15 February 2019

From St Valentine to Roald DAHLentine: How and Why I Prioritised Self-Love

After sharing this post on Instagram last night, I decided that I wanted to talk a bit more about the notion of "Galentines", "Palentines" and various other takes on this lovestruck holiday. This is a blog for anyone else who, like me, doesn’t have a “valentines”... or a “galentines”! 

It can be hard enough to negatively compare with the loved-up couples on 14th February, which is perhaps why the concept of "Galentines Day" has proven so popular. Originating from a Parks and Recreation episode in 2010, it replaces the image of a wine-drinking, ballad-belting Bridget Jones with pamper nights and girlie brunches, featuring waffles and waffling messages of friend-love.

A recent survey by florist Bloom and Wild showed the rise in female-to-female gifting: "We found that Valentine's Day can be a time that is quite lonely, in particular for women not in relationships." However, what if the individual also doesn't have a gaggle of 'girlfriends' to go brunch with? What if we're more Eleanor Oliphant than #SquadGoals Taylor Swift? The remarkable popularity of Gail Honeyman's  book last year suggests that far more of us can relate to Eleanor than the Blair Waldorfs and Carrie Bradshaws of the world...

Perhaps, for some of us, the image of "Galentines" can be more isolating than its romantic namesake. So while many people chose "hoes before Bros" this week, I took inspiration from the motto of "Exeter University's ""English  Society" Tee and said "Prose before bros"... and hoes! I added the final two words, as I'm about as much of a "hoe" as Hermione Granger. As for the Prose, it was very much the beating heart of my Valentine's evening. Accompanied by a secondhand copy of Matilda, a pot of Modge Podge and some wooden hearts, I poured a cup of creativiTEA and "Dahlentine's Day" was born...
Meet my latest craft love - decoupage Book Page Badges! This also signals my first venture away from the Wizarding World on Etsy, which is definitely daunting and riddled with self-doubt. Nevertheless, as a girl who spent months writing an 8,000 word dissertation on Mr Dahl, it's safe to say that his stories hold a very special place in my heart. I've actually found making these such a cathartic process, as it's allowed me to revisit the stories outside of the Academia bubble and give them a second life.

What's more, these are the actual books that I used during my studies, so it seemed the perfect way to give them a second life. As the girl in Oxfam said, after noticing the book badge on my shirt: "you can literally wear your heart on your sleeve!" So yes, that's exactly what I did last Thursday. I chose book-tales over late-night cocktails and that's okay, Rather than compare negatively to the loved-up couples and girlie gatherings, I decided to spend time away from social media and stick to Sophie, because shouldn't that be the point of Valentines?

 "I  poured a cup of creativitea  and chose 
book-tales  over cocktails.  I switched off
 social media and switched my focus to Sophie."

This isn't to say that 14th February was spent entirely alone, but it was fancy-free and all about those little life joys. After dinner, mum surprised me with a *rock salt lamp and packet of Dark Chocolate Hearts, which was all about meaning over materialism. The lamp was something I mentioned months ago and thought may help my evening routine - in other words, encourage me to actually establish one, as I've been using my iPhone as a lamp and don't recommend!) Rock salt is meant to promote a calmer environment and, while it isn't "scientifically verified", I'm trusting the evidence of EXPERIENCE.

Even just a few days in, I can see a difference, mainly that my phone has been swapped for the pages of a book. Reading is something that - no surprises - I adore; however, this is the very reason reason why it can prove more difficult in recent years. Once I got to University, I spent so much time reading for my degree and very little reading "just for me." Thanks to Mama Bear and Mr Rock Salt, I've read every night since 14th February and it's the loveliest feeling. It's something to help me help myself - be kinder to myself, so very much supports the "self-love first" outlook.
As for the chocolate, I shocked myself by spontaneously eating one just after opening, thinking back to Advent and how much I loved my after-dinner chocolate. Mum and dad were having theirs, so why couldn't I? I wanted to live in the moment and say "yes Mind Muggles, that IS allowed!" I will not deprive myself or criticise myself, negatively comparing to what others may be doing in the outside world. I'll be honest, it isn't like I have a phonebook of people ready to ring up and say "Be my Galentine." However, what I do have is a wonderful family and a select few friends I am thankful for 365 days of the year.

Just last night, I finished wrapping surprise care packages for three of them, knowing how much those things have meant to me in the past. I didn't do it to mark "the month of love", or any other hasthagable occasion; I saw/made these things for than individual alone. As Nicole wrote so beautifully at the end of last year, "there is a special place in my heart for the ‘I saw this and thought of you’ type of things"... it makes me feel like, because I like the gift, I almost like myself - or at least a small part of myself that shined through to my loved ones." I hope my care packages can do likewise! (Ps: three guesses who one of them might be for?)

So in the moment, I will not dwell on the dinners I wasn't invited to at University, or the Romeo Newt Scamander I am yet  to find. I will try to be content with me like Luna Lovegood would be, because that is the advice I would give anyone else - why don’t I deserve the same? Others may have had  the cocktails, the brunches and the bouquet of roses, but don't feel ashamed if you didn't. A diamond may be another girl's best friend, but don't worry if it wasn't yours. Don't feel like you've done something "wrong" if, like me, Valentine's wasn't #Instaready or "Squad Goals." You are enough just as you are.


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