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Be Your Own Valentine: A Self-Care Guide


by purplepeggie

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As the Month of Awakening takes Neopia by storm, filling the streets with the cloying scent of ribbon-tied Dr. Sloth Flower Bouquets and stringing frilly garlands over every available surface, the average Neopian heart finds itself in one of two camps. The “ideal” Valentine’s Day situation, according to Neopolitan Magazine and every patisserie in Neopia Central up charging for heart-shaped Faerie Eclairs, is one of alleged bliss: having a special someone to spend Valentine’s Day with. What is love if not something joyously shared with others?

     For Neopians in the second camp, however, the answer to that question is more complicated. Not everyone is fortunate to have a special someone on hand. Perhaps your dearest is not your nearest, and the closest you’ll be getting to them is a Weewoo-delivered letter that will hopefully arrive before the start of spring. Perhaps you’ve been unlucky in love this year despite your best efforts, and the googly-eyed Valentines Faellie Plushies in every storefront do nothing but rub salt in the wound. Perhaps you have little interest in love altogether, and aren’t quite sure what all the fuss is about.

     No matter what your situation is, dear reader, know this: you are worthy of love.

     So for those without a Valentine to cosy up to — or even for those who have one but want to focus on a different kind of love this year — we offer a third option. Valentine’s Day can be more than an excuse to buy that expensive Yooyus and Lace Perfume and eat an unholy amount of Chocolate Dipped Marshmallow Grundos. It can be an opportunity to celebrate yourself and everything that you’ve conquered over the past year.

     Whether you’re drawn to raucous merrymaking or restful reflection, we present to you… ten self-care strategies for being your own Valentine!

     1. Take Yourself on a Classic Valentine’s Date

     

     We’ve all rolled our eyes at the clichéd "loving yourself" advice of taking yourself to dinner and a movie. The idea of walking into a bustling restaurant on Valentine’s Day and asking for a table for one seems downright embarrassing. Will the waitstaff pity you? Will other patrons giggle?

     Newsflash, dear reader: you’re allowed to have fun in public on your own. Whether you want to grab some Grog Light at The Golden Dubloon or catch The Last of the Meepits at Movie Central, you don’t need anyone else to have an amazing time. Sure, it may feel strange at first — but then again, most first encounters are awkward and embarrassing. Finding a comfortable rhythm with a new friend often requires getting over a few bumps in the road — why wouldn’t finding a comfortable rhythm with yourself be the same?

     Grant yourself the same patience and push yourself out of your comfort zone. You may be surprised how much of the world opens up to you when you don’t feel obligated to bring someone else to justify your presence. Pick up the phone and make that reservation at Kelp — the Luxurious Vegetarian Star Pie may taste even more delicious in your own company!

     2. Try Something You’ve Never Done Before

     

     If a solo dinner and movie isn’t enough of a challenge for you, then why not try something you’ve never done before… with anyone? The drudgery of work, school, home, and sleep can break anyone down. Claw your way out of the monotony by using a Valentine’s Day coupon on a completely new activity!

     And you’re in luck: in Neopia, there’s no shortage of new things to try. If you’re a Faerieland local sick of the Wheel of Excitement and endless Poogle Races, try the Haunted Woods. If you’re a resident of Maraqua desperately trying to get some sun out of the abyssal zone, visit the Lost Desert. If you’re a dehydrated landlubber, why not swim to Maraqua? Whether your idea of a challenge is trying a new flavour of ice lolly at the Super Happy Icy Fun Snow Shop or risking your life fighting robot Chia clowns at the Carnival of Terror, there’s bound to be a Valentine’s Day deal to expand your horizons!

     3. Try Something You’ve Done a Million Times Before

     

     If you’re stretched too thin to think about adding anything else to your plate, pushing yourself to new limits might be the opposite of what you need. While the busy billboards of the Neopian Marketplace declare that progress is synonymous with novelty, we beg to differ. When life pulls you in every direction at once, it is important to make time for the cosy warmth of your tried-and-true rituals.

     Whether it’s re-reading that Gelert-eared copy of Adventures of the Cybunny Detective you’ve had since you were a kid, cooking up your grandfather’s old Meerca Bolognese recipe, or taking your usual walk through the streets of Neopia Central, there is value in familiarity. If your regular schedule makes it difficult to make time for your favourite activities, use Valentine’s Day as the perfect occasion to throw on those comfy Altador Cup Training Sweatpants and treat yourself to the Pretty Little Lennies episodes you’ve been meaning to catch up on.

     4. Treat Yourself to a Little Pampering

     

     When’s the last time you got your mane shampooed? Your ruff blow-dried? Your horns polished? That’s what we figured. While it may seem like you need a good reason to haul yourself to the Grooming Parlour — a Faerieland Employment Agency interview, your friend’s graduation, a big housewarming party — the truth is that you can pop up for a Pink Usul Nail Varnish manicure whenever you darn well feel like it!

     While burnout is often associated with mental symptoms like stress and anxiety, it can just as easily manifest in physical symptoms. If it’s been a few weeks — or months, or years, or perhaps even your whole life — since you last splurged on yourself, we encourage you to book that life-changing massage today. And for those who aren’t too keen on all of that physical contact, pampering yourself is just as easy on your own. Run yourself a JubJub Bubble Bath, press on a Peanut Butter Face Mask, hit play on that Jazzmosis record, and you’ve got a spa right in your own Neohome!

     5. Write to the People You Love (Or Yourself)

     

     Simply because you’re on your own doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for those you love. If you are far removed from your loved ones — whether it be in space, time, or opportunity — set aside some time to tell them how they’ve impacted your life. Whether it be a heartfelt letter about how much they mean to you or a silly note describing your daily goings-on, whether you send it off by Weewoo post or keep it buried in your dresser drawer forever, writing a letter can be a healing experience.

     And perhaps no letter is as healing as the one you write yourself. Journaling helps you become aware of your emotions and allows you to reflect on your experiences. What’s more self-loving than setting aside time to think about your own growth?

     If you don’t know what to write, just put down whatever’s in your head — your anxieties about inflation, the dark forces threatening to claim Neopia for their own, or the delightful Caramel Kiko Popcorn Ball you had earlier today — and then how you feel about that. You can write to your past self about how much (or how little) you’ve grown, you can write to your future self about your dreams, or you can write to the you sitting at your desk with a glass of Hot Doughnutfruit Juice. Just keep writing.

     6. Travel the World!

     

     A very wise Acara once said, "Jobs fill your pocket, but adventures fill your soul." When your daily grind becomes so stressful that your definition of self-care shifts to merely keeping yourself on four paws, consider using Valentine’s Day as a reason to whisk yourself off on a grand adventure. (Or, at least, getting out of the Broken Toy Sailboat-filled streets of Neopia Central.)

     Fortunately, in Neopia, it doesn’t take many Neopoints to have a wonderful time. Hop a few lands over and enjoy a Berry and Marrow Casserole in the bustling kingdom of Meridell, or fling yourself to the winds and explore the highest mountaintops of Shenkuu. The beauty in travel is not the photographs, or the exotic food, or the bragging rights — it is, at its core, an opportunity for transformation. Allow yourself to see life from a completely new angle, literally and metaphorically, by booking that ticket today!

     7. Unplug: Spend Some Time With Yourself

     

     Try to sit alone with yourself for ten minutes. It isn’t as easy as you think. The moment you unplug, your thoughts begin to race. Did I price that Nermkid correctly? Did I place my Food Club bets today? What time do I have to pick up the Baby Quiggles from school? Then the familiar beeps and buzzes start from the devices scattered around you. Finally, the fatal combination of anxiety, boredom, and fear reaches its boiling point, and you return to the glorious, endless void of technology. Plugged in… once again.

     It’s easy to forget who you are when you’re constantly tuned in to the thoughts of others. It’s natural to grow uneasy in silence, to feel lonely with only your own thoughts to keep you company. This suggestion may be the hardest one on the list, but it may take you the furthest. Simply turn off every device in your house and… be bored. Spend some time with yourself in the most basic way — puttering around the house, taking your Doglefox for a walk, whipping up some Tigerbuggle Fruit Pancakes. Sit in the discomfort of silence until it becomes the relief of quiet. Once you’re comfortable with yourself, you will be more comfortable with the world.

     8. Go Out and Learn Something!

     

     Just as important as introspection is turning your lens outward. A museum or art gallery date with yourself can be a truly rewarding — and relaxing — experience. Without anyone rushing you from painting to painting, or having to make compromises about which exhibits to view on a time-limited schedule, you can see exactly what you want to see. And there is so much to see!

     Aside from the peacefulness of a self-guided tour, the true value of visiting these hallowed institutions is to travel and transform within your own heart. Enriching your own life includes allowing others’ perspectives to mix with your own, and there is no better way to do that than learning about the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of Neopian history at the Roo Island National Museum of Immigration or the Neopian Museum of Altadorian History and Culture. Or perhaps your speed is spending hours getting lost amongst the glorious sculptures and paintings of the Beauty Contest and Random Contest. It doesn’t get much more self-care than strolling through the Deep Catacombs with a cup of steaming Cranberry Flavoured Borovan, perusing the poetry and art that superbly talented Neopians have wrought.

     9. Indulge Your Inner Child

     

     All of these options involve some kind of transformation. Bettering yourself, understanding your heart, expanding your horizons… but what if what you truly need is to stay exactly who you are — or, even more importantly, re-visit who you were before?

     Becoming an adult so often involves abandoning childhood pleasures. No longer can you spend hours playing Fashion Fever without being judged as a time-waster. A morning spent watching cartoons over a bowl of Hasee Puff Cereal is only for the laziest among us. You need to be hustling overtime at your job at Kacheek Telecommunications just to deserve something as frivolous as a trip to Roo Island — and Fyora forbid you to dare step on the Merry-Go-Round!

     Dear reader, I encourage you to boldly and unabashedly reject this mindset. You don’t need to "earn" the right to spend all day trying to land a spot on the Meepit Juice Break high scores board. This Valentine’s Day, take advantage of the uptick in cutesy merchandise to buy it… for yourself! Don’t settle for another pair of business-casual slacks and a Roxton Colchester Watch to allegedly "treat yourself" — buy that Bedtime Petpet Plushie and enjoy a Disco Slushie with the joy of seven-year-old you. Growing older doesn’t have to mean leaving childish things behind; growing older allows the freedom you to put away the fear of seeming childish and the very desire to seem grown-up. So let’s see those Negg Footie Pajamas!

     10. Celebrate the Real Holiday: Half-Price Sweets Day!

     

     No matter what else happens, rest assured, dear reader: the fifteenth day of the Month of Awakening is just as much a cause for celebration as the fourteenth. The day after Valentine’s Day, unofficially known to chocoholics everywhere as “Half-Price Sweets Day”, is the day that Neopia collectively washes its hands of sugary-sweet romantic love and throws up every unsold Basket of Valentine Cupcakes and Box of Chocolate Larnikins up on shelves at a steep discount*. Do with this information what you will.

     *Note to reader: the stores of Neopia may not officially follow this rule. However, the stores in real life surely will, wink wink.

     Ultimately, no matter how you choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day — whether you’re spending it being your own Valentine, enjoying the company of another, attending a Palentine’s Day with your friends, or ignoring its existence altogether — you deserve to show a little love to yourself. You’ve made it this far. Give yourself the chance to rest, because you’ve got a lot further to go. We are proud of you — Happy Valentine’s Day!

 
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