Opinions, Column

Extracting Whimsy from the Mundane: the Manic Pixie Dream Girl’s Guide to Valentine’s Day

If the big brown teddy bears and red heart plushies lining CVS’ aisles are any indication, the season of love is upon us. Depending on your romantic status, you are either receiving this news with excitement or dread. Or perhaps a bit of both.

Now, I would be lying if I said more people love Valentine’s Day than hate it. A holiday overwhelmingly based on highlighting romantic relationships is bound to leave single people feeling loveless. The constant talk of romantic candlelight dinners, rich and expensive chocolate, and gorgeous flower bouquets doesn’t do much to help this issue either. I have seen friends, relatives, and strangers sigh at decorative store displays, cursing the reminder of their seemingly endless lonely days.

Although I can wholeheartedly understand the anti-Valentine’s sentiment—my forever valentine is none other than my dear mother—I cannot say that I feel the same. Valentine’s Day has always been my favorite holiday. 

Every year without fail, I have eagerly awaited the sea of pinks, reds, and whites that greet me at any pharmacy or grocery store on the first day of February. In high school, I would even bring out my signature heart-antennae headband and giant heart-shaped hoops, distributing pink and red candies to everyone who would take them. I was essentially Cupid incarnate, without the mischievous matchmaking.

Although I no longer look like a salesman for Russell Stover, the holiday still has a very dear place in my heart. Yet, it was never the chocolate, flowers, or hearts that had me swooning over Valentine’s Day. I certainly never felt swept off my feet by a romantic partner either. No, I am in love with Valentine’s Day because it serves as a reminder to indulge in the romanticization of life. 

It is no secret that life can feel dull from time to time, particularly at this time of year. Yet amid the woes of seasonal depression and sub-zero temperatures, Valentine’s Day rises in the east like the rays of desperately needed sunshine. While Valentine’s Day, with all its outrageously flamboyant motifs, could certainly be seen as annoying and over the top, the holiday truly is what you make of it. It can be interpreted as an artificial holiday made exclusively for couples and agents of consumerism, or it can be an opportunity for you to feel the bliss of simple experiences, moments shared with loved ones, and memories yet to be made. 

Valentine’s Day exists to remind us that it is not weak or ditzy to dream about love and to celebrate the beauty of flowers, chocolate, and candles. It is not childish to turn your nighttime walks around campus into starlit prancing to the sound of jazz musicals. In short, Valentine’s Day promotes an indulgence in one’s childlike fantasies—something that we could all use more of, particularly as we grow older. 

So I am eagerly awaiting Valentine’s Day this year, both to spread the love among my close family and friends and to enjoy precious moments in my own solitude. I look forward to another year of being my mother’s forever valentine and handing out candy to all of my friends. More than anything, I am excited to feel enough warmth and love to banish the prevailing shadows of a cold winter and busy semester. 

So whether you love or hate Valentine’s Day, I hope you feel the magic this month. And if not, you can bet that I will be on the third floor of O’Neill Library with candy for anyone who needs a pick-me-up. I’ll be the girl with the heart-antennae headband.

February 13, 2023