This Date in UCSF History: It’s V-Day, Not D-Day

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Originally published in Synapse on February 14, 2011.

Ah, another Valentine’s Day... and I, for one, will be spending it as a single woman — yet again. But does that mean the looming Feb. 14 will find me crying my eyes out with Ben & Jerry and watching a romantic comedy? The answer is no, and I don’t think Cupid would want that, either. In fact, I still plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day, and I’m pretty sure that a significant other is not required to do so. V-Day is certainly not D-Day, and I don’t think that single men and women should have to treat it that way.

Unfortunately, the social paradigm of today seems to dictate that a significant other is almost required to have your life “together” and functioning at its peak. People are no longer content with the great things they have around them; the American culture has instilled in us a sense of discontent, a need to never be satisfied and to always seek out a better deal that offers us more for less.

Even though I don’t believe that this is inherently wrong — sometimes, discontent is what brings us to really carve out new and wonderful opportunities and is what really makes us better as people in general — I do think that sometimes we just need to stop asking ourselves what is missing from our lives and, instead, start asking ourselves what we already have. As a young woman who is more often single than not, I, too, sometimes grapple with this change in attitude.

It’s difficult not to think about that special someone who is not in your life right now, especially when so many people around you already seem to have found someone whose company they truly enjoy. And even though the nasty, bitter single woman in me sometimes wants to boo these so-happy-together couples (envision the old hag from ‘The Princess Bride” here), I have come to realize that this kind of behavior doesn’t accomplish anything. And it certainly doesn’t capture the spirit of Valentine’s Day at all.

But what is the spirit of Valentine’s Day, really? The media would have you believe it’s about buying the single, most special person in your life some token of your affection and taking them out to a nice dinner. There are so many special people in our lives — definitely more than just one, I would think — and Valentine’s Day provides a great opportunity to celebrate friendships and family as much as a relationship with a significant other.

Obviously, the same types of celebrations may not be in order. (Being a student, I definitely can’t afford to take every great person in my life out to eat on any given day of the year — Valentine’s Day or not — and I wouldn’t quite recommend celebrating the big V-Day with lingerie around your family and posse of friends.)

But I do think some sort of celebration is in order, even if it is just taking a moment to reflect on what truly brings love to your life in the here-and-now — and getting out of the typical American habit of forgetting everything you already have in front of you and focusing on the part that’s missing or that element you wish you had in your life. Cupid doesn’t shoot arrows through people’s hearts to make them feel worse about themselves or the couples around them.

And even though V-Day does kind of sound like D-day — and involves weapons on Cupid’s end — I don’t think it was meant to be some sort of war between couples and singles or a day where singles go AWOL. A marketing holiday... maybe. (The jury’s still out on that one.)

But, nonetheless, I think Valentine’s Day is — and should be — a day to celebrate love and passion in all its forms, whether it be single or coupled. If nothing else, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to marvel at the amazing people who are already in our lives and who make them worth living every day of the year.

Having another excuse to buy yourself some chocolate isn’t so bad, either.