By Serena Lin
Writer’s note: the writer suggests listening to “That’s How You Know” from Disney’s Enchanted while reading. We need a fairy tale soundtrack, of course, to match the holiday!
You hear a knock. You jump off your bed, wondering, who could it be? To your surprise, as you open the door, there stands the cute guy or girl you’ve kinda been talking to in your classes with a box of chocolates and your favorite movie in hand. Wait, let’s rewind, maybe it’s more like a dozen red roses and a reservation at a fancy steakhouse. Or perhaps a date to go paddleboarding in Lake Lag?
All of these sound fine and dandy, and very much like what many people envision what most couples will probably end up doing. However, despite these romantic images, I have had my qualms about Valentine’s Day for several years now. Before you think I am just a bitter single person, let me just share that I have been in a relationship for the past couple of Valentine’s Days.
Let me just take a moment to say that most single people I know do not complain about Valentine’s Day beyond snide remarks. It’s often just offhand comments, but for the most part, the day, especially since it’s a Tuesday this year, is just like any other day. Plus, it’s a great reason to get together with friends and eat tons of chocolate! (I still try to make plans with my gal pals even when I’m in a relationship, because that’s honestly half the fun of the festivities).
All of this has contributed to my continued confusion with the purpose of Valentine’s Day. People paint it as a day to celebrate romance and love. And yet, couples seem to have ample time to celebrate how in love they are, often to the disdain of those around them when too many cheesy pictures get posted. Not only that, but many people in relationships often feel pressure and tensions about celebrating. For the most part, people either pour hours into a gift and hope their partner will love it or build up their own expectations. Rarely does everyone’s expectations get met both in their partner’s reaction to his or her gift as well as receiving one’s gift. There is additional pressure because every other couple celebrates as well, resulting in a #relationshipgoals contest. Conversely, you might be thinking, I’m not that shallow, I just want to spend time with my significant other without the stress. That’s totally cool too, but honestly, having a chill hangout can happen anytime, and it doesn’t require a national holiday.
In fact, the only people that benefit from this holiday (other than those in the consumer industry) involve those who use Valentine’s Day as a platform to ask someone out. I often wonder how often this actually happens. However, this day is not necessarily conducive to successfully gaining a date, with all of the elaborate associations of the holiday. Plus, it’s significantly harder to book reservations to your favorite restaurant.
As Valentine’s Day rolls by, have a positive attitude towards it! If you’re in a relationship, make it clear what the expectations are so that neither party will feel overwhelmed or disappointed. And honestly, single people, you probably end up being a lot happier on this day because of the significantly less pressure. In the end, Valentine’s Day doesn’t bear much meaning or purpose to me, but I’m grateful for the cookie grams in the dining halls that I can spam to all my friends. Honestly, can we just flash back to elementary school with pre-packaged valentines and parties with heart-shaped cookies?
Contact Serena Lin at serenal ‘at’ stanford.edu.