The commercialisation of Valentine’s Day is all too much these days. Add on the fact that each V-Day has felt more like a D-Day with another Fifty Shades movie coming out (that’s dooms day, you cheeky lot) and it feels like just another day created to sell us stuff in the hopes of giving us some feels.
Those feels can be of the varying, stereotypical nature which happen to be polar opposites depending on your relationship status. Funny how that works right? Single = feeling lonely, unloved, like everyone has a partner and that the only reliable lovers in your life are two men. One called Ben and the other, Jerry. Coupled up = happy and feeling #blessed not being single like it’s the luck of the cards each year, possibly with a Pandora ring to be instagrammed (no shame) and a card with the perfect mix of cute-yet-funny saying on the front. Am I wrong?
This Valentine’s however, I’ve got a little message on love. And no, do keep reading. It’s not strictly on romantic love nor is it a peachy love-thy-neighbour kind of message. It’s a bit different, but none the less one I feel right now is ever more important.
At a time where everything in life feels disjointed and each stance we take (both digital and physical) a nervous one, it’s important to show how powerful love can be, in every sense of the word. Love for friends, family, lovers, one-night stands (the nice ones), people who make you laugh when you want to cry, your co-workers, the people you sit with in lectures, the person who says the things you always need to hear, and most importantly your dogs. Well, pets but if you have dogs I want to thank them for being such great dogs. We are blessed to have dogs.
I digress. Love is incredible and powerful, but overlooked and sometimes undervalued. Life can become busy, entangling and often confusing when the deadlines and uni weeks blur into one. We forget to phone home each week, text our mums and dads back, let our gran know how much we appreciate her or listen to our grandad’s stories. We forget to put down our phones or our laptops and hug our partners and best friends, to say ‘thank you for supporting me’ and ‘I appreciate you more than I’m showing right now, but I appreciate you and I’m sorry I’m busy’. A busy life is often a glorious one, filled with things we love to do but it can become all consuming. The consumption of living deeply and working frequently can mean we go on airplane mode to our relationships with the world. We may not mean to because why would we want that? But it does happen. It’s terrible and sad and guilt-inducing. And that’s not why I bring it up.
I say all of this because even though Valentine’s Day has become so deeply commercialised it feels like chocolate companies have a better love life than us, we can’t miss out on an opportunity to acknowledge and share appreciation. Appreciate is one of the finest and innocent forms of love. It simply says ‘you do something for me and I thank you for doing it.’ Its gratefulness and understanding the value of a person, their worth in your life and the things they bring into your world all wrapped up in a ball of thanks you can never seem to say properly. And god, doesn’t it feel good to know you’re appreciated? To know someone sees everything you do for them, out of love, and acknowledges it? To be able to say our appreciation and our gratefulness for those in our lives is what we need to do this Valentine’s day. To hell with the Bridget Jones movies for one day, the memes of being alone that litter our Facebook feeds and the #boydonegood Instagrams.
It’s all too easy to buy chocolates or a funny card but it’s difficult to communicate how we feel about those we love. I know that. But I think for this holiday we should breathe a little deeper when we see Valentine’s clichés rather than sigh (it gets to even the best of us) and call the people we love with how we feel. Show our support for our friend’s projects, shows, art, games and excitement. Shower family members with appreciation in a way that will be long lasting, long past when the chocolates will be done. And be easy on ourselves, rather than let the guilt or any manner of self-loathing hit. It’s a hard time, the second semester drags slower while the workload piles up, but we’re getting there. You aren’t messing up like you think – you’re doing more than enough.
But give your mum a text because she worries about you, okay?
By Lou Ramsay