F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “There are all kinds of love in this world, but never the same love twice.” Although Valentine’s Day is often branded as exclusively celebrating one kind of love, Feb. 14 can also be a gentle reminder to treasure the different kinds of love we all have and give in our lives. Here are just a few kinds that can be appreciated by everyone, regardless of relationship status:
1. Friend soul mates
The term “soul mate” is often romantically tinged, but it is a role that can be filled by our cherished friends. As Thomas Moore said, a soul mate is “someone to whom we feel profoundly connected, as though the communicating and communing that take place between us is not the product of intentional efforts, but rather a divine grace.” Whether you are blessed with a sibling who knows you better than you know yourself, a roommate who completely understands (and partakes in) your weirdness, or a childhood friend with whom you inexplicably feel connected, these kindred spirits can foster our most precious and enduring relationships.
2. A group or cause that tugs on your heartstrings
Sharing your time and talents with a cause or group of people about which you are passionate is always welcomed. Spreading your kindness could be especially appreciated on Valentine’s Day when certain individuals may be feeling particularly lonely or forgotten. Wounded veterans, nursing home and women’s shelter residents and children in a hospital could likely all have their days brightened by receiving some handmade valentines. Or, you could share some love with your favorite non-profit by volunteering or giving a small donation.
This sounds like a tall order, but we can show our love and acceptance for all people in countless small but meaningful ways every day. I personally want to be better at speaking up and saying, “Hey, that’s wrong,” when someone tries to make a joke that demeans someone’s ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status or mental state. By realizing the power of our words and committing to more sensitive and respectful language, we can express love towards all kinds of people with whom we share the human experience.
4. Your mentor or role model
We all know incredible individuals who make us want to be better people: an extraordinary upperclassman that has taken you under her wing, a relative who leads by his example, the president of your favorite on-campus organization who inspires you with her dedication. These people would certainly appreciate a handwritten note or a coffee date in which we tell them how much of an impact they have had on us.
As clichéd as it sounds, Valentine’s Day is an excellent reminder to treat yourself. Remind yourself of your strengths and talents. Forgive yourself for your so-called “shortcomings” that are probably things that people truly value in you. Strive to love yourself as your loved ones do. This is all easier said than done, but self-love is a lifelong and rewarding journey, and small steps in the right direction are still significant.
While these kinds of love can be celebrated year-round, Valentine’s Day reminds us to appreciate love in its many forms and the countless loved ones who have touched our hearts.
Email Andrea Aron-Schiavone at [email protected]