Find something within you that is true and search for purpose there. You are bringing something revolutionary to a table full of people still searching for answers simply by being here and celebrating the gifts that you have to offer. Your other half is not waiting to be found. You are both halves of the puzzle, and meeting people isn’t going to add to or detract from the things that you are.
This Valentine’s Day, consider the people on the other end of the red strings you’ve connected with during your life. Call your best friend and tell her you appreciate the gifts she brings into your life, hug your dog real tight, and honor the relationships in your atmosphere that are meant to be. But do not feel bad if those relationships don’t involve a romantic interest. This holiday is for you, too. You don’t have to be ‘in love’ for the love that you give to matter.
I leave you with a quote from one of my favorite poems, “Here Am I.” It’s by Anis Mojgani, and I think it says a lot about this thing, ‘love.’
“Will it make me something?
Will I be something?
Am I something?
And the answer comes;
and I still have time to be”
You are whole. You are not a list of terms and conditions waiting to be accepted and embraced. You are whole; you are whole; you are whole.