Ah yes, the day after Valentine’s Day. The day in which feelings are almost entirely defined by your relationship status. People in relationships feel a continuation of the attention from the day before; single people feel lonely (not as lonely as the day before) and drown the feeling with post-Valentine’s Day discounted chocolate.
Even if you want to deny it, I’m sure just about every person has to admit that it is terribly easy to become fixated on romantic relationships (or lack thereof) on and around Valentine’s Day. I’m guilty, too. The commercialization of the celebration of love sprinkled around with pink and red everywhere makes me want to feel like the heart eyes emoji for someone.
This week, I want to stress the importance of spreading love beyond the boundaries set by one day on a calendar. I don’t just mean love about your significant other; I mean love for your friends, your family, your role models, strangers, everyone.
Like I said before, it is hard to get through Valentine’s Day without thinking about a romantic relationship. I’m all for a day of appreciation (again, I’m guilty, I love being extra with gifts and cards), but it is important to take a step back and look at appreciation and love from a bird’s-eye view.
I like to look at Valentine’s Day as a day to celebrate love; a day to appreciate all the good relationships in your life (whether or not that includes a romantic one). Not only that, I like to think of Valentine’s Day as a love reboot for the whole year. Giving love and being loved are some of the best feelings in the entire world, so why would I contain that for just one day or one person?
Let’s take a step back and look at relationships. A relationship doesn’t always mean romance; it’s about interaction. The people you make time to interact with, change plans to be with, call everyday to check in with, those are all people you have a relationship with. No relationship, romantic or platonic, can thrive without love, support and nourishment. All relationships need to be fostered to grow and continue.
Personally, I find this view very helpful for being independent yet still full of love. Whether or not you are in a relationship, there are so many people to give your love to, so many people that would be so much happier by one appreciative comment that you could make. It is the fulfillment of my goal to make people happy that fuels my own happiness. When I know that I can make people feel loved, I know I must also make myself feel loved (for my biology friends, this is a great mental positive feedback loop).
It is also important to consider what social norms and standards constitute a relationship and how that makes people feel. Who can be involved to make a relationship acceptable? How can you continue a relationship that is acceptable? Love and relationships feel shallow when you start to let yourself be defined by your romantic relationship. As a woman of color from South Asian descent, I will never understand why my culture drops the boulder of “honor” on the shoulders of the daughter and allow that “honor” to simply be defined by marriage to a man. Growing up with many people who hold that mentality to be the truth made me spend so much time thinking about how I can “honor” my family and culture. I lost sight of my own goals in that. From experience, I advise you to always step above the norms that keep you from spreading love to yourself and others.
If you are charged by the loving energy from Valentine’s Day, I want you to remember all the people you love and care about. I want you to give out your thoughts and appreciation like it is free and replenishable (because it is!). I swear, it makes me feel so much better, even if I feel under the weather, because I can be sure that someone will get a little extra love. Call your mom or dad, tell them you love them. Text your siblings, tell them you miss them. Get lunch with your friends, tell them you are happy around them. Make time for the important relationships in your life and let people know you love them.
Spread the love all the time, all year, and keep smiling!
Armana Islam is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.