[dropcap]T[/dropcap]here is no holiday quite like Valentine’s Day. With its earliest roots dating back to ancient Rome, the passing of Feb. 14 each year marks a day of romance, cards, chocolates and roses. The average person spends approximately $136 each year on Valentine’s Day, signifying its massive cultural influence in America.
While the concept of Valentine’s Day itself is simple, the experience can be different for couples of varying ages. In the modern world, teenagers in particular are especially prone to feel pressure stemming from the holiday, and this pressure doesn’t necessarily have to come from fellow peers. In fact, 65 percent of teens feel troubled and stressed on Valentine’s Day from social media alone, according to data from the networking site We Heart It.
Junior Pranav Patel believes the anxiety of being single, especially on Valentine’s Day, is usually more amplified in the teenage years because of peer pressure and the stress of hormones. To him, being single as a teen isn’t as big of an issue as some make it out to be.[quote]“We all have our reasons for why we can’t be in a relationship: parents, school work, extracurriculars, etc. But also I feel that high school students are going through many psychological changes and that they should try to figure themselves out first before they try to bring anyone else into their chaotic lives,” Patel said. “Since I am single I don’t know all the benefits that come from having a relationship, but the biggest one would be having someone close to you that you truly care about and can freely share your life’s feelings with.”[/quote]
Senior Britton Stamps understands how Valentine’s Day can be a possible source of anxiety for teens, and he naturally stays away from that pressure. When it comes to spending time together, Stamps, who is currently dating senior Elinor Stanley, likes to keep it simple, happy, and naturally enjoyable. This is their first Valentine’s Day together as a couple.
“Elinor and I have been together for just over 9 months. Our relationship is really healthy. We hang out a lot, but never seem to get bored with each other. Whether we have a big plan or are just sitting around talking, we enjoy ourselves,” Stamps said. “Honestly, Valentine’s Day to me is simply about hanging out with the person you love. Giving gifts and chocolates symbolize that love in a physical form. I think that Valentine’s Day should be a celebration of the love you share with someone else. There’s a million different ways to do that, whatever makes the person you love the most happy is the best way to celebrate.”
Stamps appreciates that joyful simplicity in his relationship, and doesn’t try to force any celebration. For other high school students, however, a lot of pressure is placed on celebrating the holiday, whether it is because of cultural pressure or expectations from their partners. The former in particular can be difficult to avoid; in 2016, a whopping $4.5 billion was spent on jewelry alone, and a total of $19.7 billion left the wallets of Americans on the holiday, according to Fundivo statistics.
Of course, Valentine’s Day celebrations aren’t only limited to high school and college teens. For studies’ teacher David Graham and Advanced Placement (AP) Biology teacher Kerri Graham, Valentine’s Day takes on a more meaningful form.
“We used to do a special dinner, but that was pre-twin boys. Now, if we do anything, we do it with the boys,” David Graham said. “The real meaning is that it gives me a minute to remember how special Kerri Graham is to me and the boys. While I try to do that daily or weekly, Valentine’s Day brings that to the front, making it almost inescapable in a good way, and I’m thankful for that.”
Even though David Graham is at a mature stage in his relationship, he still understands how many high school teens can struggle when it comes to a day like Valentine’s Day. To him, teens shouldn’t feel pressured to make “the most” out of the holiday, and he believes simply acknowledging the partner and his or her value is enough.
“Most high school couples don’t end up in long-term relationships, so I would remind them that Valentine’s Day is a Hallmark creation; you don’t have to marry who you’re dating now, and simply enjoy the moment,” David Graham said. “Reflect on the nature of your relationship and why your significant other is special in this moment. Do something special if you want, but know you don’t have to.”
What do you do on Valentine’s Day? Let us know in the comments below.