As a young, independent and thriving female trying to make her place in such a big world, love is something I’ve yet to truly figure out. Love is a very powerful feeling that shapes the way people respond to one another. I feel as though we categorize Love in order to regulate how it’s given. Maybe it’s because I’m young but I feel like love is something that should be more normal. We generalize love in a romantic way when in reality it’s just a way to reflect one’s admiration and respect for another. Oftentimes I find myself in an awkward position with people that combine love with affection when I’m just genuinely trying to express gratitude toward them. Love is something that comes natural to me in abundance because I do my best to reflect the God in me at all times. Im a firm believer that love is all we need in this crazy, sick, twisted yet beautiful world we live in. The lack of love and misconception of it is where I see the opportunity for all the madness. I think of love simply as a penetrating force that sheds light on even the darkest places. I was always told that to love someone is to understand them. As a result of that and my empathetic nature, I’ve been molded into a very compassionate person. The instant my mind goes to a place of judgement, I’ve conditioned myself to instead consider the possibilities of what said person may be going through that’s led them to where they are now. Instead of thinking of them as a stranger, an acquaintance or any other label that would cause me to love them a little less, I reflect as if it were me or someone I love. If it was someone I loved being bullied, I would say and do something. If it were someone I loved on the street hungry, begging for money or food, I would feed them or give what I could. If it were me… I’d want someone to love me enough to help. I don’t think love is at all closely related to the way it’s portrayed in society. Love is something you have to just do and be, it’s not something you pick and choose when to use. Even in romance, love is something you use most when you come across the flaws and potential of another. This brings life to more specifically, unconditional love- which is the love of God. I struggle with staying in tune with my reality of love because of how others perceive it and/or use it against me. I believe a lot of people use love more as a manipulation tactic than a genuine act. Love becomes conditional when we only love with expectation. Whereas, in my natural state I just love. I am love. It’s all love. The idea is to plant a seed, be sure to water it from time-to-time, let life shine on it and watch it grow to fruition.

Author- Ariana McBride