“Valentine’s Day” by Andrew Vu

Valentine’s Day is approaching. All around me, I see people doing the thing they have always done. Either they are getting other people Valentines, and talking enthusiastically about it, or they simply ignore it, or they consider doing something but end up doing nothing.

For me, this Valentine’s Day is radically different from any previous. For the first time ever, I want to give a Valentine to someone.

In elementary school, my parents forced me to get a bag of candy, write messages on each piece, and give them to everyone in the class. I resented this and didn’t know why I was being forced to do it. “Why not just give everyone candy without this heart stuff?” I thought. The entire premise felt like adults forcing us to do things for no good reason.

In middle school, we stopped giving people things, so I stopped thinking about Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day became just another random, irrelevant event that passed without me ever caring. Valentine’s Day applied to other people, not me. Romance was some outlandish concept that applied to an entirely different universe. To me, a red heart was simply a misnamed shape in a rather common, boring color. It did not have any special meaning. I would have been more interested in mathematically computing the area of a heart than actually using it for something.

In 9th and 10th grade, I had the same mentality, but there was the added pressure of being in high school, and having to save face in front of other people. I did not want to be made fun of as the guy trying to impress girls. I would have said, “Valentine’s Day? Feelings? Doing something for another girl? Are you being serious?” I probably did say these things at some point. If you told me in 10th grade that I would want to give a Valentine to a girl in 11th grade, I almost certainly would have laughed at you. I would have thought that was ridiculous.

And yet, here I am.

I had to overcome an internal barrier to want to give a Valentine. Before, I hid my feelings behind a facade of logic and thinking. I did not want to deal with other people. I thought everything should be logical and orderly, like math and science. I craved order and organization in my life. I wanted numbers, not words. I found exponential functions easier to understand than emotions. I viewed pathos as the problem with humanity: we were too emotional.

My heart was imprisoned by my brain.

Now my heart has broken free.