We all know this word. Some people adore it, others are disgusted by even a single thought of it. It can invite people in or it can drive them away – sometimes in tears. And if someone does mention this word, I’m sure one, if not a few, visual images come into our mind. If you thought of a lizard, then I applaud you for such creativity. But unfortunately, this “L” word that I’m talking about is not a lizard; it’s love.
Love is talked about all over social media, written in books and blog posts, and even a topic of conversation in our daily lives. Love can be found everywhere the eye can see and is sometimes hard to ignore. Even when I was once a prepubescent teenager I was enamored by the very idea of “love” and how much I would love to have someone to share that feeling of love with. And now at 23 years old, I still feel that way about the “L” word – only sometimes, though.
I use the word sometimes because I have come to be afraid of the “L” word. Like many, I’ve experienced my fair share of heartbreak in the form of actual break-ups, missed opportunities, and one-sided crushes. It can be difficult bouncing back from the shattered pieces of what you thought was love. Now, it is nothing more than spilled milk waiting to be cleaned up from the floor, counter, or where ever it spilled. And as the saying goes, “There’s no use in crying over spilled milk.” However, I never really followed that meaning with vindication and still managed to cry over the-said “spilled milk.”
Now, many of you may be wonder what was the condition of this milk, how did it spill, and so on. To give you the full details would take hours, possibly days, maybe even three or four more blog posts. But to keep short and sweet, there were three incidents that caused me to develop a fear of the “L” word.
- She was my first love. And she was also my first unrequited love. Some may classify it differently, but I believe in my heart that I loved her. I confessed to her many times and asked her to be my girlfriend, but unfortunately she would always so no. I always had a feeling that something could happen, however, nothing actually did. Then in college I found out she wouldn’t date me because if she did, she thought that would be it and she would eventually settle for me. Ouch.
- My second love. This occurred in the middle of high school and we met through a friend. But we only started “talking” to each other a year later – via Myspace (Let the judgement commence). Although she didn’t agree to be my girlfriend, we dated for about nine months. I honestly thought we were doing fine, and then she suddenly drops a bomb: “I think we should just be friends.” Cue snippets of (500) Days of Summer. Agreement, emptiness, another girlfriend, realization that I still loved my second love, a not-so-sweet ending that ended in her hating me. Double ouch.
- My official third love. We met during my study abroad period in Korea. We got into a Korean drama-esque love rectangle: I liked her, she liked our friend and our friend had a girlfriend. We went on a date but I know the feelings weren’t mutual. At least she gave me a chance and we all still managed to remain as international friends. Less severe, yet still ouch.
Now, I have had pleasant encounters with love in the form of family and friends. But now when I think about the intimate love that is shared between two significant others, that frightens me. These incidents made me fall into a belief that if the feeling isn’t mutual then I should just pack up, leave, and return to my castle of solitude without even attempting to court the person I’m interested in. Some people may criticize me for thinking this way and that’s okay. I would also like to note I do not regret falling in love with these wonderful individuals. With their help I was able to learn more about myself, think differently about various aspects of life, and encouraged me to keep searching for my own form of happiness. All these good things happened along with the bad.
I also believe that being afraid of the “L” word has a few perks. I have grown to be more cautious. When I realize I’m interested in someone, I take some time to confirm whether my feelings are real or just a momentary attraction towards that person. Do I see myself in a relationship with them? Or do I just want to kiss them and feel their body pressed up against mine? Another perk that comes with being afraid is that I am able to put other facets of my life as a priority. No significant other means I can focus on bettering myself physically, academically, and even spiritually and mentally. What do I want out of life? What kind of person do I want to be for the next person I give my heart to?
But at the end of the day, I am still afraid of the “L” word, something that would be nice to share with someone that isn’t a family or friend. I’ve found it difficult opening up, to practically anyone, after developing so many counter-measures to ensure that I am unable to experience any form of heartbreak ever again. It’s scary and nerve-wracking and sometimes a little short of frightening. But I am not afraid to admit that I am afraid of the “L” word-or more so, I am afraid of falling back in love. Why bother if I’m going to be hurt all over again, right? But even though I am afraid of the whole concept of love, I also believe that love is out there; it’s tangible and real, vibrant, and brings never-ending joy. I just have yet to find the right opportunity. So to everyone else who is afraid of this thing called love, let’s all hope and believe that we will find it; maybe not soon, but eventually. So keep hoping, keep dreaming, and keep on loving even if it’s the thing you’re afraid of the most.