Valentine’s Day kind of fizzled out when I was in high school. The teachers stopped handing out candy, and unless you had a significant other, the only thing you cared about was your chemistry exam that day. With the occasional joke about being single and forever alone, Valentine’s Day had disappeared as a fun, childhood holiday, expected to make a revival when I got a boyfriend who’d forget to buy flowers.
I expected college to be the same, especially a college like Wesleyan where today’s hookup mentality has been fully embraced. I figured it’d be a nonissue.
The hype started on the first day of the semester, when my social psychology professor changed up the syllabus so we’d study interpersonal attraction on this most special of days. I thought that was cute, not realizing how exhausting it would be by the time Valentine’s Day actually rolled around.
A few days ago, the fliers and notices started going out about all the different Valentine’s Day fundraisers and events on campus: a cappella serenades, candy grams, and four-course meals at Usdan. But Wesleyan doesn’t only cater to couples—there’s also a “Fuck Valentines Day” singles Slowdance performance (which I can’t help but wish was actually a bunch of people waltzing without partners).
On top of this, it seems like half of the things I heard and overheard over the past few days were Valentine’s Day-related, mostly singles lamenting their relationship statuses and planning to indulge in a booze-and-ice-cream combo. This is probably what I found the most surprising, given most people’s noncommittal attitude around here.
I’m not one to hate on Valentine’s Day, but I just found myself overwhelmed by the unexpected energy surrounding the occasion. Maybe people are just excited about an opportunity to celebrate love and/or complain about their lack of it. It’s no secret that Wesleyan students love to be heard (obviously myself included) and this absurdly commercial and fluffy holiday is the perfect outlet to wear all red and share your feelings with the world. Maybe everyone’s just doing it ironically—playing along, then scoffing and taking pride in the wonderful charade they’ve pulled. Maybe it’s all in my head and I was just primed to expect buzz because of my fascinating lecture this morning on why people are attracted to each other and why women are better dancers when they’re ovulating.
Whether it’s genuine, sarcastic, or all a figment of my imagination, happy Valentine’s Day, Wesleyan! Also, thanks for showing me that it is normal for people to get annual Valentines from their moms. For the first time, she didn’t send the usual stuffed animal and chocolate—probably for fear of embarrassing me—and now I just feel left out.