I used to believe that love was overrated, a perpetual goal that was never meant to be taken seriously but accidentally became classed as one of the most important things in everyone’s lives, no matter who you were.
I used to think love mainly consisted of untimely commitment, stolen kisses, and experiences judged by how quickly or how far they can spread.
I used to think love was unreasonable, full of a hope that only worked until you learned the truth and realised that this idea of intimate gestures and coordinating outfits wasn’t worth the hype that media painted it out to be.
I used to be wrong.
It took me days of regret, months of realisation, constant self-correction, restless nights filled with fluctuating self-esteem, and the odd existential crisis here and there to figure out what love can truly be.
Love, I decided, can manifest itself in the most peculiar of ways: an insanely consistent set of top grades, forever immaculate acrylic nails, effortless and immediately recognisable style, immortal inside jokes, or even a quiet appreciation that goes unnoticed by most. It can be seen by those who aren’t looking for it and missed by those who are because it remains hushed, not needing the validation of popularity.
Love, I decided, is not something to be defined by mere alphabets. As if being enigmatic and ever-changing wasn’t enough, love is also wholly subjective and dependant on the individual. To some, love is the warmth of a genuine smile or intertwined fingers on a cold day but, to others, love is sharing a body spray or explaining the notes from a missed class because familiar metaphors work better than new analogies.
Love, I decided, is unpredictable. Some can lose themselves in the lyrics of a song where others can climb inside books and forget their worries; some can call their friends at ridiculous times and know they’ll have someone to listen; some can arrange a time and place knowing that they’ll do absolutely nothing, a friendly presence being the most important thing; and some can never utter words that reveal their inner emotions but reflect them with their facial expressions or actions instead.
Equally natural and mysterious, love is a term used both too commonly and not commonly enough.
It’s not as simple as a sentiment, it’s a lifestyle that can’t be categorised or easily recognised. Not limited to people, love can be expressed for just about anything we can – and can’t – fathom. Regardless of whether it’s circle theorems, midday naps, exhausting shopping hauls, or staring at the stars on a cloudless night, love is there with you.
It follows you around like a shadow forged from promises and happiness, laced with hope and healing and learning curves. It festers, but it’s not unwanted. It doesn’t have to touch you to fill you with power, with confidence, and sometimes, with a sense of overwhelming sadness that cannot be described.
Ultimately, love isn’t all about being comfortable, it’s more like accepting that you’re uncomfortable but managing to function nonetheless. In contrast to popular belief, love isn’t when you never feel upset and always feel on top of the world, it’s when you know you’re free to be melancholy because your sadness isn’t what defines you. Because, like it or not, love is what keeps the world spinning.
Of course, love is not two dimensional. Very few things are and abstract concepts can never be one of them, not as long as thoughtful beings like us are around to question, confuse, and complicate. Like most complex ideas, love can be painful and bitter and far more hurtful than even the sharpest of weapons, but it is always there, shifting and adapting, ready to battle on our behalf as soon as we believe in its existence.
So, why don’t we?