• Frankie Smith

I'm 16, single, and have never had a Valentine

Updated: Feb 14

Let's start this story in 1st grade. I had a crush on this boy. He had a crush on me. Simple. My school had a TV broadcast and come February, they were doing a Valentine's Day episode. When a reporter came to my classroom and asked for a volunteer, every single hand shot up; it was a first grader's dream to be featured. There was a one out of twenty-something chance I'd get chosen, and somehow the odds went in my favor. Two eighth-graders took me out to the garden and asked a simple question: "Who is your Valentine?" Immediately, with no hesitation or embarrassment, "(the boy's name)."

Fast forward to 7th grade. This boy and I liked each other for months, and we both knew it. We texted constantly, played Fortnite, and I considered him "my best guy friend." Eventually, that silly little friendship turned into silly little feelings, and we became a silly little couple. Only, it wasn't just any relationship, it was a "middle school relationship." We were expected to hold hands, awkwardly slow dance at school dances, and sit next to each other on the bus to the science museum.

Middle-school me had this fixed outlook on what it meant to be "taken." I looked at other couples in my grade and saw an expiration date. I couldn't value even a little crush I had without thinking of when it would dissolve. Why? I don't know.

Fast forward to now. Since my middle school relationship, I've never actually had a real boyfriend. The disappointing fact of the matter is further driven home every time my grandparents come to town. They always pop the question: "Frankie you have grown into such a beautiful young woman, do you have a boyfriend yet?!" When the answer is a disheartening "no," I get bombarded with follow-up questions. "Well do you think anyone is cute?" "Is there anyone at school?" "You haven't met anyone that you've had an interest in?" Blah blah blah...

Some days, my mom comes home from work after having a long-time client. She tells me tales of the facial experience: how they caught up with each other, how their kids are doing, how they saw me on my mom's Facebook, and how I've grown so much. In my head, I know what road we're about to go down. "They asked if you have a boyfriend yet, I said no, and they just started raving about how pretty you are, how you probably have boys lined up," my mom giddily says.

Now, every year when valentine's day rolls around, I feel this pressure to be in a relationship or to just have a valentine in general. Having a boyfriend/girlfriend is such an expectation in order to be happy. Without one, people, me included, might feel like they are doing something wrong. Like they aren't pretty enough or their personality isn't enough. Sure, it would be nice to have a boyfriend, but this is such a toxic mindset to be in. We are all deserving of happiness, regardless of our relationship status.

So, if you are like me and are single on Valentine's Day this year, don't feel bad. Having a person to call your "Valentine" does not define your worth. I am going to take this Valentine's day as one to focus on all the love that surrounds me, rather than dwelling on something I don't have. For all my singles out there: being grateful for what is already in your life is the first step to loving it.

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