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I love celebrating Valentine’s Day, but not for the reasons most people do. For many, Valentine’s Day is about spending the day with their significant other, showering them in love and care. For me, it’s about expressing my love and appreciation for my friends, family, and myself. I started this tradition in high school where I would make personal Valentine’s Day cards for all of my friends, or anyone I wanted to be friends with. I’d spend hours making these cards, using a list of people I enjoyed being with and a list of things they were interested in. I’d write down any puns I could think of that were also compliments and practice drawing cute versions of animals or characters they liked. As an example, I made one friend who liked hiking and camping, a card with a drawing of a s’more with a cute face below the words “I need s’more friends like you!” I wanted to remind people, especially the ones who weren’t in romantic relationships, that someone loves them. I wanted them to know that I listen to and care about what they’re interested in and passionate about. Because you shouldn’t have to be someone’s partner to be valuable to them.
For some reason, our society holds romantic relationships above platonic ones, making them seem as if they are milestones for everyone to reach. Family members that you haven’t seen in a while always end up asking, “Have you found a boy/girlfriend yet?” Depending on your sexual orientation, hugging anyone of the opposite gender immediately leads to someone asking, “Oh, are you guys dating?” This is especially obvious around Valentine’s Day, as all the commercials and rom-coms begin to play. But if this is the holiday of love, then why doesn’t it include all types of love?
When we’re children, we go around giving cards and candy to every one of our classmates, even those we aren’t very close to. Then at some point, we’re convinced that Valentine’s Day is only meant for couples and crushes. The way there’s an emphasis on romantic relationships, is a mistake. A majority of the most important and longest-lasting relationships are platonic. And there are people who aren’t interested in dating during a certain period of their life, or at all. Which should be normal. And it should also be normal to celebrate your love for friends and family on a day about love.
Of course, I’m not the first person to think friendships should be celebrated. In the TV show Parks and Recreation, the character Leslie celebrates “Galentine’s Day,” a day dedicated to her female friends just before Valentine’s Day. And people have started to take up the holiday, making it a day to celebrate the special relationship that comes with female friendships. In 2011, the UN declared July 30 National Friendship Day. Many people in the U.S. celebrate this day by posting photos of friends on Instagram or Snapchat and typing out what they appreciate about them. There’s even a National Self Love Day on February 13 that some celebrate.
Despite this, I think it should be Valentine’s Day where we can celebrate the love of friends, family, and ourselves. The people who dislike Valentine’s Day often dislike it because of the focus on and pressure for romance. Or simply because seeing others in a romantic relationship makes them feel lonely. But this is a day about reminding people that love exists for them. That they have friends who love them, and that they should love themselves. By genuinely making it a day for love, we can stop making people feel alienated or like they’re missing out. Honestly, sometimes, it seems that only people who are in love get to experience happiness on this day. That if you can’t get or simply don’t want to have a date, you’ll never get the joy of this love-crazy day.
Platonic relationships are just as, if not more, important than romantic ones. When romantic relationships fail, it’s our friends and family that we rely on to help us through. When we’re insecure or worried about something going on in a romantic relationship, it’s our friends and family we turn to for advice. Platonic relationships are the backbone and basis of love. Family provides you roots and friendships help you grow. Self-love is the product of that growth, being able to enjoy, not only time with others, but with yourself should be prioritized. Because you have to spend every second of your life with yourself.
Valentine’s Day can and should be, a special day for everyone. To love and be loved, is a special feeling that is not always romantic. So don’t forget all of the people who are here to support you through every dip and rise you go through in life.
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