It was a cold winter night in 2021 — one of the final days of my first semester of junior year. The past few months had been entirely virtual, and for my final project for a class, I’d be presenting on the controversial topic of euthanasia through Zoom, which I’d worked on it for weeks. Hoping that others might consider attending, I sent a text to a few friends with the link, assuring them that I understood if they couldn’t make it. When I logged onto Zoom to begin my presentation, though, a smile sprung to my face.
Almost twenty of my friends, across different friend groups and social circles, had decided to come to my presentation. Viewing their faces smiling back at me through the screen, I was overcome with emotion. In a period of my life that had felt so isolated, the fact that people had chosen to spend their time viewing my presentation meant the world to me. This act of kindness on their part — in giving me their time, attention, and support — made me feel loved and appreciated beyond belief.
This experience was eye-opening for me. As we all likely know, the concept of love has been continuously commercialized and oversaturated, especially around Valentine’s Day. Everywhere we look, ads and billboards remind us of the gifts we should be giving, the dinner reservations we should make, and the lengthy words we should write in our cards. And while this is usually in good spirit… love is so much more than that. It’s more than what’s posted online for the world to see, and it’s more than grandiose gestures for public view. It’s simple words of affirmation, it’s a sweet text in the morning, and it’s reminding the people around us how much they mean to us on a daily basis. For me, one of the truest expressions of love from my friends was just them showing up for me and displaying their support for my presentation. It meant more to me than they will ever know.
This past week, I was actually out of town for Valentine’s Day. Coming home on the 16th, the first thing I did was hug every one of my friends. It was a simple expression of love, but it was a moment of bonding that I needed, and my way to show how much I’d missed them and how much they mean to me. Everyone has different love languages — whether it’s words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, or physical touch — so I’m going to make an active effort to express my appreciation for others more often, in a variety of different ways. Sometimes, people just need an “I’m so proud of you!”, a Snickers bar in their backpack, or a moment out of your day to watch their favorite TV show with them.
For me, it was my friends’ presence at my presentation that completely made my day last year. I want to continue to emulate that moment in my life. Truly, love is in the simple things. A small act a day can bring a lifetime of joy.
Happy Valentine’s Day!