So often we hear stories about love. It is a word that slips easily off the tongue as if it is made of only the finest silk. It has become a mumbled concept that we poke fun at, the joke someone tiredly decided to crack at a birthday party because everyone has already memorized the punchline. Love, the deepest of all popular clichés, sits prominently upon pedestals within the stanzas of sappy high school poetry and in the elderly eyes of companions that have spent decades of their lives blooming in adoration. Love, the only child of fear and fearlessness, is the friend you invite to the party out of pity because your mother told you to. Yes, we are all drastically different people; from ethnicity to personality, and language to beliefs. Diversity is potent, harboring oceans of colorful ideas that define the nature of beauty itself. It keeps the human race buzzing with truth, extremely vital to the development of who we are all becoming. And just like ourselves, there exists many different kinds of love. Loving ourselves. Our families. Our friends. Our passions. Another person whose existence gives life itself infinite value. Each other. As people, we cannot be defined by labels. We cannot be packaged and wrapped into pretty little categories of where we fit solely based on the events of our pasts. We cannot only exist interpreted by where we have been and what we have seen. We are not just where we truly feel the most at home or what we choose to fill the empty space where the puzzle piece we have spent years searching for belongs. In fact, we are not just anything. You cannot define your worth by the way you sign your name, because when all is said and done, the only thing that is visible is the curvy loops in the way you penned the first letter with only ink and paper. No skin. No bone. No fight. No dream. The roads you have traveled to get to today’s destination do not matter as much as you think they should. A recovering alcoholic. The girl who survived an arduous battle with cancer. The teenage guy whose future feels impossible to decipher. A middle aged man who quit his job in order to seek true happiness. These are just fragments, broken glass pieces of who we are. Only a cropped, blurry photograph. Never the full picture. Love allows us to zoom out. Love permits us a chance to view the bigger picture, to expand our hearts in order to make sense of not only ourselves, but the chaos that has surrounded us for as long as we have been conscious enough to remember it. What does a sixteen year old girl of an uneventful town have to say about love that is so important or even worth the time of day to listen to? The answer, like ourselves, cannot be answered so simply. It sounds silly, unheard of, for a young woman of such a tender age to believe that she has the wisdom to understand the many facets of the foundations of love. However, there is so much electricity she has stored from the hands of time, the gifts of observation, and priceless experience to bleed out into words so that the people who told her she was too young to possibly understand a fraction of its meaning will realize that she did. She does. Or at least, she is beginning to. This one is for you. Perhaps you have been taught to treat love like a swear word, the estranged family member that disappeared from your household Christmas card collection. Perhaps you are trembling to experience it for yourself, rather than hearing what it must be like to hold the hand of a silhouette that does not desire only to let go. Perhaps you have spent years believing that love is only a feeling. Only positive. Only fluttery. Only romantic. It is not always such. It is a force that, much like a Category 5 hurricane, cannot be reckoned with. But “cannot” hardly ever resonates with “should not,” and so I beg you, that when the winds disturb the shutters, sometimes it is beneficial to keep the window open. Let love envelope you. Let it love you. Whether you like it or not, you are the home that will not crumble in the gentlest of breezes or the most treacherous of gusts. You are strong enough for love because that is what you are made of. Not just blood or tears or cheek-to-cheek grins. You are made of love. This package of love is the only category we should cease to be afraid of. Love, of all forms, is who we are.