We hear it in our favorite songs, see it plastered throughout Hallmark, and even speak the word multiple times a day, sometimes without acknowledging its intensity: love.

I thought I knew what love was when I woke up one Christmas morning to a new American Girl Doll (yes, kids did actually play with dolls and not cell phones!), boy, did I love that doll and of course Santa for bringing it to me.

I thought I knew what love was when I first saw Nick Jonas on the tiny TV in my room. I mean come on, he's SO dreamy.

I thought I knew what love was at age 11 when we adopted a sick Corgi. We cared and played with her, I even scooped poop for crying out loud! By her gentle and fun nature, I knew she loved us back.

I thought I knew what love was in high school, but with the amount of T-Swift I listened to, I should’ve known better. Opening up to someone and getting to know them better than you know yourself isn’t enough sometimes I guess.

So what is love?

According to some, love is patient, love is kind. It always protects, always trust, always hopes, always preserves.

Love is a game, or even a battlefield.

Love is caring for someone, showing a deep appreciation, admiration, breaking down barriers, and even acceptance.

I was recently in the audience of “Me Before You,” and yes, I cried, okay? But more than that, this film made me think. Love is in conflict between protection and one’s happiness and freedom and the other’s happiness, but in the end, someone will lose. Love does not always win, at least not for everyone.

Love is enduring pain in the benefit of others, it’s admitting wrongdoings, it’s putting yourself at the bottom of the list, even though you know you’re important too.

Love is a weird---thing we all need, according to Maslow and his Hierarchy, but why is it something we want? Hollywood paints it as a magical bliss, a happily ever after, end of story. It seems picture perfect, but the reality is full of thorns. If there’s anything I learned from this thinking out loud, it’s that love is different to everyone. Some people prefer to show it through the giving of gifts, and some people recognize it when spoiled. Some like to talk and listen for hours as love slowly blooms. No matter the preference, how odd it may seem to others, love is love. Love is individual. Love is a characteristic we see in others.

Based on this, I’ve concluded that falling in love is rather simple: find someone or something that has that similar characteristic and understands love the way you do. Could be the cute neighbor, your new pet, even a book. Love is easy. It is out there in so many forms, you just have to find the ones for you.