U R Sweet: Appreciate your ‘insignificant’ others

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By Julia Hotz

It’s that time of year again: Valentine’s Day season at Union.

Between couples frantically calling Johnny’s, Zen and Aperitivo to make last-minute dinner reservations, single ladies chiming in about seeing the “50 Shades of Gray” premiere in lieu of evening plans, bookstore-purchased roses and a cappella singing grams floating around like winter snowflakes and homemade care packages filled with Mom’s red- and pink-iced cookies invading campus like the flu, it’s difficult to miss this campus’ Valentine’s Day spirit.

But while cheesy Hallmark cards, heart-shaped Russell Stover boxes and corny Hollywood flicks may prompt us to reflect only on our romantic relationships during Valentine’s Day season, we may also use this time to cherish our friendships, or even appreciate our passing acquaintances.

It may be a time to pass the proverbial conversation heart not only to our significant others, but also to our everyday connections, our “insignificant” others.

In fact, extending such acts of appreciation to those we merely casually associate with may be especially necessary for winter term, a time when we often hide our smiles by retreating into our scarves and gaze down at our phones to avoid facing the blistery winds.

Indeed, as suggested by terms like cabin fever, winter blues and Seasonal Affective Disorder, we sometimes let the bitter cold weather translate into our attitudes, and subsequently miss out on greeting members of our Union community with the warmth and appreciation they deserve.

But to pass up on these interactions is to pass up on hearing Trycia, one of Dutch’s beloved checkout women, tell you about her son’s love of sneakers.

It’s to underestimate how Kevin, one of  Union’s legendary, late-night trolley drivers, genuinely cares about you and your state of well-being on Sunday morning.

It’s to ignore the heartwarming moments of the friendship between Marnie and Dee, the iconic West Dining Hall duo, whose collective laughter is as addictive as West’s omelets.

It’s to miss the smile of Joyce, the patience of Carol, the friendliness of Christine and the motherly check-in of Dawn, who somehow finds the kindest words to tell you that you’ve run out of declining even though it’s only Week 5.

These are not the relationships that we stereotypically emphasize during Valentine’s Day season.

But if I could begin to depict the excitement that Bruce, one of Schaffer Library’s lifesaving reference librarians, embodied when my friends and I delivered him a thank-you card earlier this week, then perhaps you would think differently about the importance of appreciating even the “insignificant” others in your life.

To cherish these interactions, connections that I’ve increasingly realized are unique to both this school and this time in my life, is to capture the true essence of love, the very tenet that Valentine’s Day is supposed to be about.

So this Valentine’s Day, rather than muse about dinner plans with that special someone or whip out the Ben and Jerry’s and put on “He’s Just Not That Into You,” make a conscious effort to appreciate those who unconditionally appreciate you every day of the year, and to understand their significance to your Union experience.

To do so does not require a grandiose display of pink-and-red colored affection, but it can be as simple as eye contact, a smile or a “thank you for all that you do.”

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