As a generation, our idea of love is built around what we see on a TV screen or reading the pages of a Nicholas Sparks novel. It's a romantic, innocent, cheesy kind of love, so cheesy that it is disgustingly gooey. The kind where a princess would smile adorably into the face of her Prince Charming, the heart throbbing handsome man who would save her from the dragon. The type where the guy would kiss the girl in the rain and tell her "I love you," making everyone in the audience collectively melt and explode into happy tears.
Yep. I used to eat that shit up like it was my grandma's apple pie, which, in case you were wondering, is actually the best thing on planet Earth.
The older I got the less I believed in the idea of a fairy-tale romance. I grew up with what only could be defined as douche-bags and villains of the highest degree, only interested in my body or my influence or worse, my sisters. That was a big no no. So I never bothered to waste my time talking, walking, and certainly not kissing, any of those toads.
There were still those movies, however, that I would rewatch on replay. The First Time always got a hoot out of me, as did The Other Woman. My favorite movie, one that what I thought was the most realistic adaptation of twenty-first-century teen love, was The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The rawness of the film, displaying all the tough and tender emotions we feel at that age, really reached out of the screen and tugged on your heart strings as much as any sappy romance movie.
One particular quote really did brush on my mind: "We accept the love we think we deserve."
It touched my head at first but as I finished high school and entered college, the quote came back to me and slammed me right over, opening a whole new meaning.
I have associated the feeling of love with pain for the last four years of my life. Believe me, there is no pain quite like losing someone you love. It is an exquisite kind of torture that tears at your insides and radiates an emotional shockwave so strong you feel like you can't even breathe, or get up again.
I've lost a grandparent to Alzheimer's, my best friend to moving, and my first love to a fatal car crash. I've since healed from that, slowly still, but graduating, coming to college, meeting all these new, lovely, amazing people, these humans - it is as much of a healing balm for me as hot chocolate, fuzzy slippers, and a back rub.
We really do accept love as how we feel as we deserve it. If you're coming out of a heavy, controlling relationship, where you felt that you're only worth something if you love one person, screw that. If you're the victim of tragedy, having lost someone, open your eyes, not a bottle of vodka. If you're stuck in a time loop, replaying the same relationship over and over with other guys or girls, sit down and let the sands settle. If you're alone and want to be with someone, don't rush.
Love comes in many forms or shapes: loyalty to our friends, a commitment to our families, a rush of emotion when we see a toddler run, smile beaming, towards us for the first time, or when we get the letter of acceptance into college. We feel it as a tender connection when a tiny newborn baby stirs in our arms, the childish delight of a dog happily licking your palm on the sidewalk. It is the ticklish, oh so comfortable sensation when you snuggle into the arms of a lover, or wake up with messy bedhead and a smile, feeling fingertips tracing patterns lightly on your rib cage. It is the simple joy of feeling the sun on your skin or sleeping on clean sheets on a cool fall evening.
A love for being us, even when we are divided by borders, opinions, and expectations, is what it means to be you, to be complete.
In The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Charlie said, "We accept the love we think we deserve."
We, as human beings, employ and practice this in so many different, wild ways. You deserve those loves, so much of all the different loves, for yourself, because you are worth it. You're still here. That matters.