Back in MY Day…

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day 2022. I’ve never enjoyed Valentine’s Day. The artificial sweetness professed as “true love,” acrid chocolates placed in heart-shaped boxes, and anvil-like pressure placed upon partners to present the “best gift ever” disgust me. Why would I need my partner to spend hundreds, or thousands of dollars to profess love to me on ONE prescribed calendar day when there are 364 (sometimes 365) other opportunities a year to demonstrate love and compassion authentically?

I’ve been told that I’m jaded because I’ve never truly had a good Valentine’s Day. No one has ever gone out of their way to shower me with gifts, or affections. No partner has ever found “the secret to my heart” by giving me a gift so fabulous that I cried. I guess the same can be said for any other calendar day that comes equipped with its own set of characters, and artificial expectations. Even my birthday feels more like a burden than a celebration to those who try to attend to me.

Alas, this post wasn’t intended to lament about sickly sweet chocolate, arrows through hearts, and diamond crusted wishes. It’s supposed to be about the shifts in time, perspectives, and goals that I’ve witnessed in the past 25 of my life. (Amazing that I can even acknowledge that amount of time shifting.)

This post was intended to discuss goals; the scary goals, the irrational goals that we place on ourselves based on the pressures that we perceive society puts on us. I was a few weeks shy of 25 when I got married. Back then; yes I went there, I was OLD! Many of my friends were already married with at least one child by age 25. Most had long-term relationships and joint goals with their partners. Then, there was me. Lost. Broken.

I can’t remember how much of my life was spent listening to people telling me that I simply wasn’t good enough for them. I was an outcast. I was unique. Was? Pfft, I still am. Along came Prince Charming reminding me of how lucky I was that he was even paying attention to me. I wasn’t good enough for him, but he would grant me the favour of loving me and offering me the world. I didn’t want him to give me the world. I wanted to be good enough. I tried. I cried. I compressed every part of myself that wasn’t “perfect” in his eyes. I eliminated people from my life. I made excuses for his behaviours. I pretended that each new milestone would bring my long sought after joy. It didn’t. I failed myself.

When I look at my younger friends, the people who are just starting their adult lives. These young women are so sure of themselves. They know what they want out of life, and won’t stand for any bullshit. They set goals for themselves, and their partners support them. They set goals with their partners. They communicate. The things they seek out of life are vastly different than what I sought at their age. I am learning from them. I am LEARNING about life through the eyes of women that I wish I was strong enough to be.

Back in MY day, compromise meant destroying your own thoughts and dreams in order to be loved. Back in MY day, being loved only happened if you conceded to what the stronger partner wanted. Back in MY day, being disappointed was part of life; we accepted it because it’s what we felt we deserved. Back in MY day, we relented to keep the peace. Back in MY day, I wish I had the strength of the women I know today.

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