Blog: Valentine’s Day, more than romantic love

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Blog: Valentine’s Day, more than romantic love

TPN file illustration

TPN file illustration

TPN file illustration

By Victoria Pfefferle-Gillot, Staff Writer

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A long-held belief in our society is that we need to be in relationships or get married to be happy and successful — to achieve a “happily ever after,” so to speak. We have a myriad of romantic comedies and princess films that center on romance or heavily feature love interests. There’s also the expensive extravaganza of wedding culture as proof of this infatuation with romance. For some, being in a romantic relationship brings joy, which is great, but other people who are single don’t necessarily want to go out looking for a date just to have one.

Valentine’s Day is a holiday during which people who don’t have a significant other are often left out of feeling the love. Valentine’s Day used to be sardonically referred to as “Singles Awareness Day” — before Feb. 15 was designated as the official complementary holiday to celebrate and not pity singleness. However, as one of the many single people this Valentine’s holiday season, I want to encourage not only awareness of romantic status, but also appreciation of the other kinds of loving relationships in our lives and how to celebrate them this Valentine’s weekend.  

Universal Love

There’s an important relationship that we tend to look past because it’s not necessarily attached to a person. Universal love, such as love for strangers and nature, is linked with altruism, which is the unselfish concern for others. Helping others gives us a sense of enrichment, and it not only feels good, but also builds up the community around us. Given the sense of division, the hate in our society and the seemingly hopeless state of the planet, we could give our neighbors a bit more of our attention this love-centric weekend.  

What can you do to express your love for nature and your community this weekend? For starters, you can take advantage of your free pass to Phipps Conservatory, and enjoy the plants and flowers, which are beautifully cultivated and displayed within its glass walls. Maybe also challenge yourself to perform random acts of kindness. Donate food and clothes, volunteer time at a shelter and spread the love to people who might appreciate it.

Family Love

Let’s not forget about family! Whether it’s your parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins, the people in our family are important to cherish — and so are our pets. Our family helps raise us and prepare us for college and the world beyond. Also, they graciously sacrifice their washing machines to our hefty winter break laundry loads when we go home after finals. Pets large and small give us comfort and support. They cheer you up and help relax you when you’re stressed.  

While you may not be able to go home for the weekend, a great way to appreciate your family love for Valentine’s Day is to give them a call and wish them well. Send a bouquet of flowers, even if they’re late, because receiving them is fun and reminds your family that you’re thinking of them. If you live in the area and you have enough free time to go home, consider doing it and give the people and pets in your family some quality time.

Friend Love

If you’re not terribly close with your family or if you live far away from them, you can share a platonic love with your friends that’s just as strong as love within families. Platonic love is a special kind of emotional and spiritual bond shared between two people — like your close friends — and that kind of strong connection should be cherished. Nowhere else can you find a person who is willing to stay up until 3 a.m. discussing college, existential crises and the entire Disney movie canon with you than your friend. Being able to confide and trust someone, to have a person who can be honest with you but still love you unconditionally, is something extremely valuable. Romantic partners often come and go, but your close friends will stay with you for life.

So what are some things you can do to appreciate your friends this holiday season? You can surprise your friends with candy grams sent with silly messages on them, go Downtown or to South Side or stay in and have a feel-good TV show marathon all night long. Do whatever you love to do with your friends. Even if you’re all busy and can only make time for an afternoon coffee, it’s the little things that count.    

Self-love

Yes, you too are important this holiday season! We tend to forget about ourselves, especially when we’re stressed out by classes, extracurricular activities and maintaining relationships with everyone else. Self-love helps our self-esteem and sense of worth, and it is important to give ourselves a reminder that we are valuable. Our bodies, minds and identities are the means by which we act, think and feel about the world, so why shouldn’t we appreciate them?

Here are some ideas to treat yourself this Valentine’s weekend. While it may seem like work, decluttering your space can actually lift your mood and clear your mind — plus it helps future you from having to do it later. Keeping that set of face masks and body scrubs for a rainy day? Use them to pamper yourself with a spa day. Take some time and spend the day at the University Store’s Center for Creativity and just draw, play music or do whatever helps make you feel happier.

Valentine’s Day is about love and there are so many different kinds of love, so let’s celebrate this weekend whether it’s romantic love or not.         

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