Foulk: No excuses for Valentine’s Day criticisms

Kayla Foulk

On Wednesday many people will breathe a sigh of relief knowing their least favorite holiday has passed. Valentine’s Day haters will no longer have to endure the celebration of a “fake holiday.”

They won’t have to walk down store aisles drowning in red and pink. Chocolate roses, candy hearts and miniature teddy bears will go half-price, and they won’t return to the shelves until next year.

For a holiday associated with love and affection, Valentine’s Day has no shortage of critics.

It may be commercialized, overdone and potentially cheesy, but so are holidays like Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day, and they don’t have such a negative reputation.

I’ve heard a multitude of reasons for not liking Valentine’s Day, but the one that dominates is the opinion that the holiday is nothing more than an in-your-face reminder of loneliness.

Whether or not we share these sentiments about Valentine’s Day, we can all relate to the disappointment that comes from seeing other people with something we want but do not have.

It’s understandable to feel disappointment, but it’s all too easy to linger on the discrepancy between what others have and what we have – and to become a victim of joy-killing comparison.

The problem with comparison is that it breeds discontentment. If we’re constantly measuring the quality of our lives by the standard of others’ lives, we will always find reasons to be disappointed. We’ll never be able to completely avoid exposure to circumstances that seem more favorable than our own.

So today, instead of dwelling on Valentine’s Day blues, our best option is to focus our energy on something we can control: our own lives. In the face of relational discontentment, here are some alternatives to falling prey to comparison:

1. Nourish the friendships you already have.

Pining for a relationship you don’t have can make you feel dissatisfied with the ones you do have.

Fight the tendency to neglect them because relational satisfaction comes from growing closer to another person. Take time to care about a friend’s life. It’ll give you a chance to grow closer to him and will take your focus off your own frustrations.

2. Invest in the people around you.

It’s easy to forget the potential for rich relationships with the people you take for granted.

Take the opportunity to cultivate friendships with coworkers, peers, people in your dorm, or classmates.

My roommate and I have realized that too often the only time we spend with each other is when we’re silently working on homework or sleeping.

Making an effort to spend time with each other, though it may be as simple as watching a rerun of “Grey’s Anatomy,” has strengthened our relationship and reminded me of how thankful I am to have her in my life.

3. Do something about being single!

If dwelling on the blessing you have leaves you still dissatisfied with your relational life, then take action. You’ll never know if a relationship will work out unless you pursue it.

Sure, you’ll risk failure in pursuit of a relationship, but you’ll forfeit the possibility of its success if you’re paralyzed by fear of failure.

I know someone who was interested in a romantic relationship with a good friend of his, and upon his initial pursuit, she adamantly rejected him. Over the next year, her heart changed, and now they are happily married.

Though his proactive pursuit resulted in pain at first, it later resulted in a relationship he would not have if fear had kept him from taking action.

Kayla Foulk is a Weinberg sophomore. She can be reached at [email protected]

All opinions expressed in this column are solely the opinions of the columnist and do not reflect the views of The Daily Northwestern. If you would like to respond to the column, you may comment below, email the columnist or submit a 300-word letter to the editor to [email protected]