Abigail McCarter, Columnist
When I was in middle school, I looked forward to Valentine’s Day all year. It was the only day that I could send chocolate or write mushy love notes to my crush and still escape judgment.
I continued to enjoy the sappiness of the holiday well into my later years when I met my boyfriend. I gave into it. I loved it all: the romantic gestures of flowers, chocolates and anything with red or pink hearts.
This all changed, however.
After dating my boyfriend for about three years, I started to ask myself why I liked all of those things. I began to realize that it was not because I actually enjoyed the things themselves, but because businesses did their jobs exceedingly well.
Commercials showed me that a bouquet of red roses made people smile and that receiving anything less was simply unacceptable or that the giver was cheap.
Everywhere I looked, something told me I was supposed to buy chocolate and cards with hearts and that my boyfriend was supposed to do the same if he “truly loved me.”
I realized that people around me bought into the gimmick too.
Social media became a bragging forum and free advertisement for businesses. This Valentine’s Day, I guarantee that your Instagram feed was filled with photos of flowers, chocolates and stuffed bears, all saying things like “My boyfriend is the best!” or “#blessed.”
I am guilty of participating in this myself, but I have found ways to celebrate the holiday my way instead of buying into the mass commercialization.
I personally like to make the holiday into an opportunity to show my love for my significant other in atypical ways.
For example, one of my boyfriend’s love languages is quality time. This means that sitting next to him while he studies would make him happier than a poem from Hallmark that would cost me five bucks.
On the flip side, one of my love languages is acts of service, meaning that I would much rather be helped with homework than be given a talking pink teddy bear.
Let me say this: If you like Valentine’s Day for all the classic reasons, that’s fine. Just know its original purpose of invention.
Also know that celebrating love is nothing to be ashamed of. Celebrating love is a wonderful thing, but it doesn’t require flowers or chocolates or stuffed toys.
So this Valentine’s Day, celebrate love however you want to. Whether that means by yourself, with a significant other or even with friends, it’s up to you.
Love comes in all shapes and forms. It doesn’t have to have light-up hearts and it doesn’t have to be like the commercials. Celebrate your unique love in a unique way.
McCarter is a freshman journalism and mass communication major.