Stop hating Valentine’s Day

By Katie McKenna

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Whether you are celebrating with that “special someone” (whatever that actually means), throwing your annual anti-Valentine’s Day party or sitting in front of your TV eating chocolates, Valentine’s Day is an undeniably apparent holiday that appears, again and again, every year on that usual Feb. 14. We’re forced to address it because it’s there on our calendars, in the candy aisle and on TV. But what if we don’t know how to address the holiday?

What are you even supposed to do on Valentine’s Day? Go to dinner with your “special someone”? And if you don’t have one, you’re inclined to feel a bit awkward and uncomfortable, which makes you angry at every happy, special-someone-dinner-having-couple out there, because you aren’t them and that isn’t fair.

The problem is the expectation for it to be fair in the first place. But in my experience, romance, if anything, is not fair. “All’s fair in love and war”? Sorry, Francis Edward Smedley, but I don’t think so. But is this unfairness any cause to be angry? Many say yes, but I don’t.

If you choose to hate Valentine’s Day you’re only submitting yourself to the idea that without a significant other, you are, well, insignificant. Could anything be further from the truth?

Here are the things I like about Valentine’s Day: celebrating love! What could be better? Here are the things I don’t like about Valentine’s Day: all of the preconceived notions that come with it, all of the things we think we are “supposed” to do and if we don’t do these things, then we simply must not be loved, and are therefore not all that worthwhile.

I’m not sure we’re doing ourselves any good by measuring our successes by whether or not we have a “special someone.” Instead, I think we should be measuring our successes by the quality of the relationships with the people we do have in our lives.

I can guarantee that half the women out there who claim they have the world’s most perfect boyfriend don’t have parents as wonderful as mine. Or maybe that “special someone” can only think to buy the generic roses, box of chocolates, while my best friend gave me Girl Scout cookies for my birthday because that’s how we met as little kids. Or perhaps you actually want the cliché gifts because you find tradition to have its own set of charms, and someone knows that, so they get you all the cliché gifts you could ever ask for. Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be about having someone. It should be about knowing someone.

There is no reason to be angry on Valentine’s Day if you have even one person in this world who loves the true and genuine you, romantically or not.  A small flirtation, though charming, can be fleeting, but to have someone who really cares about you is real and permanent.

So don’t let the Kay Jewelers commercial bring you down! Love isn’t marketable: love is big, and everyone loves a little differently because we are all our own.

Bob Dylan had to know this when he wrote, “People carry roses, make promises by the hours, my love, she laughs like the flowers, valentines can’t buy her.” An anthem that addresses his love for one girl, rather than to love as a definite, flat, black-or-white, singular emotion.

Feb. 14: the whole day really just sets up a lot of unrealistic expectations, and I have to say that I don’t like expectations. I’m of the belief that life, and love, are only authentic when they’re better than what we could ever possibly imagine.

Getting away from our expectations is the best thing that can happen, not the worst, as many people tend to believe. I always liked the way Holden Caulfield agreed with me on that: “What I mean is, lots of times you don’t know what interests you the most until you start talking about something that doesn’t interest you the most.”

Love isn’t fair, it isn’t always easy and it doesn’t really travel in a predictable or map-able direction. Don’t let your Valentine’s Day become filtered, edited, unoriginal or forced. Celebrate the love you’ve come to know well, break your expectations and laugh like the flowers.

Katie McKenna is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]