Most of my single friends think Valentine’s Day is a joke. A shallow holiday exploited by corporations to convince us that love conveniently means buying the products they make.
Meanwhile, my friends in relationships think Valentine’s Day is just stressful. “What do I get?”; “Where should we go to eat?”; “Should I make something versus buy something?”; “Oh no the restaurant I think they would like is completely booked” and “Are flowers and chocolates too cliche?”
Where did we go wrong as a society? A day meant to celebrate love has become one full of personal misery and shallow consumerism. Not to mention, it’s become unavoidable. This time of year, every store and commercial is talking about how to make this Valentine’s Day special for the person you love.
I can see why my single friends are so pessimistic about love; the endless barrage of meaningless pink and red hearts everywhere is exhausting and reinforces the idea that love is a transaction between two people. But it’s really not. Love is one of the most powerful human emotions there is, and it deserves to be reclaimed.
I understand that sentiment can feel empty, but forgive me for being a hopeless romantic. Growing up, I watched Bollywood movies that showed love as the greatest force in the world. The Bollywood movies of the late 1990s and early 2000s taught me that love between people is a connection so powerful that can dissolve all other divisions. I grew up to stories of people falling in love in spite of class, race, religious and cultural differences and using their love for different people to dismantle systems that divide us. Is it a surprise I see so much power in love?
I have been fortunate to be in a loving relationship with my partner for over three years now. It’s the first serious, adult relationship I’ve ever been in. It’s one that has molded and shaped me over the years, one that has taught me an incalculable amount about myself. It’s helped to give me a more powerful, all-encompassing understanding of love, for her and for others.
That understanding of love inspires everything I do, from my passion for my work, my passion for my ideals, to my love for my friends and family, to my love for myself in my own skin. Love gives us the strength to approach each and every day with a renewed vigor for ourselves and for humanity. It’s spirit can be attacked by a relentless consumerism trying to make it devoid of any meaning or context, but love pushes on. People can try to tell us who and what we can love, but their efforts are futile. Love only knows humanity in their infinite capacity for love.
Valentine’s Day may be over now, and maybe that’s a relief for some of you. But remember, love isn’t a static moment, a singular gift or a night out. Love is perhaps the strongest social experience humans face. Let’s start treating love like what it is: crazy, empowering, mind-boggling, terrifying, energizing.
But most importantly, revolutionary.
Viral Mistry is a fourth-year biology and cognitive science double major who is also minoring in chemistry, history, and philosophy. He wears many figurative hats around campus, but if you ever see him, you can guarantee he’d rather be in bed reading a good book.