I’ve never been good at loving.
When I was little, I’d squeeze my stuffed animals until they couldn’t breathe. I’d wrap my arms around dogs and kittens and make them run away. I’d hug my sister until she squirmed and screamed for my parents. I’d give tootsie rolls to my kindergarten crushes, who proceeded to share the chocolate with their friends and stomp the wrappers on the playground pavement.
I didn’t know the rules, the give and take, the withdrawal, the distance, the fear that comes when someone is too forward with their emotions.
I didn’t understand that there was a line to be drawn with love. And that if you crossed that line, you’d be loving too much, and people can’t always handle that.
I didn’t know that love could be guarded, and even now, I still don’t know how one could be.
As time passed, I didn’t get any better at loving. I wrote poems about men who didn’t care about me in the same way. I hugged strangers instead of shaking their hands. I kissed friends on the cheeks and made their significant others mad. I said words I shouldn’t have, and confessed things at the wrong times. I shared too much, gave too much, felt too much.
There was just an overflowing amount of love in my heart, so many words to say, so many bear hugs and embraces and smiles to share.
I’ve never been good at loving just a little. I’ve always been all in, or nothing. I’ve always given my full heart away.
Maybe it’s a flaw, that I see the best in people, and that I only want to give my full heart. But maybe it’s a blessing, because I’ve never been empty, even if I’m not always filled by the same love in return.
But the scary thing is, I don’t know how to give anything less than full love.
I don’t know how to lie about what my heart is feeling, or tip-toe around my emotions as if I’m indifferent. I don’t know how to pretend I don’t care about a person, or I’m not longing for their kiss. I’m not sure how to act like I don’t need love once I’ve fallen for someone.
I can’t just shut off the faucet and let my love run slowly, drip by drip. It all happens out of control, like I left the water on, full force, relentless and persistent.
I’m not capable of controlling the way I feel, or loving just a teeny bit and not completely. There’s no such thing as half-love, or part-love, or loving a little less, just to take it easy.
I can’t take it easy with this heart of mine.
I’m like a child with her arms open, not knowing the difference between a friend and a stranger, not afraid of how things will go or if she will get broken, but embracing love because that’s all she knows.
That’s all I’ve known—to love loudly, to be unafraid.
So when it comes to the way our generation dates, with rules and restrictions, with ‘talking’ vs. relationships, with romance vs. having ‘a thing,’ I’ve decided I’m done. I’m embracing this heart of mine, this heart that loves and loves uninhibitedly. I don’t know how to change the way I feel, the way I love and let people in.
I’ve never been good at loving a little, so I’m won’t.
I’ll love big and loud and with everything I have. Because nothing else in this world is as wonderful, as terrifying, as beautiful, and as life-changing as being the guardian of someone else’s heart.