Note to Self: Fearless February


On Feb. 14, 496 AD, Emperor Claudius of ancient Rome executed a man for disobeying his order to deny Christ. In honor of this rebellious man, the Roman Catholic Church appointed that day as a commemoration of the meaningful life he lived. This man’s name was Valentine. Although Valentine’s Day as viewed through the modern lens is merely considered to be a day for romance, chocolates, and candied hearts, the true beginnings of the holiday are, in reality, not so sweet. 

A century before the execution of St. Valentine, Romans celebrated a holiday called Lupercalia, a day in which men and women came together, connecting for the first time, similar to what we often see during Valentine’s Day today. However, unlike the Valentine’s Day we know in the present, the type of romance seen during Lupercalia was extremely different: instead of exchanging chocolates and gifts, women would often receive lashes from men with animal hides they had sacrificed earlier in the day, as this was believed to ensure romance and fertility. In other words, the “original” Valentine’s Day leaned more toward men taking advantage of women. What we see today, however, is a day in which lovers hold hands, execute grandiose proposals, and declare tearful “I do”s.

However, not everyone gets to enjoy the modern luxury of a lovey-dovey Valentine’s Day. In fact, the symbolic romantic events stated above are often not a reality, but simply clichéd media portrayals that reflect social norms. Statistics say that relationship rejections are 27 to 40 percent higher during the week of Valentine’s Day than at any other time of the year, which is not only pretty depressing but also unexpected in a holiday meant to represent love and happiness.

Although Valentine’s exemplifies instances of romantic rejection, rejection is not only a matter experienced in the romantic realm. Whether social or academic, rejection is prevalent in various aspects of everyday life. For instance, February is a month when many high school seniors anxiously await their college decision letters. Although it would be an applaudable feat and something worth cherishing if you got admitted to your dream schools, it cannot be forgotten that they may also face numerous rejections, as life may take you elsewhere. You might go to a job interview in a fresh, crisp suit, ready to seek for new opportunities, but face disappointment after you are not contacted for a call-back. You may knock on your long-time crush’s door and ask them out on a date with a pack of Ferrero Rocher chocolates in your hands and still be met with a straight-faced “no.” 

Despite the initial difficulties and discouragement you will inevitably feel from occurrences of rejection, it is important to realize that rejection is something that you, along with many others, will have to endure countless times throughout your life. Hence, instead of drowning in a whirl of defeats, looking past the setbacks and pushing toward potential successes is essential for growing a stronger mentality. Keep in mind that in the long run, rejection can act as a stepping stone, leading to bigger accomplishments and improvements regarding your outlook on yourself and others. No matter the circumstance, whether it be the school you get accepted to, a new job opportunity, or your new romantic partner, as long as you push through and courageously persevere, it is quite likely that the puzzle pieces will fall into place. 

Thinking back, are there any moments in your life you wished you had been a little braver, a little bolder, a little less wary? Many people regret not going out of their comfort zones, taking risks when they had the chance. If you can relate, it would not be such a bad idea to start jumping at opportunities that come your way. If you want to ask someone out on Valentine’s Day, instead of contemplating the rejection that may come after, remember the possibility of a positive outcome. As February comes to a close, face whatever comes your way fearlessly, whether it be rejection or success, as no matter the circumstance, chances may come knocking at your door, possibly holding a pack of Ferrero Rocher chocolates.