Be My Valentine

I’ll bet each of us has a memory associated with Valentine’s Day. For me, I’d wait in anticipation to see who selected me as a recipient of a coveted Valentine because, back then, we didn’t send Valentines to every student in the class. Rather, we picked those we wanted to honor as our friends, and made sure the sentiment on the card matched the receiver.

Obviously, those weren’t Hallmark cards. My earliest recollections include Valentine booklets, similar to paper dolls, where you punched out the simple Valentines with different messages from the front and the envelopes in the back. Later on, we could buy them in a cellophane-wrapped box, which made the process much easier. Regardless, I’d spend hours deciding who warranted which card, and wondering if I’d receive a similar message in return.

Our teacher’s role included decorating a large carton with a mail slot on top, and placing it on her desk in the front of the class as a reminder for us to “mail” our Valentines during the week before the special day. When Valentine’s Day arrived and we finished our classwork, she’d rip open the box with great fanfare, and deliver our cards up and down the rows of desks, with us waiting in anticipation for our Valentines.

Of course, the popular kids had mounds of cards on their desks, and reveled with delight each time our teacher dropped another on their piles. Unfortunately, I didn’t fit into that category, leaving me to wonder why this one or that one didn’t pick me as a Valentine. I suppose those feelings don’t leave us, even when we’ve long forgotten whether we’d ever won any popularity contests, or not.

I sometimes muse about how some authors achieve best seller status, and others don’t, even though their books have similar high qualities. Is that success tied to networking? …or visibility? …or luck?

If we compare the popular kids and their mounds of Valentines with successful authors of best sellers, I have a feeling that networking and visibility play a huge role. We gravitate to those who invite us to get to know them personally and to those who readily share their gifts and talents. Perhaps that’s part of what Valentine’s Day is all about. We think about those others in our lives who mean so much to us, rather than focusing on ourselves. Looking out, not looking in, so to speak.

In reality, it’s all about what we give, not what we get.

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