Love. Sometimes I can’t put into words how incredible it is. The feeling your heart gets when you open your door and see them standing there, the jump in your stomach at their text or call, the lightness of your feet when you walk next to them, the warmth in your whole body when you wake up and realize they’re fast asleep, softly breathing next to you.
To love and to be in love, romantically—that’s a powerful mess of emotions and connection. There’s nothing quite like it.
But romantic love isn’t the only form of love.
There’s the love you feel when you curl up on the couch and your pet snuggles at your feet. The love you have for your sister, watching her cross the stage, college diploma in hand. The love you feel in your chest when you hear your mother’s voice on the telephone, or watch your father’s brow furrow as he bends over the hood of your smoking car.
There’s the love you feel for your best friend when she says exactly what you’re thinking, or when he throws his arm around you and makes you feel like you’ve come back home after being lost.
There’s the love you have for silly things, like emotional movies, the sunset, the sound of laughter, or the first bite of the food you’ve been craving that honestly just makes you want to cry because it’s so good.
There’s the love that tugs at your heart when you smell an old quilt and are reminded of your late grandmother, or shrug on your uncle’s old jersey and can picture the laugh lines in his cheeks.
Love comes in so many forms and blesses us in so many ways. So if you’re feeling empty from a lack of a life partner, a forever person, a bf/gf, an ‘always,’ know this: Your happiness is not contingent on who you’re in a relationship with.
Your happiness is not measured by who you have, or haven’t kissed. Your joy is not determined by your relationship status. The smile on your face is not dependent upon whether you have someone’s hand to hold.
Romantic love is not a measure of whether or not your life is full.
Sometimes the world puts pressure on us. We see diamond rings in catalogs and elaborate proposals on TV. We watch the people we love fall into the arms of someone else. We hear about celebrity crushes tying the knot, or our friends being ‘so in love.’
We wonder if there’s something wrong with us, we get anxious, we start to measure our own levels of success and positivity on the relationship we have, or lack thereof. And we somehow convince ourselves that we can only be happy when we’re with someone.
But that isn’t true.
Happiness is borne of experience, of self-love, of taking in the world and what it has to offer. Happiness stems from friendships, from platonic love, from appreciating what and who we’ve been given, and spending time with people who care for us in ways that go even deeper than romantic.
Happiness is about finding who we are and loving that person, trying new things and discovering what makes us feel full, saying ‘yes’ to adventures, being selfish until we find a reason not to be.
Happiness is not about whether we’re loved by someone else romantically, but about how we love ourselves, our lives, our world.
So if you’re wondering when you’ll find love, if you’re banging your head against the wall, frustrated and tired with the dating scene, if you’re agonizing over your past, wondering what you could have done differently to make someone stay, don’t.
Life is too short to base your smile on whether or not you’re with someone else. It’s too short to waste being unhappy that you haven’t found ‘the one’ yet.
Romantic love, though beautiful, will come and go. You will fall into people; you will fall apart. You will promise forever; you will let go. You will get your heart broken, but you will learn to trust again.
And one day, you’ll find the person who lights you up.
But until then, remember that happiness is found in living your life, in chasing what you’re passionate about, in following your dreams, in working your butt off at a career or job, in spending time with friends and family, in taking time to cross items off your to-do list, in taking solo trips, in being yourself.
In celebrating what you do have, and not worrying about what you don’t.