Love is such an interesting thing. I sit here in Africa filled with various new experiences and thoughts, and yet all I can still really think about is love, what it means and what it does to us.
I’ve been bound by fear. I’ve been terrified to write about my latest love story (even in my personal journal) for fear that it will just turn to shambles like all the others did. Love is repetitive, and yet, each time it feels entirely different and new. You feel scared and excited and like you’re learning a brand new language. You realize that statements that previously came across as negative, spiteful or even hurtful are now statements that are funny, filled with adventure and laughter. You break all the rules of your previous language and realize that with this new language, you’re allowed to do this and that, say these things and feel this way. They’re allowed to express themselves in this new way, too. The thing with fear, though, is that it prevents you from becoming fluent. I’ve been stuttering my way through conversations with people in my very broken French. I’ve been scared to speak too loud, for fear of putting my thoughts and heart on the line, only to be corrected or nagged by how I’m saying things all wrong. I try, but fear always win, and as long as this fear sticks around, I’ll never be able to properly speak French. I’ll never understand the language, the way it sounds, the way it feels in a heated debate or in a peaceful and loving conversation. As long as I live in fear, I’ll never know the way it feels to fully express myself and live to my fullest and freest potential. And this is just like love.
Love is beautiful and complex. There are certain rules and then there are some things that you can say or do differently. You can’t love if you’re bound by fear. You can’t fully appreciate things or express things or feel things if you are too scared to open your heart. It makes you vulnerable. They may take things the wrong way or think you’re implying certain things when in fact that’s not at all what you said, or at least not at all what you meant to say. Love is challenging and stretches you. It excites you when you’ve finally got it and absolutely destroys you when you lose it. It takes practice. It takes patience and persistence and even takes trial and error. When love is pure and right, it allows you to be the best version of yourself. It’s the exact right dialogue and dialect. It becomes natural and flows off your tongue in just the right way. Love can be intimidating and sometimes feel impossible. But love is real, and with the right recipe of timing, vulnerability and the right person whom you can express yourself to, it is one of the greatest things we will ever feel and know. It’s the reason we all live: to belong, to feel capable and successful, valued and purposeful, to feel loved.
And so here I sit in Africa on my last day. Yesterday, one of the ladies traveling with me mentioned that I was indeed speaking French. I realized, oui, je parle français, and I no longer feel afraid. How much more beautiful my French sounded since I had forgotten my fear and decided to let myself go, to express myself fully. Sometimes it still feels difficult and verbs are coming out all wrong, but when I get it, when I say the sentence and it comes out naturally, it feels amazing, it feels invigorating, it feels fulfilling.