By: James McLaughlin
Red roses, lit candles, and pink heart-shaped pieces of construction paper come to mind when I think of Valentine’s Day. For some this holiday is a reminder of their love for a significant other – but for many, Valentine’s Day is a painful reminder of the lack of a romantic relationship.
In managing the Project HEAL blog, I have found that there is a level of importance in keeping the blog relevant to current events. And so, it is appropriate to question the relevance of posting a piece of writing two weeks after a holiday – I’ll get to that later.
Being gay, and growing up in a small suburban town limited my pursuits of romance. I didn’t have a boyfriend to swap sweatshirts with, ask to prom, or be mine. Although I longed for another person to “call my own,” I realized the importance of loving myself.
In coming out I learned that others would not accept me until I accepted myself – similarly I’ve learned that one must love themselves before being able to fully accept the love of others.
Valentine’s Day offers an opportunity to show our love, to the ones we love – but shouldn’t we show love to ourselves? For those who are not in a relationship, the idea of “lacking” does not stem from the absence of a significant other, but by the absence of acknowledging the relationship that we keep with ourselves.
Last year, at the age of 24, when I celebrated my first Valentine’s Day with my first boyfriend, I wanted to make things particularly special. It was a celebration of not only our love for one another, but also a celebration of what can happen when two people accept and love themselves enough to accept and love another.
This year we celebrated our second Valentine’s Day. It was special, with flowers, candles and the exchanging of thoughtful handwritten cards. This past Sunday the flowers had run their course and were thrown out.
There’s a running joke among those who are single about sending oneself flowers on Valentine’s Day. Maybe a better idea for not only singles, but also those of us in relationships is to plant a flower.
Let the flower be a symbol of the love you keep for yourself. Flowers take care to grow and bloom – just as love needs our continued maintenance. Prune parts of your life that keep you from blooming, allow yourself enough sunlight, and dance in the rain.
Talking to plants may or may not encourage growth. However, talking about your feelings to a professional, trusted friend or to yourself, through journaling, will prove to be one of the greatest ways to help grow a deep-rooted love for yourself.
I don’t feel my boyfriend’s love anymore on the 14th of February than on the 2nd of September, the 18th of May, the 10th of November, and so on – so why should anyone feel any less on February 14th?
I think that no matter what day of the year, we should show ourselves love, and continue to grow our relationships with ourselves.
About the Author: James McLaughlin recently became the blog manager for Project HEAL. He is a senior at Montclair State University majoring in Communication & Media Arts. His hope in managing the Project HEAL blog is to be a link between informative and inspiring content & a readership who can relate, grow and find peace with each written word.