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Beyond Roses

Manic in Manila

While I do not recall the exact moment that I stopped being a fan of Valentine’s Day, I do recall an incident that stuck the knife and twisted it in its befrilled, lace-trimmed, highly commercialized heart.

Flashback some years ago, to a day in life that brought this point home in a way that hurt – and angered – my sensibilities, as a mother, but also as a woman: Valentine’s Day 2011. My daughter was in fifth grade, and she came home, visibly upset, but doing her best not to let on. A bit of prodding and a big hug later, the beans came spilling out: “Why did some girls get roses, and I didn’t, Mama? The school sold roses today, and some of us didn’t get any…” Now mind you, my daughter is absolutely gorgeous by any standard (not just by the “I’m her mother, and she’s gorgeous in MY eyes” standard), but she is the type who purposely avoids being one of the “populars.” She is quite the anti-“IT-girl,” and honestly, her dad and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Being able to stand up to peer-pressure; being more concerned with substance of character than mere outward beauty – these are qualities most parents seek to instill in their children. This, as far as we see it, is the way to go.

But not in the world’s eyes. The world seems to reward the superficial and the shallow. The world seems smitten by the popular. The world loves giving roses to those who sway and swoon perhaps a little too exaggeratedly.

After getting over my annoyance that the school had thought it a “good idea” to encourage “romantic rose-giving” among young school graders (DUH???), I quickly re-assured my daughter of what she already knew, but momentarily became insecure of: that her beauty goes beyond being gifted with roses. Way, way beyond.

Aaah, those three special words: I love ME!

What to do, if you don’t receive roses? Are alone on Valentine’s Day? Fall short of the “popular” mark?

Do we wallow in self-pity? Suffer the blues in a peculiar shade of red, white and pink? Shoot a certain cherub with a crossbow, as a heart-eating zombie with no worthwhile purpose in life?

No!
We embrace our alone-ness.
We find our own beauty and self-worth.

We love who we are. Not in a Justin Bieber song “Love Yourself” kind of way. Nor in a Narcissistic Personality Disorder millennial kind of way – don’t shoot the messenger! Sadly for millenials, there are countless studies to back this up – but in a healthy, self-respecting kind of way.

AND… we spoil ourselves silly. We, after all, deserve it!

“I LOVE ME!” The words may seem alien to you, and may take a while to roll off your tongue, but say them out loud; with feeling! We all too often speak negative words about ourselves, that we believe our own negativity and become our own biggest critics: “I’m so fat,” “I’m not good enough,” “I’ll never make it,” “I look awful,” “I’ll never be happy,” “I’ll never get that job/be rich/be successful,” are among the top ego-smashers we tell ourselves.

We need to change all that and be our own biggest fan and learn to love – and cheer for– ourselves.

Goodbye, knight in shining armor (or, princess to kiss the poor frog, as the case may be)

Hours are wasted, pining away for love; waiting to be loved; keeping our fingers crossed for love to find us. Like a princess holding out for a knight in shining armor, or a prince guised as a frog, waiting for that maiden’s kiss, yearning for that special love; meanwhile feeling empty, lost and incomplete without it. On that note, it is funny that most literature with which we grow up conditions little girls to passively wait for the knight, while little boys are trained to be pro-active in the search and throw grand parties and balls to that end (except, of course, for that poor Frog Prince, who had no choice). Thankfully, this is slowly changing, as long-held stereotypes are questioned and destroyed.

We wait, empty and yearning for someone to fill the void. Some wait ‘til they’re blue in the face or the cows come home, whichever comes first; while others wait in vain – because that’s not usually how life works.

To be loved, we must first have love to give. And this starts with loving yourself.

Alone, but NOT lonely

If Valentine’s Day rolls around and you find yourself alone, or you find yourself sans a bouquet of roses, do not despair. Instead, take a step towards loving yourself. Pamper yourself.

Treat yourself to your day of shopping. Go on a movie or dinner date for one – and ENJOY it! Curl up and read that good book for which you never seem to have time. Or, find a friend and paint the town your own shade of red.

And remember… you are worth it! Indulge in that pleasure, minus the guilt.

 

By ANGIE DUARTE

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