Ongrowing - Lessons in Love
5 things I learned from the month of love
I hope you’ve been having a great start to your year. February really flew by for me. Time feels long yet short at the same time. A lot has happened, but here’s a few personal updates recapped in 3 photos:
February is often associated with love because of Valentine’s Day. While I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s myself, I couldn’t help but ponder on the subject. I’ve actually been thinking and conversing about love a lot more recently.
For how much the word is used and thrown around, I find it quite surprising that the word is pretty difficult to define. Love is quite abstract and nuanced. There are many layers, many types and many ways to love, yet it seems that the only love we like to talk about is the kind we see in romantic comedy movies and shows. I want us to pause for a second and think.
What does it mean to love?
I used to think that love is a very intangible thing, an invisible object something that is given and received and exchanged. I thought that love is a very passive and organic thing. But as I’m growing older, I’m realizing that love is more than just a feeling of intense like and affection. Love is also a verb. A commitment that you have to choose and show up for. Regarding love between people, I learned that:
Self-love is not selfish
In this modern era, I think self-love still gets a bad rep. When people hear self-love or self-care, they might have an image of women soaking in bath bombs and buying themselves flowers. Nothing wrong with that perception, but I believe self-love is much bigger than that. To be able to respect and honor yourself, to communicate your needs to your loved ones, to prioritize your own feelings, to choose rest over work. These things are all acts of self-love. I’m a big believer that you can only love others as much as you love yourself. If you yourself are unwell, unhappy, and unloved, how do you expect to treat others with compassion and kindness? It all starts from within.
Love is all about expression and reception
We think love is this warm, fuzzy feeling or this thrill of butterflies flying and soaring in our stomachs. While they can translate to that, feelings and emotions are often exchanged through the languages we communicate in. The 5 Love Languages is a good framework for this. Gary Chapman says that there are five different ways of expressing and feeling love: physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of services, quality time, and gifts. It’s so important that we are aligned on how each one of us expresses and receives love. The way we express love might not be the way our loved one receives it. It’s also equally important that we soften ourselves and allow ourselves to open up and receive love in ways that might be uncomfortable to us.
Be grateful for love
When it comes to people who you are close to, you can sometimes feel like love is a duty or a default. However, just because you’re family or you’re married doesn’t necessarily mean you have to or will love each other. Love is a choice and a commitment. You need to remember that it that requires intention and action.
I don’t think that love is always easy. If someone loves you, it means they care about you, they think about you, and they choose to spend energy on you. It’s incredibly wonderful and beautiful to love and to be loved.
Love can ebb and flow
Like everything in life, there’s no constant. Life is full of ups and downs. There will be days where other aspects of life have to be prioritized. There will be days where you may forget or neglect your loved ones’ needs. There will be arguments and fights and bumps and challenges. Nowadays, where it’s so easy to connect to new people, I feel that people are quick to cut relationships in their lives, be it with friends or lovers or family members. I think we forget that love also requires resilience and patience. On rocky days, you will have to remind yourself of why you’re choosing love.
Love is a practice
Ultimately, love is a practice of communication, of expression, of patience, of understanding. To love is to show compassion and kindness. To love is to constantly fine tune and adjust your relationships. Be it with your friends or family or partner. Know your brother’s love language, ask how your friend is doing, buy flowers for your aunt. Love can be easy and rewarding with the right people, but it also requires effort, care, and nurturing. Don’t take love for granted.
The Writing Prompt
What are the important relationships in your life? How are you expressing and receiving love in those relationships? What’s one way you can show love to yourself and your loved ones today?
Until next time,