Fresh Perspective | How to celebrate Valentine’s Day while single

Fresh Perspective is a biweekly blog about typical college experiences made strange by the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Julia Smeltzer, Staff Writer

The month of February is upon us, and that means one thing — Valentine’s Day, single people’s least favorite holiday, is right around the corner. Spending a whole day around happy couples who are in love may seem dreadful to those who don’t have anyone to share it with, but there are still ways to enjoy Feb. 14 and show yourself some love, even if you are not in a relationship.

Growing up, Valentine’s Day was one of my favorite holidays to celebrate in school. We decorated brown paper bags with our names and stickers and went around the classroom filling up everyone’s bags with assorted candy and stickers while we snacked on pink cupcakes and frosted cookies. I recall my parents getting us little heart-shaped boxes filled with chocolates that were empty by the end of the day. At that age, Valentine’s Day was about showing love and appreciation to our friends, classmates, and parents. However, as I got older into my late teenage years, it started to feel like a holiday only couples were able to celebrate.

I’ve been single for many Valentine’s Days, and I’ve stopped worrying about not being in a relationship when the holiday comes around. Last Feb. 14, I got ready in my dorm and went to a cute coffee shop, walked around shops on Forbes Avenue, and ended the night at dinner with my friends. My floor even gave each other cards like I did back in elementary school. Now I use this day to show love to myself and my friends, and there are ways you can do that too.

Valentine’s Day is a great day for some self-care. Whether that means doing face masks with your friends, buying yourself flowers or getting your favorite takeout for dinner, show yourself some love. Get together with your friends, grab a bottle of wine and enjoy your time with them. Sometimes we can feel more loved surrounded by our friends than in a relationship, so don’t be too worried if you are single this holiday. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves on Valentine’s Day to spend it with a significant other, but it’s just as important to reciprocate that energy into yourself. If you start seeing this holiday as an excuse for some extra self-care, you’ll start to enjoy it more and more every year.

Another great way to enjoy this holiday is to show love to a charity or small business in the community. If you’re not spending money on gifts or dates with your partner, you have a little extra change to make a business or charity feel good.

There are a ton of small coffee and flower shops in Oakland, Shadyside and Squirrel Hill that can benefit from your business. If you’re thinking about donating to a charity, think about sending some love to the children of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. If you don’t have any extra change to throw around, you can send an electronic Valentine’s Day card to the kids and give them something special. Another small business that can benefit from your love is the Black Cat Market Cat Café on Penn Avenue. You can sip your coffee while cuddling some furry felines, and it is a great small business to give back to in the Pittsburgh community.

Valentine’s Day looks different to all of us. Some may be spending it with the love of their life or crying over an ex they miss. Whether you are in a relationship or not, spend this day giving love to yourself and your friends. Take yourself out for coffee, buy yourself a bouquet and tell your friends and family that you love them. The past two years were hard on everyone with the pandemic, and we all need a little extra love for ourselves and the people we care about this year.

Julia Smeltzer writes primarily about mental health and college experiences. You can reach her at [email protected].