Sean Reichbach

It’s a draining force that overpowers the best of us. Your resistance is often futile. We sing songs about it, tell stories about it and remind ourselves of its presence on a daily basis. It’s your greatest ally when you’re stuck in a rut, and sometimes your greatest weakness when you try to hide in the dark. As college students, we are only beginning to understand what it truly means. For many of us, it is in the positive reflective moments where we will finally accept its grace. As we consume more social media, and swipe left or right on a beautiful face because there is another beautiful face behind it, we risk losing its warmth and casting a dark shadow over our lives. What am I talking about? Love.

Love is not physical, albeit it obviously plays a role in attraction between two people who love each other. Love is not reserved by those who are in a relationship, nor should it be assigned to some sort of role as a stepping stone toward a higher form of commitment. We are sometimes comfortable with telling our friends that we love them, and we are sometimes comfortable only telling a set of names that could fit on our fingers that we love them. When you are in the heat of a passionate moment, it can be extremely hard to make the decision in your mind about whether or not you love someone. Do they truly belong on your special list?

Awkwardness is only the beginning of what it feels like to open your heart to another and be met with no reciprocation. We all live in our own little world, and when a character in that world doesn’t meet our expectations we feel the glass walls shatter. But, you should not hesitate to display love, espouse love and display acts of love when your brain is making that anxiety rise up from the depths of your chest. A song is beautiful even when you sing it to yourself in the mirror. Even if it flows in one direction, being comfortable with opening your heart to another is a significant achievement.

Sitting in your room late at night and waiting for that long text back is one of the ways that our generation has experienced some of the anxieties that come with developing a healthy form of love. Whether you invite someone over for a single night, or make hints to the one you love that you are feeling something more than just temporary passion, it is the time when we lay on our bed and have only our own brain to worry about that we tend to question if love is real. There is no need to fear in these moments. To love is to defy chemistry and to defy logic. It is the bravest thing that a human being can do. It can be as risky as flying beyond the atmosphere and touching the stars. Every astronaut knows that there’s a chance the shuttle burns up in the sky, but the view from above the sky is worth it.

Loving is extremely complicated. There are those who meet both your physical and mental demands. There are also some who you may briefly feel deeply for and only fulfill a sexual desire or a personality trait you’re looking for. It is important, especially with a web of online apps and interactions that make us see the imperfections more clearly than ever before, that no person is complete. We are each a puzzle that is missing more than a dozen pieces. To love does not require you to fit perfectly together with another. Nor does it require you to find the missing pieces in another person’s puzzle. To love someone is to recognize that they are incomplete, and that a full and caring heart does not beat at a pace that perfectly matches your own.

Many of us speak of “true love.” But there is no true love perfectly distinct from every other form of love you have experienced in your life. If you are searching for a moment where love falls right into your arms, you may be searching forever. That is why it is of the utmost importance that you take the risk with someone who you feel a connection to even if you are uncertain of everything else going on in your life. You can be having complex and dynamic feelings, and yet still see a glimpse of love in an imperfect specimen that runs into you. It is often when we feel the most confused about whether we truly love someone that the answer emerges naturally. There is only the love that you feel for the people around you, and the butterflies in your stomach that form when you get that text back. Hell, make the judgment call based upon which person gives you more butterflies. There will be a complex twisting haunted forest in front of you that is called a love life, just make sure you don’t turn around and run away from it.

Sean Reichbach is a senior majoring in philosophy, politics and law and economics and is Pipe Dream’s Opinions Editor.