Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"Life is Like a Box of Chocolates"

I have always found Valentine’s Day to be a very strange, if not the strangest holiday there is.  Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t dislike this chocolately, stuffed animally, pink flowery day one bit.  In fact, I welcome all of the above with open arms.  I mean, who could hate a fluffy koala bear in hugging position with the words “I love you” painted across his chest?  Not my personal #1 pick but definitely nothing to get all hot and bothered about.

On this commercialized day dedicated to the expression of love, men and women alike scramble to the stores as if summoned by a higher power to pick up that perfect card, piece of chocolate, flowers etc to show that special someone how much they care.  Although slightly bothersome, it is not so much the cliché of it all, which seems so unnatural, that irritates and confuses me most- I mean if your love is genuine and deep isn't it only natural to express these feelings in the simple and random acts we carry out on a day to day basis, not just on February 14 each year?

I am more bothered and saddened by the people who inevitably feel excluded by this day.  Of course there are the cards for mom, dad, sister, brother etc, but let’s be serious, this holiday is about romance- the love in your life, the significant other which many either have not yet found or have lost.  Perhaps I feel this way because I have directly observed loneliness manifested in patients who revisit not because they have a medical complaint or need for follow-up but rather because they have a need for company, someone they can talk to not just about their problems but about their stories and lives in general.  People need people for both verbal and non-verbal communication.  They need them for touch.  In this world of quickly advancing technology, human interaction is a vital component of wellness that has become neglected in modern society.  I digress.

The point being to my singleton friends out there on this Valentine’s Day I have just 2 things to say:

Embrace your singleton lifestyle
Be comfortable and cherish the solitude.  Once you accept and embrace this as part of the journey you will undoubtedly draw much more pleasure from your circumstance.  When I was in my residency, living alone and working ridiculous hours, it’s amazing how lonely you can feel in the city that never sleeps, especially on cold wintery days…especially on Valentine’s Day.  Whenever I started to feel myself getting in a rut- which is easy to do when you’re on call Saturday night walking by the bars and restaurants filled with warmth and laughter in the snow on the way to the hospital, I would immediately remind myself to be thankful for this moment.  Not easy but a definite survival mechanism.  And once you create that mindset for yourself, you are able to embrace your circumstance and use it to its full potential.  For a perfect situation to materialize you need love, geography and chance to align.  Since that is almost never the case, you must make do with what you do have.  For me, that meant meeting my future husband during the most difficult and busy year of my life in medical training.  We were separated for four years and although I had no idea we would end up married in the end, he was there for me through the very difficult times, even though geography wasn’t on our side.  That time alone- four Valentine's Days to be exact (how can I forget dinner for one?)- was essential for my self-awareness; I grew to better understand myself and as an extension what was most important to me in a relationship. 

Embrace the unexpected
If you are anything like me, you just may have a mental checklist of who or what you are looking for in a significant other.  Some of my friends even have it down to exact height, weight and eye color- scary!  I am not telling you to throw away your list or to lower your standards or to settle *gasp*!  I would never!  In fact, I am saying just the opposite.  Keep your standards high and never settle.  But maybe revise the list such that it reflects only the depth of character you seek in your significant other- what is truly important to you?  Are they honest? Giving? Funny?  Those individual fundamental values that are essential to you are very personal and should never be sacrificed.  But in my opinion, the superficial ones don’t need to be on the list-the line “has 2 cats and no dogs”…you can cross that line off.  Be flexible.  Once you confine yourself to an ideal you have created, you work against yourself.  You are essentially prematurely excluding the best thing that may be about to knock on your door (figuratively and literally).  So embrace the unexpected and see what happens.  "You never know what you're gonna get." 

Time to make dinner- no idea what’s on the menu yet tonight but we are cooking!

Whether you are in mad crazy love, long-term comfy love or a simply spectacular singleton, embrace your moment and have a Happy Valentine's Day!

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