Love is everywhere in life, whether it be a term casually thrown around in friendly conversations or silent promises to oneself or another. As a child, it used to be something I’d say frequently, whether it was during dinner, after piano recitals or just plain old family get-togethers. Now, as a high schooler, love seems to be more reserved— though unsaid, we acknowledge its presence in our everyday lives.
Maybe we’re all a little afraid of love; as we grow older, we find ourselves saying it less, fearing what it might do to a friendship or even just an acquaintance, just because of potential awkwardness or embarrassment. As I’ve made more friendships and deepened existing ones, I’ve realized that love is taking that leap– those few moments of complete vulnerability to be true to myself and my feelings, and seeking those of others around me as well. As kids, we used to think that love was easy, holding dear to us our childhood idyll before feelings became complicated and cumbersome. As age reveals the world’s cruelty, its eternal struggles and its pitfalls, the love we recognize is found in the trials and the sacrifices we make to care for ourselves, each other and our ambitions.
As you grow older your perception of what love is changes quite significantly. Over my short 16 years on this planet, I’ve gathered that love is the little and big things in life that put a smile on your face. Love helps you to get through troubling times and enhances good moments. Ironically, it is something that is strong yet delicate, and it’s vital that you take the fragility in account when interacting with those you love. If you love a person, you treat them with respect and feel safe whenever they are in your presence–it’s okay to be vulnerable, as showing the ugly and beautiful to others is a significant part of love. With blooming friendships and relationships, listening to those who choose to place trust and heart into a connection with you is indispensable. Most of all, love is human, it exists within us all.
Personally, we were driven to write this article because of a lingering curiosity that sparked inside about how peoples’ interpretation of love changes when transitioning to adulthood. Instead of us trying to speak peoples’ truths, we asked elementary school students at Mound Elementary School and high school students at Foothill Tech High School to write down what love meant to them. In addition, we asked the elementary students what the difference between loving a person and an object were to get them to expand on what it means to love another human being versus loving material possessions.
The meaning of love according to elementary schoolers:
The meaning of love according to high schoolers:
All of the responses that we gathered truly encapsulated the power of love. The detailed, empowering words of the younger children captured that pure enjoyment of spending time with friends and family. From all of the students, the common theme of the irreplaceability of love was woven into incredibly meaningful responses. Respect and appreciation as a necessity for love was engraved into these heartfelt details. Though love enriches the human experience, the high school students also spoke about how love brings hardship and vulnerability that can sometimes be difficult to express. As people grow up, their ideas on what love is may fluctuate, but the importance of love always stays strong, steady and constant.