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The Real Meaning of Valentine’s Day


The thing is, I’m not very good at dealing with Valentine’s Day: I try, but perhaps I don’t perform well under pressure. I envy those who handle it with ease, taking it in their stride, while I try not to get squashed by my overwhelming feeling of inadequacy…. And the gin and tonics haven’t even begun yet.
The e-mails, however, have. I opened my inbox one morning, and saw that carnations were being delivered to special someones, or that alternatively, I could request a song which would be sung anywhere on campus. I suffered a mild anxiety attack, until I told myself to pull it together and stop being ridiculous. The epiphany came upon me while at the post office. I was placidly waiting to ship off an envelope, and was attacked by a multitude of ‘Be Mine’-like cards.  I decided that, no matter what, this year was going to be different. I couldn’t tell you why: perhaps it was the glitter.
But I came to understand that Valentine’s Day is about appreciation, not about romance. If that appreciation tends to be reflected in candle-lit dinners, and magnanimous bouquets of flowers, it does not change its original intention. It is a day to cherish and be cherished in return, whether it is with your amour, best girls, or a bottle of wine and a Game of Thrones marathon. All the day asks of us is to feel good, and to radiate that feeling to the world around us. I, as a result, bought myself thoroughly extravagant body butter; there are many methods of therapy.
However (after using said lotion, and feeling sufficiently selfishly pampered), I saw a video on 1 Billion Rising, the movement that aims to change the fact that one billion women will be abused at some point in their lives. And then I saw the whole heap of events at Brown that have been organized to support this cause. Valentine’s Day has ceased to be a solely personal day: it has also become a global, shared movement that invites us to take our places in its larger infrastructure; in its larger meaning. 
On Valentine’s Day, we harness our emotion towards the world that lies ahead: for the generations that come after us, and for us to feel justified living in such an environment. We dance for women in the past, present, and future. Through March for Marriage Equality, we make silver linings in the world that will encompass our children. So when you order your carnation, or your dedication, it is more than a passing decision: I think it is because we need to care about the times to come. We need to be reassured, we need to be motivated, and we need to act. Whether it is through a full-scale movement, or the purchase of a cupcake, the sentiment is the same: we keep close our precious things, and we work to ensure our world is a better place.
With such intentions and such feelings behind the absurd cards, and balloons, and sweet things of all kinds, who am I to have such a vigorous opposition to them? The day ceases to be about us, really. It becomes about who we love, and how we celebrate them. It becomes about causes we realize that we hold dear, and about the things we need to say. I hope you say them, for whatever it’s worth, and I hope they ring true.
I hope you find something today that gives you meaning. And I hope you cherish it above all else.
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