It’s Valentine’s Day today. You may have noticed. For some of you, that means special dates, gifts, chocolates, heart-shaped pancakes, and all manner of relatively bad candy in various shades of red and pink. Or maybe it means helping your school age child prepare a couple dozen Valentine’s cards to hand out to classmates. For most people who are single, though, Valentine’s Day tends to be little more than a reminder of their status as single. It’s a sad, lonely day for them.
But not for me. I’ve always been a bit to practical to get worked up about Valentine’s Day, and too determined to be content with my life. For me, it’s just a little holiday that I don’t really participate in. I feel the same way about it that most people feel about St. Patrick’s day. No big deal, but I don’t resent it either.
For a single person, that’s a blessing in itself.
But today I’ve also been thinking about social expectations. I’m not sure how things work up here, but down in the Bible Belt, and pretty often among Christians, the expectation is that people get married young. This can get uncomfortable when those expectations come into conflict with reality. Like when people say, “When are you going to get married?” As if it were that simple. Or like when people try to console you–“Oh, I know plenty of people who didn’t get married until they were nearly 30.” I know they mean well, but . . . awkward. The problem is that people who are wrapped up in that expectation of single people are implicitly unable to accept them as they are. They are acceptable on future terms–who they will be as someone’s wife (or husband, although the pressure is less intense for men than women). Again, these people are well meaning. They are simply products of the social system they are a part of.
So, I’ve been thinking about this today and about how grateful I am to have a whole lot of friends who just take me as I am. It doesn’t matter that I’m not married or dating. It doesn’t matter that I might not ever get married. All that matters is me. Just that I’m their friend, and that I’m happy. I love it that my married friends don’t treat me like a third (or fifth, or seventh) wheel when I’m with them. I love that I don’t feel left out or Other or in anyway uncomfortable around them. All that matters is who I am right now. And that’s all the happy Valentine’s a girl like me needs.