True Love
Carmen Chasse, Division 3, College freshman #ws17e-s1d3

I have been in love approximately 2000 times. While you may be wondering how an 18-year-old girl could have possibly loved over 2000 people in her years, I’m most likely off somewhere falling in love all over again. From my perspective, one’s ability to fall in love is something of vital importance. I’ve come to realize that falling in love isn’t easy, and it takes optimism as well as acceptance of what you cannot change to do so. I am a hopeless romantic, falling in love left and right. I fall in love with books because they have beautiful covers although we’re always told not to judge them that way. I fall in love with boys for a mere 15 seconds because they have nice eyes, I fall in love with moments that have passed me by, and I fall in love with thoughts. Learning to love unconditionally has been something that I’ve always been good at, but three of the things I find myself loving the most are things that I did not always find easy to love.

When I was twelve years old, my parents split. As is the case for most, this time was especially hard for me. Being that I fall in love so easily, and being so young, I didn’t understand how such a thing could happen. To me, love had always seemed simple. But in this situation I was unsure of how to feel and what to do. While the actual divorce did in no way shape my perceptions of what love was because of my parent’s gracefulness in handling it, it did change how I loved. I loved both of my parents together, but how was I to love them differently now as individual units after viewing them as a team once they had split? Reflecting on this time in my life, I’m grateful for it. It pushed me to figure out what love really meant, as well as gave me stronger relationships with both of my parents. I know who my parents are as individuals, and they have both given me irreplaceable knowledge and experiences. This first true love of mine stems from an odd moment of fragmentation, but the true love I hold for my family is one that has grown and flourished as I’ve grown older and more comfortable with the concept of unconditional love and family. It is hard to love when you are hurt or upset, and it is hard to love where you don’t see hope approaching from any direction. But this ability to love despite the hardships shows my mental strength and optimism, as well as my acceptance of change.

In modern times, we are so focused on relationships with others that we leave ourselves behind. Often we get caught up in impressing others or taking care of them that we neglect our own needs and desires, forgetting how important it is to understand self-care. When I entered college, I struggled with self-love. I am always so busy falling in love with things that are foreign to me that I forget to appreciate the familiar. I had never previously been someone who struggled with self-confidence or truly reflected on greater purpose, but I found myself doing that. After this happened I began to take more time for myself and only focus on things that brought me joy, pushing myself towards happier thoughts and actions as opposed to those I knew would drag me down. The transition to college for me went smoothly, but it was hard to learn to love myself in an environment where I barely knew anyone well enough to confide in them and I felt alone. This situation taught me mental strength, and it taught me what it looks like to be kind and open when approaching myself and others.

My final love stems from my curiosity and my craving for change. I remember being little, I was always asked what I wanted to do when I grew up. All I would say is that I wanted to help people, which is part of nearly every occupation you could ever think of. Coming into the college environment where I am free to explore and make mistakes has allowed me to discover that my love for helping is focused on human rights. With all the loving I’ve done and received, I’ve recognized that love is a human right. Everyone has the capacity to love and be loved, and I only want others to have the chance to find whatever it is they love. Whether that be a religion, job, place, or another human being, they deserve the opportunity. I believe in the human spirit and its potential to do great and powerful things if given the chance. I am passionate about learning how we interact with and understand our world, and I am passionate about people. I am in love with people, and I am in love with helping those people find what it is they love.

As an individual, I have gained important skills and knowledge through my experiences. I have gained mental strength and compassion, as well as discovered my need to inquire. I am capable of great kindness and understanding because of how hard I have worked to develop my capacity to love. Many people may disagree that falling in love easily is not a positive thing. They may view it as a weakness, as a foolish act. For me, my capability to love is my greatest strength because of all it has brought me. It takes strength to love unconditionally and recklessly, and it takes courage to through caution in to the wind in doing so. I have never been afraid to love, and because of it, I have grown.

Being granted the opportunity to study abroad would allow me to explore not only the world, but myself. Going abroad and being able to examine these issues on a personal level would enhance my understanding of people, politics, and the world. In addition to its fit with both of my majors, I would be able to return home with an amazing experience under my belt that would assist me in many instances later in life. I believe that on a personal level, this trip would push me out of my comfort zone in the best way. I would be pushed to learn and explore new things, meet new people, and change my own personal views, which can be a scary thing. I want to learn about the world and myself while doing what I love, which is understanding and helping those around me. Anthropology and international relations are both topics very close to my heart, and I hope to use my knowledge in these areas to influence the world around me. My hope with this trip is the same hope that I often find myself circling back to, and the one that can be the hardest and easiest simultaneously. I hope that I will fall in love, and I hope that this trip can be my platform to do so. It is possible to love anything, anyone, or anywhere. Love contains infinite possibilities that are unbeknownst even to those who study it. My greatest hope with this experience is to spread love and experience it in ways I do not yet know. I may have been in love over 2000 times, and I may only have 3 true loves, but the greatest thing about love is that it knows no bounds. I want the opportunity to discover my 4th true love in an environment where it is easy to fall in love with everything, and I want to be adventurous, passionate, and out of my comfort zone in doing so. All I can ever ask from myself and from others is that they do what they love, and this is what I am asking of myself.
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