Obligatory Seasonal Article
There are those for whom Valentine’s Day is a day of happiness. They have a significant other to send the day with. Or if they don’t, then they have firm plans to be with someone or something whose company they enjoy. Regardless, they greet the hearts, flowers, cards, and other things that they give and receive as if it was another Christmas. Lucky them.
Then there are those for whom Valentine’s Day is anything but a day of happiness. These people are alone on Valentine’s Day, and it is *not* by choice. Some are separated from their loved ones because of work, school, illness, or even death. Others don’t have anyone special to spend the day with, often through no fault of their own, and may (metaphorically speaking) have even had their hearts ripped out previously. For them, the day is nothing more than a bad reminder of what they don’t have, and what they’re afraid they may never have again. The sight of other people in love further despairs them. And all the trinkets that go with the day? Only if they buy them themselves.
As you can imagine, this column is for and about this second group.
It’s all too common for people who don’t have anyone on Valentine’s Day to spend the day locked away indoors by themselves. After all, the logic goes, if they don’t have anything or anyone special on this day, then why bother going anywhere? Meanwhile, others may not have a choice in the matter, as their circumstances (such has hospitalization) may prevent them from going anywhere. Staying isolated, however, is one of the worst things that can happen. Not only does it shut them out from social experiences that could improve their circumstances, it also leaves them with time on their hands to dwell on – and thus mentally reinforce – their situation.
If you find yourself in this situation, then there are ways around it you may be able to do. If you are obligated to be indoors, then don’t let the time go to waste. Finish that book you’ve been trying to finish. Catch up on your Netflix queue. Discover a new hobby. Don’t just sit around counting flowers on the wall. But if you can get out, get out. Yes, you can treat yourself to a movie and/or a meal. But you can also go for a walk. Or volunteer. In fact, if you do volunteer, you might wind up helping others who are just like you, people who for one reason or another are alone on Valentine’s Day.
And if you know someone who is in this situation? Granted, it all depends upon the specific circumstances of the individual, but one of the best things you can probably do is be a friend. Do try to understand them. Don’t try to “fix” them unless you’re a qualified expert. Do make it a point to talk to them. Don’t let things drag down too far into depression about what and why. Do motivate them to keep going. Don’t be pushy or insistent. Do try to find a balance between constructive criticism (if warranted) and harmful criticism. Don’t put yourself out on a limb or try to “save” them. And so on.
Yes, the holidays can be stressful for people. This is especially the case when a person feels pressured or even compelled to participate when it isn’t how they’re actually feeling. And they can even amplify the feelings of being alone. But there’s a difference between being alone and being lonely. You just have to find it.