Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, that blissful holiday of fragrant bouquets, delectable chocolates and candlelit dinners. It’s a day to celebrate love, and though romance seems to receive the most emphasis, we should also make sure to show our friends and family a little extra love on Feb. 14.
Love is a beautiful thing. It allows us to connect with other human beings, become the best versions of ourselves and experience the joy that comes from knowing someone loves you back. Unfortunately, I think our culture has somewhat corrupted this incredible idea of love, twisting it into something selfish and conditional rather than something compassionate and freely given.
It often seems that people view love as a kind of scoreboard on which the score must always be perfectly tied. If the points aren’t balanced – if someone isn’t living up to another person’s expectations, if someone keeps making mistakes, if someone tends to take more than they give – that love is seen as less valid or even unworthy of further pursuit. This seems to be the case in everything from romantic relationships to friendships.
It’s natural to want to get out of a relationship what you put into it, and I am in no way defending toxic behavior that can dishearteningly occur under the guise of love. However, I take issue with the idea that love needs to exist in perfect equilibrium all the time. This way of thinking is dangerous because it can lead to unrealistic expectations and inevitable frustration. People may end up giving up on those who mean the most to them, simply because the score wasn’t tied and they were unwilling to settle for less than a swoon-worthy romance or idealized friendship.
If you’ve inhabited this planet for any amount of time, you’ve probably noticed that humans are far from perfect. We can be selfish, judgmental and outright hateful. If we loved others solely based on whether or not they deserved it, then frankly, none of us would be giving or receiving any. However, what makes love so incredible, when expressed as it should be, is that it does not take any of this brokenness into consideration. Love, in its purest form, brings people together despite their differences, shortcomings and mistakes. It takes the impossible standards we set with our scoreboards and reminds us that they don’t matter as much as people do.
Despite what Hollywood and Hallmark will tell you, love is not always sweet nothings and tender embraces. Sometimes it is screaming and crying, frustration and anger, even doubting whether love is worth it in the first place. I’m here to tell you that it is, because the beauty of love lies in its imperfection. There’s something remarkable about love’s power to make a perfect whole out of broken pieces, and I think that’s what we should truly be embracing this Valentine’s Day. Not this idealized version of love that harms more than it helps – instead, a love that may be a little flawed, but genuine nonetheless.
Love is not a scoreboard. Love is not perfect, nor is it easy. But when done right, love sure is a beautiful thing. I hope that all your relationships, whether romantic or platonic, reflect that – on Valentine’s Day and every day.
Emma Chrusciel is a senior at Geneva High School. In addition to writing, she loves Broadway musicals, playing piano and spending time with her family and friends. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.