Valentine's Day: Don't Hate
Cursed On Valentine's Day?
After leaving a card for my husband this morning before I left for work, I soon found myself in my classroom, hanging out and basically waiting for my first period students to arrive. As they sidled in, I noticed one young man in particular seemed particularly disconsolate. His friend offered this as a simple explanation: "He's cursed on Valentine's Day."
That makes perfect sense, right? Cursed. Not mildly gifted with some bad luck, not a victim of unfortunate circumstance, but cursed. I tried to reassure the young man that essentially, Valentine's Day was just a day like any other in hopes that he would not feel so unhappy on what was really a good day. After all, how many days are dedicated to just voicing your appreciation for each other and simply loving each other?
He was convinced, however, that the day would not go well. There was no dissuading him of what he believed to be a fact, and while I did not encounter this young man for the rest of the day, I find myself curious about how the rest of the day really did go for the young lad. I certainly hope that it was as problem free as it gets for Grade 9 kids in high school, although my experiences with that lovely demon known as self-fulfilling prophecy told me that odds were really good that the poor kid would end up shooting himself in the foot, as it were, before the day's end.
Thankfully, I haven't been notified of major catastrophes that may have occurred at the school I teach at, so I'm assuming that the young man did pull through the day relatively unscathed, but the incident got me thinking about the young lad and his perception of Valentine's Day as an absolutely disastrous sort of day.
The teen years are tough for even the most well-adjusted person to endure, and trying to navigate them with some semblance of normalcy is almost next to impossible. Between acne, the possibility of braces, and never seeming quite cool enough or worse, having no significant other on Valentine's Day, I remember just how painful those years are.
I wouldn't have characterized them as disastrous, but sometimes painful? Yes.
I did gain a few positives out of that time, however, particularly during Valentine's Day. The biggest was a renewed love of chocolate, and the second biggest a significant relationship with ice cream.
Ever Felt Like This On Valentine's Day?
"This Is A Hard Day For Me"
I also had a student tell me that Valentine's Day was particularly tough for him from an emotional standpoint. Given I didn't know him that well, I asked why, and he gave me the look. You know, that look where people are staring at you as though you're some sort of idiot who has no idea what they're talking about and they can't believe you asked a question with such an obvious answer? That one.
It made me think of the unintentional stigma associated with Valentine's Day, especially for teens. While there are those, such as myself, who might use the day to celebrate how grateful I am to have wonderful friends in my life - because you can't celebrate that enough - there is that sense that if you don't have a boyfriend or girlfriend on Valentine's Day, there's a degree of loneliness, if not a pang of "I should have a boyfriend/girlfriend" because it seems like everyone around you does. Sometimes, in the process of celebrating blessed feelings such as love, we forget that we should also express our appreciation for the uniqueness of those around us because there are times where we forget what makes us special.
I'm very grateful for the special folks in my circle of friends. I love the unique qualities that everyone brings to the table, whether it's a quirky sense of humor, or funky dance style, or whatever. I also truly appreciate the brief moments in class where my students let down their collective guard enough that they allow me a quick glimpse into their vulnerability, as these two students did on Valentine's Day without really knowing it, I think. They gifted me with their trust and an extra kernel of understanding that I wouldn't have otherwise gotten. They allowed me, just for a moment, to see a teeny bit of what made them tick, and that's not something everyone gets with even their friends beyond the surface.
I wish these two students will come to understand that Valentine's Day is not evil, or sinister, or whatever adjective implying "badness" you want to throw out. It's hard to get past the notion that Valentine's Day is about celebrating partners everywhere when you're single and around you, there's happiness and people in love and violins and rainbows.
It's so worth knowing that Valentine's Day can be about honoring your tribe, those special people in your life that bring light and understanding.
That, though, takes time, reflection, a few more Valentine's Days, and chocolate.