What’s four letters long and starts with an “L?”
If you had asked me what love was 14 years ago, I would’ve poured my heart out to you just like I did to Luis via a cheesy alphabet poem, poorly cut construction paper and glitter glue. I never got a response back because I didn’t put my name on it, but deep down I think he felt it too.
When I was 11, love’s name was “anonymous” because my parents didn’t add cards to the Valentine’s day deliveries they had sent to my class.
Fast forward to the 7th grade and love was Jesus and Christian boys. Through mass every other weekend and my Protestant school’s mandated Monday service, I fell in love with having faith in something bigger than myself.
Summer after my freshman year of high school a wise man told me, “love yourself girl or nobody will” and I said, “I won’t let you down, J.Cole.” So I rolled into my sophomore year with the Born Sinner album on repeat and I knew that I didn’t need a boy. In true 14-year old girl fashion, I loved myself.
Then for a split second, love looked a little like a girl.
Once I graduated high school, I thought I had found true love. However he was now 4,000 miles away, and I was wasting the time we could’ve been together in sitting in college. Distance was tough, but he said he loved me and a whole bunch of other nice things to me and so it had to be worth it.
But despite the daily FaceTime calls and texting every hour, on the hour, he was jealous. He said and did some not so lovable things. I ignored a lot of it because according to every rom-com ever, it’s supposed to be complicated and I’m supposed to wait for the day that I’m at the gate of flight 727 and he somehow sped past TSA to stop me from going wherever it is I was going to tell me he loves me. I’ll cry happy tears then drop my plans to stay with him and everything will be great.
But instead we broke up and I all of the sudden I didn’t believe in love anymore.
For the past two years since then, I’ve been telling myself that I should never love anyone again because my one serious go at it ended up being really crappy. It’s going to end anyway, so what’s the point? I had it engrained in my brain that I’m great by myself — plus, being alone was a better look. Who doesn’t love an independent woman?
Well, that sentiment didn’t do me much good. I got really sad, lost whatever motivation I used to have, and believe it or not, I started feeling pretty f***ing lonely. So I started acting out, and being away in college made it so easy because there was no one there to keep tabs on me. I don’t want to say I regret any of the choices I made, but I definitely think I could’ve done without them.
When enough was enough and I finally came to realize that I needed to be a better and healthier me, I made a lot of changes to my life. I moved, decided to take a break from school, started practicing healthier habits, picked up some new hobbies — the whole quarter-life crisis special.
While all of that has made me feel a lot better, more whole even, what really helped me out of that schlump was recognizing two things:
- I NEED LOVE (Yes, the feminist in me is screaming at that claim, but I’ll explain).
- My whole concept of love was screwed up.
I began to act out because I was lonely and wanted to be seen. As sad as that may sound, it’s not uncommon. I lost who I thought I was in love with and convinced myself that that was my only shot. Little did I know that I had a billion other opportunities for love right in front of me, none of which were boys.
I don’t know what Luis is up to anymore and considering history repeats itself, I’ll probably never hear from him. But who knew that would be the start to a lifetime of art and wake up the writers bug in me.
My parents are still the biggest cheeseballs in the game and the most fun I’ve ever had with my siblings is talking about the funny things they do and their millions of other selfless acts.
I’m not really one for religion anymore. But something I find really beautiful about religion and the foundation of churches is service work and their intentions to help other people. My stint in Christianity is probably what sparked my motivation to work for a service organization today.
Music made up so many of my life experiences and having the self-awareness that I do today is a privilege and I see that now.
I was in a toxic relationship. It made me cry and angry and think the absolute least of myself. But I found friends and built a support system that got me through it.
What took me awhile to realize was how little romance has to do with love. I never considered the fact that the two aren’t interchangeable. Can you blame me though? Everyday we’re fed these unrealistic expectations and stories of romance with the word “love” slapped right on the front of it and 9/10 times it doesn’t fit the mold of what love really looks like.
So we hold out and search for these love stories that could never really happen for us (unless given a $45,000,000 budget, thanks Love Actually), because if Keira Knightley isn’t fulfilled until love works itself out, why would we be?
When I realized that I wasn’t getting that dramatic airport scene or $45,000,000 anytime soon, I gave up and became unappreciative of all the love that I already had in my life. However, in the past year, I’ve been lucky enough to get out of that mindset and now I soak up as much of it as I can.
I’ll leave you with this really fascinating fact about love: It can be found in anything. Whether it be in art, family, friends, servitude, identity or even romance, love is everywhere and it shows itself in it’s reflection of you.