An Alternate Perspective on Valentine’s Day


You’d think that sitting in a classroom on a Monday morning in the middle of January, you’d be safe from any discourse surrounding the coveted and contested holiday of February 14th. But you’d be wrong. 

Spurred by the beginning of the Enloe Choral Department’s sale of singing valentines, half the class erupted into a spirited conversation on how to approach the precarious holiday of Valentine’s Day. Although it wasn’t really much of a debate. Minus a solitary neutral and a well-meaning outlier, the consensus was overwhelmingly clear. To the group, it seemed the candy-coated day of romance was simply an over-exuberant, capitalist scheme tailored to the woes of happy people in relationships. To them, it ought to be mocked and satirized for all it’s worth, lest the great many single people of the world be forgotten on this day of love. 

It’s not as if I precisely blame them. After all, according to a 2022 poll, only 30% of Americans actually think Valentine’s Day is a real holiday worth celebrating. Usually, I tend to agree with them, reflecting not only on my own ghosts-of-valentines-past but the friends and family members I’ve watched stress over the social and romantic expectations associated with the holiday. Yes, I voluntarily ignore the happy memories of cards and candy, shared stuffed animals, and awkward gestures. I often side with the sarcastic singles cranking out satire and incessantly bringing up the holiday’s considerably grisly past. It’s just never been something I thought or cared all that much about.

Then our optimistic outlier said something, a simple suggestion: Valentine’s Day is about love, and people should be allowed to celebrate their love any way they want. If that meant giant teddy bears and choral serenades, so be it. If it meant expensive dinners and sappy PDA, so be that too. After all, love only gets one day. We get the rest of the year.

I was caught off guard, dumbstruck into the most horrible of places for emotionally insecure people- self-reflection. I began to spiral, and wonder- why exactly do I hate Valentine’s Day? Do I even hate it all? 

I can’t and won’t speak for all people who truly hate Valentine’s Day. Everyone has their own reasons for their feelings and those reasons are so highly personal and specific that I can not begin to generalize them. But when actually going beyond blind angst and dislike and looking back at my own real experience, I seemed to be less ‘angry’ at Valentine’s Day, and more caught up in the memories it unearthed. These memories are encompassing and versatile: memories of past relationships, feelings, and rejection. And these memories, compounded with the thought of the future and the longing for all that others have, combine on this day into one universal betting-on-dandelions sort of feeling. 

Maybe- that’s betting on dandelions. It’s perceivably insignificant, so common it’s easily overlooked, and for crying out loud, it blows away in the wind. But it’s there nonetheless, for people who know where to look and people who go looking. 

Valentine’s Day, for better or worse, is a representation of ‘maybe’. It’s a day in which we are reminded and encouraged to go the extra mile, shoot our shots- to metaphorically and literally bet on the dandelions, all in the name of love. And not just romantic love, any kind of love. Taking a shot and showing you care is not exclusive to romance. We can celebrate friends, family, and even ourselves, and take the same chances by letting ourselves be vulnerable enough to express our feelings.

Yes, it’s perilous. Yes, there are risks, risks that hit so close to our hearts they may feel impossible to take. Believe me, I know. I’ve sent enough yes-no-maybe notes, typed enough notes-app texts, and made enough late-night calls to know that putting yourself out there can feel dangerous, like something worth despising and avoiding. But in the words of the wizened outlier, it’s only one day, 24 hours to act on what could be. We have the rest of the year to wonder. 

So this Valentine’s Day, whether you find yourself alone, with friends, or with a significant other, I encourage you to take a chance. Shoot your shot. Go for the unlikely, invest in the ‘perhaps’. Make a wish, and bet on the dandelions. Maybe ‘maybe’ isn’t perfect, but maybe neither are we. Maybe ‘maybe’ is all we’ve got. And maybe that’s the whole point.