With Valentine’s Day upon us once again, U of T students are beset by an intense urge to enjoy a nice, romantic evening filled with red wine, white chocolate, and pink heart emojis. In reality, this isn’t always an option. Many of us find ourselves single by the time February rolls around and must spend the day of love alone.

Valentine’s Day is an emotionally exhausting holiday. It’s common for people in relationships on V-Day to expect bitterness from single people or to look at them with pity — even if they enjoy being single. This can cause singles to wonder whether there might be something wrong with them.

Cupid is a pretty popular guy — most of society eats up all of his propaganda. Google searches show countless magazines, newspapers, and blogs running stories on “gifts for him” or “gifts for her” or “gifts for 2018.” This love-crazy and deeply consumerist holiday ostracizes those who are single and makes us second-guess our own lives simply because it’s so normalized in our culture to prioritize romantic gratification over other ideals.

We can challenge this climate together — and if we really examine the circumstances of being single on Valentine’s Day, we might realize that the situation can actually be preferable to the alternative.

First and foremost, it’s cheaper to be single. With Christmas and Valentine’s Day only a month and a half apart — not to mention the countless birthdays that might pass in between — these holidays always manage to hit us where it hurts: our wallets. Last year, I had friends ask to borrow money to buy Christmas gifts for their beaus, else complain that they needed to pick up extra shifts to cover holiday expenses. While Christmas spending feels more justifiable due to its selfless and family-focused nature, Valentine’s Day has no such excuse. Last year, Canadians spent an average of $58 on each gift, not including dinner or new outfits. This year, CNBC reports that over half of American consumers are expected to spend $143.56 each on Valentine’s shenanigans. Singles on Valentine’s Day, however, get to save every dime they can.

Those without significant others can also use this time to do special things for themselves. You can be almost certain that parties and friends won’t distract you on Valentine’s Day, with the majority of people too preoccupied with dating or moping about not dating. At Bustle, they suggest everything from “Galentine’s Day” to shopping to trying out new recipes.

As university students caught between social prospects and academic performance, we should relish the opportunity to be free of both sets of constraints. In this way, we can use Valentine’s Day as a period of self-actualization.

Finally, choosing to enjoy a Valentine’s Day on your own is empowering. A relationship is so much more satisfying when you don’t need it to validate your existence, or when the fear of being lonely does not motivate your attachment. Really consider what a big statement it is to just enjoy your Valentine’s Day instead of dreading it. We have no one to answer to when it comes to our singlehood. Our lives are fully our own, and we can take pride in spending the day by ourselves, because there is absolutely no shame in that. If we choose to accept our realities without excuses or explanations, we can forgive ourselves for not being where we thought we’d be or where society tells us we should be, and we can teach others to treat us with that respect and compassion as well.

The most important thing to remember about Valentine’s Day is that it’s optional. You can choose to spend it in whatever way best fits you and your current situation. Though it may feel disappointing to not have a significant other, there are so many significant people in our lives that prevent us from ever being truly alone. So enjoy your half-priced chocolate on February 15 and support your completely deserved, self-centred ‘Valentine’s Slay.’

Jenisse Minott is a third-year student at UTM studying Communications, Culture, Information, and Technology and Professional Writing. She is The Varsity‘s Associate Comment Editor.