When I was younger, I used to love Valentine's Day. Exchanging Valentine's Day cards and candy was something that I always looked forward to in elementary and middle school. After all, teachers often set up classroom environments where everybody was encouraged to give Valentines to every person in the class.

In the end, everyone was included and everybody felt the love on this day in which everyone is supposed to do just that, include and love each other. I found myself running home to read every valentine I received and to nosh on my candy with the comfort that I was loved and appreciated by my peers.

However, going beyond the walls of elementary and middle schools, Valentine's Day takes on a much different meaning. As children grow older, this holiday is no longer a day full of greeting cards, sweet candy, and expressing how much you care for other people.

In high school, I was taught by my classmates, and by society, that Valentine's Day was not about making people feel like they are especially cared for and appreciated. Valentine's Day is actually a corporate holiday, where people in romantic relationships, and only those people, were supposed to spend money on their significant others to express how much they love them.

Though I had my fair amount of valentines in high school, I realized that I didn't like society's idea of what this holiday was about. Yes, I received a fair amount of candy and flowers, but books, movies, television shows and other media around me still portrayed Valentines Day unrealistically, putting pressure on both people in relationships and those who are single.

I felt pressured to make the day perfect for my valentines and I could tell that they felt the same. We all spent, and wasted, our money on materialistic things, and quite honestly love should be expressed through words and actions, not items. And for those people who are single, or have been single before, the holiday just makes them feel bad for not having a romantic partner.

In college, I've never had a valentine. I have spent my time in college single and focusing on myself. Yet, most of my peers and friends are in relationships. Yes, I felt left out at first and I felt like I needed to be in a relationship to be happy and to feel better about myself on this corporate holiday. However, then I realized that my train of thought was all wrong.

I realized that having a romantic partner at this point in my life is not what is best for me personally. I spent Valentine's Day this year doing what I wanted to do and loving myself. I remembered how much I loved Valentine's Day when I was younger, so I looked back upon my roots.

As I did in elementary and middle school, I showed everyone around me that they were included in this lovefest, and that I loved them and that I appreciated them. I am so thankful for everyone that is in my life, and what better way to express it than reminding them on Valentine's Day?

After all, a holiday about love should be about loving all people, not just romantic partners, and it should be expressed through non-material sentiments. I am proud of myself for celebrating Valentine's Day like I did in the past, and I wouldn't want it any other way.