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2017 RUBY B jOHNSON  

Will you be my sweetheart?

February 14, 2016

 

Will you be my sweetheart?

 

As a kid in elementary school, I remember the time of year when I had to purchase “sweethearts” for the classmates I loved (or, deeply liked is more realistic). We had all types of sweethearts: crush sweethearts, cute sweethearts, secret admirer sweethearts, you are cute sweethearts. I collected all the coins that I could and I bought as many sweethearts as I could. I knew that I would get as many. That’s how it works, right?

 

I counted down the days until Sweetheart Day. I fantasized about who would give me the most sweethearts, and who would give me which kinds. I had the entire scenario for that day in my head. I counted the number of sweethearts that I expected to have.

 

Of course, I played out the worst case scenario. What if I don’t receive any sweetheart? What if I am at my desk and everyone gets a sweetheart but me??? I had my response ready, “I wasn’t expecting any sweetheart anyway. This is all a waste of money. Who cares?”

I was terrified that no one loves me.

 

The day before sweetheart day, I could not sleep.

 

I was in such a state of fright. As I walked into my homeroom, I did not see any sweethearts on the teacher’s desk. I sat down. I could not take my eyes off of the teacher’s face.

 

Is she nervous? Is she scared that she has to tell us that we did not get a sweetheart? I look down at my desk, heartbroken.

 

“There are our sweethearts!!!” I heard someone scream. Everyone was excited because the sweethearts had arrived. The teacher passed the sweethearts out. We all watched as certain students get 10 crush sweethearts, 2 secret admirer’s sweethearts, or friend’s sweethearts, etc. She walked passed me so many times.

 

I have none.

I hear my friend say, “Oh Ruby, thank you! I am sorry. I did not get you one.”

I said, “It’s okay. It is more about the giving than receiving.” In my head, I counted on YOU to give me a sweetheart. You are NOT my friend anymore.

 

Oh my! I got a sweetheart. My whole world lit up! I feel so special.

 

It’s from my homeroom teacher. She announces with great pride, “No one goes without a sweetheart on sweetheart day.” I am humiliated by the pity sweetheart.

 

I was 7 years old. This is one small example of how I learned and developed the anxiety- inducing pressure that is placed the displays of love. As a little girl, I did not know the meaning or significance of Sweetheart Day. I learned this from teachers, administrators, commercials, and most impactfully, from my peers emotional responses. “He really loves.” “I did not know I had so many secret admirers.”  When I did not get the “fantasy” experience of Sweetheart Day, my mind said, “no one loves you.” “No one cares. I learned that the other days of the year, that I was shown love, did not matter. Sweetheart Day trumps all other days. As a result, I missed and forgot a lot of important gestures of affection, love, and kindness. The ping of pain from when I sat in the desk with no sweetheart became the reality.

 

Will the Sweetheart Day moments that are advertised, displayed, highlighted, or draped as ideal overshadow the moments of kindness, affection, and daily fondness and admiration of your love ones?

 

Thoughts for today.

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