That dreadful day of flowers, chocolates, and every single table at your favorite restaurant reserved by adoring couples eager to put their mushy little love stories on display. Valentine’s Day is widely considered the day for couples to parade about in red fancy dress with doofy smiles on their faces while singles mope bitterly into wine glasses in front of their TVs.
But don’t let the Kay Jewelers commercials and Lifetime movie specials get you down. While all the significant others of the world bustle about the city harassing florists and worrying over date night wardrobes and chocolate hearts, you are free to lounge in sweatpants and read your favorite books if you want, or, hell, go bungee jumping, whatever you darn well please!
When you consider how much trouble and dressing up all those cooing couples go through on the 14th, being single doesn’t seem so bad. But even after all the fuss of Valentine’s Day, being single is actually pretty darn awesome, what with all that freedom and independence. In fact, according to some of the most brilliant minds of literature, being on your own can be downright preferable. So, defy all those bitter singles stereotypes this Valentine’s Day. Instead, grab a book and bask in the freedom of singledom just like your favorite badass authors would.
1. “I will be calm; I will be mistress of myself.”
— Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility
So maybe you’ve recently been jilted, or maybe you did the jilting. Either way, no need to cry while Facebook stalking your ex on Valentine’s Day. Take a cue from Elinor Dashwood and chill. Maybe even take her little more literally and take YOURSELF on a date.
2. “I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.”
— Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre is practically the patron saint of solitude. Sure, her story is remembered as one of the most romantic of all time, but something tells me she would’ve been perfectly happy without a Mr. Rochester.
3. “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”
— Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
Also a great line for every time some fool calls you a “chick.”
4. “The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.”
― Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Essays
If it could fit, it’s would be a great line to put on those candy hearts, instead of all that “Yours,” “I Need You,” “Be Mine” nonsense you see all over Valentine’s paraphernalia.
5. “My self is all to me. I don't have any need of you.”
― Joyce Carol Oates, I Lock My Door Upon Myself
Can’t you just picture Joyce Carol Oates hugging herself happily and greedily declaring “Mine, all mine!” Gollum style? Except, you know, more empowered. Now that’s love..
6. “If I follow the inclination of my nature, it is this: beggar-woman and single, far rather than queen and married.”
― Elizabeth I Tudor, Elizabeth I: Collected Works
Queen Elizabeth I was expected to marry and produce an heir when she ascended to the throne. Instead, she gave the finger to tradition and reigned popularly and unmarried for 44 years (pretty darn long when everyone’s getting beheaded left and right). Is there any better advocate for singledom?
7. “If [God] send me no husband, for the which blessing I am at him upon my knees every morning and evening ...”
― William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing
Benedick and Beatrice both eschew the charms of the paired life, and they do it with a great deal of wit. Beatrice is all the more awesome for her unabashed resistance since women were pretty much expected to do little else than marry in Shakespeare’s time. Sure, she ended up marrying anyway, but Benedick and Beatrice or so similar they pretty much just married themselves. And clearly that whole marriage thing was just a sham to please the crowd anyway.
8. “As long as she thinks of a man, nobody objects to a woman thinking.”
― Virginia Woolf, Orlando
Or woman for that matter, so long as it’s romance, right? Well, no. Despite the cliches and stereotypes, some of us will not be weeping into a carton of cookie dough ice cream this Valentine's Day. We just might *gasp* dare to think about something else, you know, like brilliant feminist women authors.
9. “Never marry at all, Dorian. Men marry because they are tired, women, because they are curious: both are disappointed.”
― Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
True or not, Wilde says it well, and you can totally borrow his witty words when your nosy family members and friends call and pester you with questions about your love life on Valentine's Day.
10. “Whosoever is delighted in solitude, is either a wild beast or a god.”
― Francis Bacon, “On Friendship”
Honestly, I’m good with either. Technically Bacon was paraphrasing Aristotle who said, “but he that is incapable of society, or so complete in himself as not to want it, makes no part of a city, as a beast or a god,” but Bacon’s paraphrase sounds better.
11. “For those who know the value of and exquisite taste of solitary freedom (for one is only free when alone), the act of leaving is the bravest and most beautiful of all.”
― Isabelle Eberhardt, The Nomad: The Diaries of Isabelle Eberhardt
In case you don’t know just how badass Isabelle Eberhardt is, she was an explorer and writer in the early 20th century who dressed as a man from a young age to have more freedom, moved to Paris to be a writer, advocated for the decolonisation of Africa, then survived an assassination attempt by the French after she was accused of being a spy in Algeria. And she did all that before she died in a natural disaster at age 27. Yep, she was epic. I’d take her advice.
12. “Solitude is the best nurse of wisdom.”
— Laurence Sterne, Letters. No. 82
So, while everyone else is out forcing conversation with last-minute dates, you’ll be making time with Socrates and Co.
13. “I did not want anyone with me. Not even Maxim. If Maxim had been there I should not be lying as I was now, chewing a piece of grass, my eyes shut. I should have been watching him, watching his eyes, his expression. Wondering if he liked it, if he was bored. Wondering what he was thinking. Now I could relax, none of these things mattered. Maxim was in London. How lovely it was to be alone again.”
― Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca
You know what she’s talking about. That time you watched your favorite movie with the sig. o and it was all… Does s/he like it? Did s/he catch that reference? S/he totally hates it, doesn't s/he?, instead of just watching and adoring it as you always have.
14. “I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.”
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Thoreau away OKCupid account and bask in the glory of alone.
Image: Azrul Aziz/Unsplash