Ah, romance. The Valentine’s Day spree can make “Singles Awareness Day” quite blue if you’re alone, whether by choice or circumstance. However, we introduce Vanessa in our special Sauder in Love feature who shows us some perspective of empowerment.

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1. What are your thoughts on Valentine’s Day?

You know what, as much as I may jokingly whine about Valentine’s Day approaching and being single, at the end of the day, it’s a beautiful holiday to show your affection to someone else and to remind that one special person that they matter.

But at the same time, I realize that both women and men should not tie their worth to this one holiday. Just because you’re single, does not mean you are less than everyone else. It does not mean you’re unworthy or that you’ve failed to find a partner. No one should ever tie their worth to the eyes of the opposite (or same) sex and the status of whether you’re “single” or “in a relationship”.

Many of us Sauder students are amongst the most privileged in this world – we not only have the basic human necessities (food, water, shelter), but we also have an enormous network of people that care about us and support us (family, friends, peers). As much as Valentines Day may make you feel ‘alone’ or ‘unloved’, we should realize that we have all the love in this world. Compared to most people, I would even say that we have more than enough love than any person should have.

Last year, I came across a quote that really spoke to me: “You don’t have a valentine on Valentine’s Day? Some people don’t have a mother on Mother’s Day, or a father on Father’s day.“

To me, that really hit home. It made me realize that I have discredited so many people in life, and it made me realize that whether you’re in a relationship or not, you have to remember that this status does not define the amount of love that you have.

So to answer your question, Valentine’s Day is a beautiful holiday. It’s a day about celebrating love and how we should be grateful that we have so much love surrounding us–in all different types of places.

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2. What’s the best part about being single?

I think the best part of being single is the ability to really get to know yourself better – what you like, what you don’t like. Most importantly, by being single and spending so much time getting to know yourself better, you start to realize your worth and what you deserve.

When you come to terms about being single, accept it, and become happy with it, you can finally find your true self and your true independence. It comes to a point where you’ll wear what you want because YOU like it, and you’ll do the things you want to do because YOU want to.

It’s called finding confidence—and that’s a great feeling.

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3. What are your views on relationships while in university?

If you find someone you’re compatible with, do it! Think about it. Our undergraduate experience is defined by only 4 short years. After we graduate, it will be even harder to find these types of relationships. Some people might think that relationships aren’t worth it in university, but they are so important. I struggle with this myself, but as I’m approaching the end of my 3rd year, I realize that it’s important to put yourself out there and meet new people.

You might be confused as to why I’m all for relationships all of a sudden, but you should know that there’s a huge distinction between finding someone you connect with, and being in a relationship because you’re sick of being single.

For so long I’ve been a victim of staying at home and complaining over being single… But then I realize that there are many good people out there– all you have to do is leave your house once in a while and meet them. You won’t find anyone just staying in one spot. Prince charming isn’t going to stalk you and find a way to break into your house.

Whether or not the relationship works out, university is a time to make mistakes and also a time to learn! I think at this age, we shouldn’t be thinking about marriage, but we also shouldn’t be thinking about hooking up with whoever we can match on Tinder.

At this age, we need to get out there and find quality connections with people. Regardless of whether you start a relationship or not, every person you meet will always teach you valuable life lessons – through happiness and through heartbreak.

University is like a huge chalkboard: It’s a time to make mistakes, go around in circles, erase everything, start over, and do it again.

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4. What is your advice to the single ladies and gents out there?

Invest in yourself and get out there. Spend time with friends and family. My biggest pet peeve is when people get into relationships and forget all the people that were there from the start, only to crawl back when they’re single again. Relationships don’t work that way. My biggest advice to the single ladies and gents is to have fun, and to remember that being single doesn’t mean you’re not loved. Invest in yourself and in your relationships; be it friends, colleagues, family, or even strangers. Expand your network! Also, set goals—BIG goals—and accomplish them! Being single is a time to do the things you want, so take this time to KNOW yourself and to LOVE yourself. Spend this time to think about the great qualities you have instead of the ones you don’t. Think about improving yourself, and for yourself only. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did!