They say love is a beautiful—that’s what I believed as a child, that’s what I learned to be true, that’s what I imagined when I watched movies or flipped through magazines or saw people older than me exchanging glances across a crowded room. Love was always enticing—the way two strangers learned one another, the connection of two seemingly separated people becoming one—I wanted that one day. I wanted someone I could call mine. I wanted it to be real.
But what I’ve learned in falling and breaking, what I’ve learned in sharing pieces of myself with someone else, what I’ve learned in losing someone I thought was my forever, and then finding the reason it never worked out in the arms of someone else is this: love is not always beautiful.
But even when it hurts, it’s still so damn worth it.
Love is messy kitchen countertops. It’s dirty dishes in the sink, it’s tears running down your cheeks trying to salvage burnt enchiladas and drinking wine straight from the bottle when date night becomes a disaster. It’s waking up in the middle of the night and asking your person why they love you, or if they still love you, or if they will continue to love you no matter what.
Love is mud on the rug by the front door. It’s windows left open when the air conditioner’s on, it’s arguments about the toilet seat and damp towels on the bathroom floor. It’s silliness and inside jokes. It’s fighting over what to get for dinner, stressing over unpaid bills, and compromising by leaving the overhead light on because she’s scared even though it makes it harder to fall asleep.
Love is holding his hand when he’s doubled over with pain, or hold her hair back when she’s sick. It’s waking up to morning breath, forgiving her when she’s hangry, listening to him talk about work even when it’s two in the morning and you’re exhausted.
Love is visit’s to the doctor’s office, it’s battling the tough moments together, it’s facing the impossibly difficult times in your life with mess and grace and unconditional love, even when you don’t have the answers.
Love is fighting for one another, loving one another, in every moment you have.
Love is the messiness of two people trying to be what one another needs, even when that’s hard. Even when things fail. Even when life hands you problems you don’t know what to do with.
Love is thousands of tiny moments—exhausting, frustrating, wonderful, and inconsequential—that build a connection that’s beyond temporary.
I used to think love would be this solution, this answer to something I’d been searching for—that when I finally found the ‘right person’ everything would just fall into place. I used to believe love would make sense all the time—that all the empty pieces of myself would be found in the arms of someone who chose me.
But what I’ve learned is love is not a solution, love is not everything, and you can’t expect love to fill you; yet it’s still so worth believing in.
Finding someone isn’t about falling into a perfect relationship, but discovering someone who is just as messy, and creating a life together—one that’s complicated and yet incredible all the same.
Real love is hard. It’s challenge and fear and fighting and choosing one another, even when you don’t want to, even when it sucks.
It’s learning to love someone, to let them in, even as both of you change and grow. It’s becoming better and stronger versions of yourself, but through a difficult (and often painful) process. It’s falling for someone who will inevitably make mistakes, inevitably leave this earth.
But it’s realizing how incredibly worthwhile it is to fall headfirst anyways.
Love is about searching for meaning and finding that meaning alongside someone else. It’s about deciding to love one another, whether your story is magical or falling apart at the seams. Love is about facing the impossible, the inevitable, even the end—but doing so hand-in-hand.
Real love is not what I pictured as a child, not the ideal, the answer. But it’s still so beautiful.
Learning someone, letting someone in, loving and being loved despite your imperfection, and saying ‘yes’ to that person no matter what happens—that’s what real love is.
And to me, that’s so damn worth it.