I’ve always loved sending holiday well wishes. It’s somewhat of a tradition for me, I guess I revere sending words of goodwill. In 2013, I started a tradition where I would post on social media wishing all the lovely ladies a Happy Valentines Day and then go into more detail about who I was and was not talking about when I said “lovely lady.”
Between 2013 and 2017, I intended the posts to be a lovely holiday wish with some added humor to it, not anything mean-spirited aimed at anyone in particular.
Then in January of 2018, something happened that changed my traditional Valentine’s Day post.
A woman I had previously dated (let’s call her M) hit me up to come to my house and I told M to come through. After we had a couple of rounds of intimacy, she (somewhat randomly) revealed that she had a boyfriend. I was appalled. She was apathetic. That made me even more appalled.
I won’t sit here and act like I’m some perfect person who hasn’t been guilty of wrongdoing. But at that time, as I still do, I very much believed in the sanctity of a committed relationship.
I was upset that M would go out of her way to cheat on her boyfriend. I was confused why she did it and why she decided to tell me in that manner. All I knew was I had some processing to do. My processing didn’t go too well. I began to view women with much more cynicism and distrust.
As Valentine’s Day neared in 2018, I thought about how M would be receiving all these gifts and love from her boyfriend. I thought about all the other unfaithful women who would receive gifts and love and all the partners whom these women duped. It pissed me off.
So when it came time for my traditional Valentine’s Day post, all the venom I allowed to build up in my soul naturally seeped into the post.
Later that day, a young woman (let’s call her K), whom I had only met recently, reached out to me. She asked if I was okay because she recognized the uncharacteristic venom I had spewed. When I explained why I had posted that, K mentioned I wasn’t necessarily wrong, but she encouraged me not to focus on all that negativity.
“Sure, there are shitty people out there, but why exert all that energy on them? Why not just focus on the positive?”
The lesson here was much more than just forget all the negativity and only think about good things. Here are the main takeaways I would like to share with you.
Be mindful of what/who is affecting your energy, thoughts, words, and actions
I’m someone who always seeks to be positive and optimistic, but I had no idea how I had let M’s actions foster such negativity in my mindset until K had reached out to me. If not for K, who knows how much longer negativity would have ruled my mind — unbeknownst to me. She helped me be more discerning in what is affecting my energy and, subsequently, my thoughts, words, and actions. We must do our best to ensure our energy and thoughts are ruled by love and not hate. Sometimes, forgiveness is the only way we can do that. Thereby, forgiveness becomes more important to ourselves than we we offer it to.
Don’t judge people
I was so judgmental about who I thought was deserving of Valentine’s Day love. It was something I was doing even before my experience with M and even more so afterward. After studying storytelling for a few years, though, I’ve learned to be far less judgemental. Humans are all complicated, flawed beings. None of us have the right to dictate who deserves what. Again, it’s another waste of energy.
Instead, I encourage you to just focus your energy on spreading as much goodwill as possible. Who knows, maybe someone you thought was a shitty person may receive your goodwill and be inspired to make positive changes.
Always grow from experiences, but don’t let them rob you of beautiful traits
After K’s challenge, I realized I needed to be more mindful in maintaining who I am, despite other people’s shitty actions. I see myself as someone committed to spreading goodwill and love, so I can’t allow other people’s negativity to keep me from being that person.
And I sincerely hope you take this last part to heart.
While I know mostly everyone can identify horrible romantic experiences that have forced them to learn hard lessons, I hope those lessons help you grow but don’t fundamentally change you. If you’re loving, kind-hearted, hopeful, romantic, generous, or any other remarkable traits, please don’t let negative experiences rob you of yourself.
The world needs the beautiful traits your harbor, so don’t let anything keep you from putting them into the world on Valentine’s Day, or any other day.