“I just wanna look more like love.”

Two of my friends made Instagram posts within a few days of each other on very similar topics. They don’t know each other, but it was something that really struck me: two people, who I really admire and respect, giving their take on the idea of love. It’s been a couple weeks since, and I haven’t stopped thinking and reflecting about both the posts.

A photo I took back in 2013 in Berlin, Germany that I later learned featured this couple.

Jeremy Spangler is a good friend of mine, and a former coworker. He’s not only an incredible photographer, but an absolutely breathtaking writer. He uses a lot of his Instagram to post thoughts tied to captivating photos. While so many of his writings truly resonate with me, this one got me that was posted with a photo of two friends he hiked with:

I don’t know that I believe in falling in love. Sorry Disney, it just seems too easy. I believe in infatuation, but infatuation doesn’t get you through a thousand miles of biking up and down mountains, sleeping on the side of the road in a tinny tent and eating jars and jars of peanut butter. Infatuation doesn’t give you the patience to teach someone how to skip a rock, that’s love. Love is where infatuation with all of its wonder meets darkness or difficult and stops, infatuation fears, it hurts, it aches, it pains, and then it keeps riding. Infatuation is a feeling, a great one: love is a thousand million choices to be present with another person: physically, emotionally, spiritually. I guess I don’t know these two all that well, but I marvel at their relationship. They remind me of my parents, they are friends before lovers, and their love is stronger for it.

I’ve always struggled with companionship. It’s my greatest desire, making it my greatest fear. I often feel inadequate in romantic relationships, I have this obsessive need for perfect and love is presence in spite of imperfection.

I hope one day to love like these two, like my parents. It’s hard work. It’s a hundred choices a day, but next time I’ll put my fear aside and bike on.

I’ve always described myself as being a person who “falls fast and falls hard.” I’ve been known to love more than the other party involved, and to be almost overwhelming in how much I display and practice love. But sometimes I often wonder where the line rests for me between love and infatuation. I’ve been infatuated with guys before, absolutely. I even sometimes wonder if my infatuation gets pushed so far that it becomes disguised as love. I, much like Jeremy, fear that I’m inadequate in relationships, and wonder if my strive to show my love for the other person (as a sort of approval or validation for them and myself) is simply a shaded infatuation. Perhaps I’m always so overcome with love that I don’t allow to see the clear signs that they too don’t possess it; maybe at that time, it’s not truly love from me because it’s merely infatuation. I even wonder if sometimes the reasons why my past relationships haven’t succeeded is because while I had love, they only had infatuation. Yet, despite the fear, I always find a way to reopen my heart and try again because I’m hopeful.

From Jeremy’s Instagram, @jeremiahspangler

Victoria Quirk is a recent new friend of mine. We met through Instagram through a mutual love of handlettering, coffee, cats, and travel. I’m pretty sure this gal and I are actually the same person, just living two different lives, and I’m excited to get to know her more. On a recent selfie uploaded, she wrote:

Here is a recent photo of myself that I like. Lately, I have been learning over and over again how useless it is to chase love, approval, and affection from others. Sometimes it’s hard to be “single”. Sometimes I feel like maybe I’m a little less loved than my friends who are dating or married. But I refuse to place my identity in a relationship status. I am so much more than a word. And I am not loved less. Just differently. And I’m grateful, because my goodness I have so much love around me. Friends, do the best you can, pour love out on others, and (as cheesy as it sounds) be in love with yourself. You are already enough and the right people will show up and stay, I promise.

Let’s be honest, I think any of us who are single have those moments where we feel down about not having a significant other. Overall, I’ve never let it bother me much because I’ve always had so many other things to focus on: creating art, planning roadtrips with friends, discovering as much music as I can. However, I remember being at a point in my life when I longed for love from significant others as a sort of approval. I felt constantly rejected, and couldn’t figure out what was “wrong” with me, and what were the reasons behind keeping me from getting to experience all the joys of “love” ? But over time, I learned the importance of self-love and self-acceptance; I learned that “love” is defined and displayed in many different ways. We can have love, we can give love, and we can be loved. Most importantly, I’ve learned to not only give my love to myself, but to share it with everyone. I’ve learned to not only give love, but to be love.

From Victoria’s Instagram, @heyvictoriaq

Today, two of my coworkers also engaged in a conversation about the idea. Heather’s status initially began with, “If you love someone, tell them! Not sure if you love yourself? Learn how to.” and encouraged for everyone to let love become us. Colleen’s comment ended with talking about how it took her a long time to not feel ashamed or embarrassed for loving others and not feeling selfish for loving herself.

Both of these really spoke to me as well. Much of the similar points above, I was in a place for a long time where I didn’t know and understand that it’s difficult to love someone if you don’t even love yourself. I felt down about loving those who didn’t reciprocate, and felt a lot of negative feelings about how foolish I was for where I placed my love. Mostly, I just spent years being heartbroken: about people, about life.

But I learned that love really does comes in many different forms, and that love is what changes things. Love is what move mountains; love is what creates possibilities; love is what guides us.

Somebody once told me that their favorite quality about me was how much love I possess and instill in everything that I do and in everything & everyone around me. I never, ever want for that to change.

This whole world is spinning crazy, and I can’t quite keep up. It’s the one thing around here that we don’t have quite enough of so I just wanna look a little more like love.