Love in your life

February 22, 2024   ·   0 Comments

By Alba Zalli

The following column was submitted by Alba Zalli, a high school.

Growing into a teenager, I’ve noticed our society’s fixation with romantic love. There is a subtle assumption that being in a relationship makes someone more valuable and interesting. People seem to focus on the importance of marriage and partnerships as an essential step to self worth. I also see this idea maintained in the media, where the main character risks everything for a love interest that swoops in to solve all their problems, essentially completing them.  These thoughts can be potentially harmful to self esteem and mental wellbeing if you feel alone or don’t happen to have a special partner.

The belief of needing another to complete yourself traces back to the ancient Greeks. Plato described the true human form as having four arms, two genders,

split apart by Zeus to endure a lifetime of separation. Modern Western society adapts

this philosophy to a detrimental effect, asserting that if someone can’t find their “better half” it

reflects on their own worth. The word “amatonormativity” means the assumption that someone

must pursue a long term, monogamous relationship to be fully-realized. This concept highlights the moment where romantic love is placed on a pedestal over other aspects and relationships in life.

On a personal scale, I feel this creates a false correlation between romantic

relationships and how a person sees or feels their worth. This kind of thinking may potentially harm anyone who does not have a partner.  Not everyone is in this specific romantic type of relationship at all points of their life. The result of focusing only on romantic love in one’s life might be damaging to people’s mental wellness.

These expectations are especially evident around Valentine’s Day, amplified by shiny

advertisements and display stand chocolate boxes. At this point I wonder, ‘if these assumptions

about romantic love are not reflective of everyone’s reality, why let it dictate our self-worth?’ On Valentine’s Day, if you felt that you were judging yourself, think about the source of your sentiments. Take stock of the love that exists in your life in more than the romantic sense. Even though the word “relationship” holds a romantic connotation, a relationship is a connection you hold with anything in your life. You could acknowledge the love carried in your familial relationships with parents, guardians, grandparents, siblings, cousins, children, or any other relatives. Familial love for some might also encompass a chosen family. People you choose to spend time with and love.  Where you feel comfortable and valued.

Platonic love can be discovered in friendships, bonds formed over time. There are also relationships that exist beyond these boundaries that are important to many people; Queerplatonic relationships or relationships without labels provide a deep source of love that is supportive and fulfilling.

I encourage you to think about all the people you love in these different ways, and understand the value these connections give your life. Relationships don’t have to exist between you and another person either. You can have a relationship with a piece of media, a hobby, a place in nature, a pet, or a memory. These relationships govern your connection to the world, enriching your life everyday. A great depth of love that exists in yourself. Everyone deserves to care for and love themselves as they exist in the present moment. This type of love is the most valuable of them all.

When considering the diverse spectrum of love, romantic love only makes up

a small fragment of all relationships someone has. I encourage you to celebrate the love you

carry for the world, relationships, and yourself. This love enriches your life, and is only part of what defines you. Celebration can take any form you decide. Buy a present for a dear relative. Spend time with a pet. Take time to care for yourself. Or don’t do any of these things.

The point is, you can determine your life’s path or milestones. You are valuable,

you are loved, and you deserve to live life the way you want to.

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