Valentine’s Day and Self-Celebration: Seven Ways I Have Grown While Being Single

“The Birth of Venus” — Botticelli

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and for single people, whether they admit it or not, it isn’t an easy holiday. I’ve been single a long time, and there was a period of time where I would pretend that a holiday devoted to love didn’t make me feel more alone. I would just scoff and roll my eyes when people would bring up the holiday, or if a friend was telling me about their plans, I would smile and be supportive while contemplating the seemingly endless days of my singleness. I know that many single people out there have had similar reactions. These days, the culture has changed to at least try to make single people feel less alone during the celebration of love. There are more group events and families sometimes use the day as an opportunity to get together, but sometimes there isn’t anything to do. With people locked down in an effort to avoid Corona Virus, many single people may find themselves at home, alone, and depressed this Valentine’s Day. In an attempt to avoid a sad Valentine’s Day vibe, one thing I am doing this year is celebrating how much I have grown while single. The life lessons I’ve came to as a single person are priceless and will help me in all my ventures to come whether single or partnered. I think that the amount of time alone that I have had has given me the opportunity to really learn some things I wouldn’t necessarily have realized otherwise. I invite you to ponder my life lessons, and if you are alone this Valentine’s Day, perhaps you can rethink the holiday as an opportunity to celebrate the growth you’ve experienced while single. What have you learned while single? How have you grown? If you aren’t sure right now, Valentine’s Day may be the right time to journal out your response to these questions. If you haven’t been single very long and feel like the experience hasn’t presented opportunities for growth, now might be a good time to think of some ways you could grow. That way you can make the most of being single.

1. I started going on and enjoying solo adventures.

At first, I was resentful and depressed about having to do activities by myself. I felt like the exhilarating hike on a new mountain side, the intimate concert at a nearby venue, or summer road trips weren’t as fun without a partner. What I discovered though was a sense of accomplishment each time I challenged my fear of isolation and the unknown. I liked that I went on hikes in new places by myself. I had fun at concerts even if I was alone. I came to enjoy my time traveling alone. It was a great way to get away from everything and reconnect with myself. I like that I don’t deprive myself of fun experiences just because I am alone. Learning this lesson has made me think that my single friends who just stay at home doing the same old things because they don’t have an activity partner are missing out. If you can’t enjoy adventures by yourself, how can you have fun with others? If anything, you can use your time as a single person to pursue new experiences, and later when you are in a relationship, you will have more ideas about fun activities to do.

2. I opened myself to advice from the best of the best.

After being single so long, I found myself in a state of despair. I felt lost, like my single status could be remedied with good advice even if the advice brought me out of my comfort zone. I started paying more attention to what successful people were saying and doing. I used YouTube and Instagram as a means of getting advice from people I admire. I figured that I could learn from them if I paid more attention to the things they posted and tried out some of their ideas. I read new books, tried new looks, and started journaling. I adopted new self-care regimens, contemplated new ideas, tried new exercises, and challenged some of my long held views. What started as a means to remedy my singleness turned into an interesting exercise in self-development.

3. I worked on myself and grew.

Because I opened myself up to new ideas and perspectives as part of my self-development journey, I actually spent some money on classes designed to promote growth. I participated in some classes about alchemy and magic, which are topics I really enjoy. I did Dr. Jordan Peterson’s self-authoring course and found it useful. I really sorted out a lot about what I want from life, and it made me think about myself differently. I started realizing that there were certain steps to improve my life that I hadn’t been taking, and I thus started to work on those areas. After that, I signed up for a class for improving confidence and communication as well as a course on achieving success through habits. In the past, I’ve avoided these types of classes because I didn’t really think they could help me, but as I came to challenge some of my long-held beliefs about my potential, I realized these self-help classes could be just the thing I need. I’ve been learning new things from the classes though it’s too early to say if the communication and habit courses are helping. I’m glad that I became open to trying them out if nothing else.

4. I learned more about my own boundaries.

Although I opened myself up to advice and self-development during this solitary phase in my life, I also really determined what my boundaries are and how to exercise them. I definitely tried out new things, but some of the advice I encountered along the way just wasn’t for me. If something contradicted my ethics or allowed negativity to make its way in, I followed my instinct and set whatever boundary needed to be set. This was something I needed to do as I took bad advice in the past, which caused a lot of problems. I also let people take advantage of my generosity and kindness in the past, so really committing to my own boundaries was something I started prioritizing while single. I also realized that I sometimes compromised my own boundaries if bored or depressed and recommitted to taking care of myself in more positive ways that don’t compromise my beliefs.

5. I stopped having anxiety about not pleasing people.

Until recently, I used to have a lot of anxiety about pleasing people, so for the most part, I kept my opinions to myself. I’m not one of those people who feels the need to spill my opinions out and force them on others, but I found myself in the position of uneasy silence. Being single gave me the time I needed to realize that my voice and my views are just as valuable as the views of others. In the past, I would keep silent and let other people dominate conversations, so they would be happy. My silence gave the impression of agreement, but then when people discovered I didn’t actually agree with them, they would feel confused. My classic response was that I would have stated my opinion if they would have asked; I was simply being polite by refraining from stating my opinion. The truth is that I would get anxiety about displeasing people if I had opposing views. However, it dawned on me that I have just as much right to my opinions even if they don’t echo the opinions of the people around me. Now, instead of having anxiety about my opinions, I politely say them if I feel the need to, and if other people are displeased, that’s their problem. While I wish that people were more tolerant of different viewpoints, I understand that, in reality, some people just can’t deal with opposition. That doesn’t put the burden on me though. I believe it is our duty to be true to ourselves and express our genuine opinions without anxiety if for no other reason than the fact that one of the dangers society faces when people keep silent is ideological tyranny, the social climate seen in dictatorships.

6. I learned how to let go of toxic relationships.

This was difficult for me as someone who prides myself on my loyalty, understanding, and compassion, but I came to realize that other people didn’t offer me the same treatment. I learned that wishful thinking about people changing and becoming the friends they once were is unrealistic. I also came to realize that the damage from old relationships wouldn’t change. There are logical reasons why old relationships fell apart, so idealizing them or hoping they change back to what they once were is a bad idea. Toxic relationships might present the illusion of change but are ultimately draining. During my time as a single person, I found peace within solitude and realized that sometimes it is for the best to let go of old relationships. In many cases, the process can be painful. I had to cut away relationships that spanned decades and were once built on close affinity. The truth is though that the relationships in themselves were painfully one-sided or dysfunctional. It is better to be alone than to be part of a toxic relationship. To rid myself of dead end relationships is to offer myself compassion and allow room for potential new relationships to blossom.

7. I opened myself up to faith in the unknown.

This was the hardest thing for me as a single person who doesn’t want to be single anymore. It’s not so much that being single is bad, but I’ve been single for years and am ready for a relationship. However, I came to realize that I was making things more painful for myself because I was lacking faith in the unknown. I wanted love to work out in a certain way, and as time passed, I spent each day in anxiety, trying to think of remedies for my situation. Much of my early life was somewhat erratic and even chaotic at times. To make up for it, I became a very orderly person. I liked contemplating and planning for variables in order to evade mischance. To do this, I had to always be on: observing, thinking, and judging. It required a lot of effort. I sometimes wanted to try to control outcomes that cannot be controlled. I didn’t trust chance. Once I finally recognized this about myself, I decided to relieve myself of some of that burden. I came to terms that I can’t just make love happen; it takes two and develops naturally. Instead of sitting and contemplating what I wanted in life and how to get it, I started focusing more on being the person I want to be. Doing this was like stepping through a gateway into an unknown land. This would have been anxiety provoking in the past, but now I enter into the unknown with a more gentle curiosity, not knowing what to expect of life but being okay with that. My faith in the unknown is possible because I have faith in my self-worth. I may not have a plan regarding love, but I now know it will come naturally when it is right; I no longer need to be afraid even if I don’t know what will happen next.

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