<3 at Stuy
Issue 8, Volume 113
By Soobin Choi
Love is “to hold dear: CHERISH”—or so the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it. But the way a dictionary defines love is not how ordinary people experience this elusive concept. Love differs in innumerable ways, beginning with whom we love, the intensity of the love, and, perhaps most disputed, how we love.
Gary Chapman, the author of The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, categorizes the ways we love into five different forms, or “languages”: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. Being the logic-oriented school Stuyvesant is, there are some skeptics of this philosophy. Sophomore David Jiang feels that Chapman’s method is just a more complicated way of defining love. “When people talk about love languages, everything that they say just falls underneath [the same idea of] loving [someone]. Love languages are just what people prefer doing to express how they love someone,” he said.
Assistant Principal of English Eric Grossman finds that classifying love is limiting. “I don’t think it’s just one thing. [...] I believe that, sure, we’re all different. I don’t know that I think [love’s] reductive, so for you the love language is food and for me the love language is massages. There’s just the kind of [feeling] like that’s the thing,” he said.
Yet for many Stuyvesant students, love languages are a good way to classify their needs for affection. “[My] love languages are physical touch or quality time,” senior Katherine Chen said. “Just the absence of that other person makes you realize quality time is really important.”
Sophomore Ivan Hor is also partial to more tangible aspects of romance. “For me it would be physical affection,” he said. “Because if I ever have a partner, I would want to just sit there and just cuddle them.”
But some Stuyvesant students may have trouble expressing their romantic love. “I’d say Stuy kids have trouble expressing love because people at Stuyvesant think more with their minds than with their heart,” senior Ashley Liu said.
Sophomore Mahmuda Meher echoes Liu’s sentiments and jokingly states that Stuyvesant students aren’t exactly winners when it comes to romantic love. “[Stuyvesant students] are really bad [at relationships],” she said. “None of the relationships last because I don’t think people care enough. [...] And they don’t put as much importance into caring and loving someone. I think it’s a Stuy-specific thing. It’s also an age thing. People are not mature enough to be committed to a relationship.”
Being a teenager can come with a boatload of ups and downs and emotional confusion. “A lot of [students] are awkward. They don’t know what they’re doing,” sophomore Abedur Rahman said. “It’s just a phase in life where [you’re] [...] just experimenting with stuff. They don’t really know how to express themselves.”
Though Stuyvesant students do not always excel at romantic love, friendships fill the school community with other types of love. “In my experience, Stuy kids are uniquely good at expressing many versions of love. I feel very, very grateful to have a job where every day, students walk out of class saying, ‘Thank you, that was a great lesson,’ expressing gratitude, expressing love for the class or the subject,” Grossman said. For him, the small things are what make Stuyvesant’s community so wonderful. “[Students] going above and beyond doing things that they don’t have to be doing [but] because they want to be doing is a form of expressing love.”
Hor’s love language echoes Grossman’s sentiments. “I do this quirky thing called coming to class every day. Isn’t that cool?” he said. “I try to keep it clean. If I see trash on the floor, I’ll try to pick it up and throw it out. If [there’s] just a genuinely bad teacher, I’ll try to report them to the guidance counselor’s to see if things get fixed. I try to help my classmates out with work if they need it, because you know, it’s a tough school. And I can understand if the teacher is absent for some reason or if they’re tired or they’re a little bit off that day.”
Many students found themselves lacking friendships during the pandemic, but the transition back to school offered them an opportunity to form meaningful relationships. “Because I didn’t know anyone last year, I didn’t have that many close bonds with a lot of my friends. But this year, it’s been easy to get closer with people. And I really value that because they mean a lot to me. So I like that part of Stuy, the community is pretty good,” Meher said.
Clubs and extracurriculars can help foster those meaningful relationships. “One of the things I love so far is the club that I’m in, [...] the Guitar Club. It’s a close-knit group so I really like going there, after school on Fridays, meeting with the people part of it,” freshman Sameeha Alam said. “We get to spend time getting to know each other since I’m still a freshman. [...] That counts as a form of love too since it’s the caring environment that makes me look forward to it.”
Hollywood and popular media may perpetuate an expectation of an all-consuming and whirlwind sort of romance. Though this may ring true for some at Stuyvesant, love also comes in quiet, sacred moments. “I know [my] parents, they won’t say ‘I love you’ to me, but they’ll give a plate of fruit after a fight,” Chen said.
And that is simply it: love is different for everyone. “You can show love in so many different ways. It can be both small things, big things depending on the person,” Alam said. “To a friend sending them a message, like ‘How are you doing?’ after not seeing them for a while—that’s a form of love. Just as much as hugging or kissing someone. No matter what level of relationship you have, it’s still possible to love someone.”