La nausee: Valentine’s day and existential malaise

Great, you’re thinking. Another bitter Valentine’s day post. Perhaps this will reassure you: I don’t hate Valentine’s day. I think it’s adorable. I like hearing about grand gestures that guys put thought and effort into to show a girl how much they appreciate having her in their lives. I love receiving flowers, jewelry, lingerie, chocolate…all the traditional gifts associated with this celebration. Even better if there’s an element of surprise. I love handmade cards, creative gifts like a playlist, a video or a selection of annotated photos. I like romance. I’m one of those people who doesn’t think it’s a big deal that V day is commercial. Yes, businesses can expect a huge profit. But so what? Don’t they make a profit when you go shopping for make-up, clothes or motorcycle any other time of the year? And if you didn’t buy your girlfriend/boyfriend a gift at this time of the year, wouldn’t it be on another day? I just don’t see what the problem is. You don’t even have to spend money to celebrate it – just cook something nice for dinner, be creative and tell the person how much he/she means to you.

But I am a little resentful sometimes. I’ve never had a boyfriend on Valentine’s day and it’s always made me a little envious when I see happy couples at restaurants or girls walking home with large bouquets of flowers or cards or heart-shaped chocolate boxes. It’s not that I haven’t received romantic gifts in the past, but it’s usually not been on Valentine’s day. This year, I was feeling more resentful than I would have liked, because these last few weeks, I have made an effort to be more open to people, more generous with my time and affection and illogically, I expected a pay-off. Like I said, the changes are recent, and it’s unreasonable to expect an immediate pay-off…but feelings are irrational and I don’t have to be pretend they don’t exist on this blog. I didn’t even celebrate it with friends and this made me feel pretty lonely, especially since I thought I had some good single friends and have shown them how much I care recently.

And here is the lesson in all this: Dedication is staying committed to a change because you believe in it so strongly even when there is no immediate benefit. Like others, I’ve been caught up in the culture of instant gratification. It’s easy to give up on something if you don’t immediately see what’s in it for you and if the results take a long time to materialize. But I reminded myself that I am making these changes because of principles I believe in: I’m changing my diet and exercise routine not just to be able to fit into a smaller size dress, but because I think a fit body is tied to mental well-being and self-confidence. I’m being kinder to strangers and performing random acts of kindness, not so that everyone thinks I’m a fantastic person and to be popular, but because I think we could all do with more kindness and connection in our lives. I’m working hard, not only to be perceived as a serious academic, but because I think it’s intrinsically valuable to think about the topics I’m studying. It’s true that I do want some of the superficial benefits – the amazing body, the larger circle of friends, the glamorous reputation – but I think that sticking to change in depressing moments like the one I had yesterday is what shows my investment runs a lot deeper.

I felt so depressed, cried and felt sorry for myself last night. I stayed up too late, not really doing anything, and woke up late today. I felt so sick when I woke up. My head was aching, so much so that it felt like the pain was coming from behind one of my eyes. I felt so nauseated that I curled up in my bed. When I finally got up, I threw up and didn’t feel better until I’d had something to eat and drink. Once in a while – every few months – I’ll experience this terrible nausea and pain, that really has no explanation. It’s like being hung over from thinking too much. My dad explained to me that migraines are often the onset of a period of “release” after stress. They can sap your energy and make you feel like curling up forever. The last 24 hours have been strange, but I’m feeling better and will probably be back to normal after working out today.


2 thoughts on “La nausee: Valentine’s day and existential malaise

  1. Your honesty is amazing. I am so intrigued to see that some of the physical ailings I often feel after having a long and emotional bout with stress and anxiety is something that someone else that i have never met is just as familiar.

    • Thank you for sharing that. I suspect more people experience this than we know, because people don’t like to admit to these types of feelings.

      I love reading blogs where people show some vulnerability, so I try to do the same occasionally.

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