With Valentine’s Day this month, a good number of my friends are pulling their hair out and suffering panic attacks in efforts to appease their loved ones. It is to them that I address these words: don’t sweat it.
It is the pressure of perfection that throws all the anti-love sad-sacks into a tizzy and has whiners saying Valentine’s Day is a stupid holiday that forces people into a nerve-wracking situation in order to perfectly demonstrate their love.
Another complaint is the ever-popular, “I don’t need a day in the year to prove myself romantically, I do that everyday.”
I really doubt that your partner expects extravagant parades, doves, diamond jewelry or whatever you think they saw on The Bachelor.
I’m not all gung-ho for the spectacle of love at this point in my life. But ever since I saw how much my classmates appreciated the badass Garfield Valentines I handpicked at Shoppers, I’ve known one thing: Valentine’s Day is not evil.
It is not about some vile little baby with an arrow reminding you how lonely you are or how inadequate your love life is. You don’t need to gulp that Haterade and ruin the festivities for everyone who is happy in their relationship. The day isn’t meant to destroy whatever relationship you have because you have been deemed unworthy by the all-powerful St. Valentine.
Valentine’s Day is about making people happy.
The day is meant to be celebrated by people who want to do something nice for someone, in any way that they desire.
Wanting to do something is the key. No one is forced or obliged to do anything for Valentine’s Day.
If you feel like your hands are tied and you have no choice but to make that certain someone happy, then maybe there is a problem between you and your certain someone. It may well extend far beyond Valentine’s Day.
With life always throwing new things at us, we often forget the good things we have. If something as small as a Valentine could make a kid happy in elementary school, I’m sure none of us need outrageously grand gestures now to know someone cares.
If you want to give your boyfriend a pack of Pokémon cards, or buy your girlfriend some chocolate you picked up at Mac’s, do it. If you want to give your friend that scarf they’ve been not-so-subtly hinting they want, or if you want to buy some friends a round of drinks, go ahead.
Think of Valentine’s as a day when you remember that the world doesn’t revolve around you and your happiness, and that there are other people who, although you might not be getting frisky with them, would enjoy a pick-me-up. Once you stop taking the entire debacle as seriously as some movies do — expecting someone to put an engagement ring in your champagne glass — you might even have some fun.
This reality check is my Valentine to you. It’s not as funny as the Garfield ones from my childhood, but it’ll do.
Illustration: Samantha Braun/The Sheaf