Today is one of the most polarizing universal holidays. Love on a normal day is equal parts bewildering, captivating and frustrating as it is; on Valentine’s Day, whatever effects it has on a person is magnified a hundredfold—single or not, happily taken or secretly, miserably so.
I must admit that when I was younger (and thus more prone to angst), I wasn’t the biggest fan of February 14th. Sure, I was a hopeless romantic—still am, but it’s also why. I felt that Valentine’s Day tends to become a vehicle for lip service and phony, seasonal gestures of love, done more out of obligation and peer pressure rather than sincere intentions.
During last year’s experience though, I realized it wasn’t so much the overcommercialized Valentine packages, the illicit competition among coupled-up friends trying to outdo each others’ gifts, or the woe-is-me posts of the single and uncommitted my newsfeed is inundated by.
Last year, I got to experience Valentine’s the way I never have before, and it has helped immensely in how I view it now. I still remember vividly how my mom and dad drove me all the way from Pampanga to Manila so I could attend a brainstorming with my co-producers at the “Etcetera” office. The meeting (and my angst-ridden reverie) was interrupted by a knock on the conference room door: a rose, a grande Green Tea frap with generous sprinkles of chocolate powder on top, and a love letter from one of my best friends, Joanne. After work, my parents and I went to dinner and I got a second rose from my dad.
Those gestures were so simple, but felt as if a switch had been flicked on within me that made me see the light after twenty-something years of self-aware existence. Valentine’s Day wasn’t as trite, overrated, banal or clichéd as I’ve used to view it, after all: it was simply that I had been looking for the fulfilment it brings, in strictly romantic terms. And as I’ve gotten to learn to my utter benefit this year, romance tends to be the kind of love quickest to fade, while friendship endures so much more.
In the beginning of last year, I felt like it wasn’t going to be my time. Everything I wished for, planned for, invested in, and forced myself to believe in was gone in a snap, and all I really hoped for then was to feel less miserable than I did. With expectations at an all-time low, I got the surprise of my life when, from that Valentine’s Day all the way up to today, all kinds of love started to pour in and turned my life around.
This year, all the clichés and tired expressions have real meaning. I see how true it is that giving feels better than receiving—I’ve been receiving so much, and it’s when I get to pay kindness forward that the feeling of gratitude comes full circle. How true it is that you can’t give what you don’t have, or teach what you don’t know. How true it is that real love is friendship: looking after a person’s well-being and happiness while having enough self-worth to know what you deserve. Now I do. :)
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone. Warm hugs from Olaf!