Do you really love me?

I’ve always been disturbed by how casually people will say “I love you.”

I was first struck by the increasingly callous social attitude towards this phrase when I downloaded Instagram for the first time. There, nestled in the comments, I spotted various iterations of the phrase when someone left a compliment on another’s post: “love you,” “ily” and “i <3 u” were the most common. 

“But you barely talk to this person,” the voice inside my head whispered when I read such epithets.

Such contradictions were abundant. I found that people would casually drop the “love youuu” in text messages when they wanted something I could give them — class notes, homework help, food, fleeting emotional support — yet, their actions rarely mirrored their words. These same individuals would become strangers in the school hallway, walking past me without so much as a glance of acknowledgment. 

Maybe that’s why vocal professions of love ring hollow to me unless they are backed by action — because showering someone with praise and admiration one day and then casting them away from your graze the next, I know that cannot be love. 

When I transitioned to college, I found that the words gained more meaning when it was said by those living near me, as we buoyed each others’ spirits through the difficult toils that inevitably dawn during one’s first year of college — navigating challenging academic work and the struggles of managing responsibilities on your own for the first time.

Words are important to me. As someone who loves to express the tides of her soul with the seductive power of words, I weigh words heavily. A letter holds the power to transform a word; a word holds the power to transform a sentence; and a sentence holds the power to transform someone’s life. Simple criticisms — even those uttered jokingly — can grip my mind in the throes of nighttime, haunting me with agonizing musings over my self-worth, while compliments made in passing can induce new passions swallowing my free time.

And so, when I find that people’s words don’t match their actions, I am disturbed. Because I love words. And sticking by your word is love. 

As I am growing older, however, I am discovering that people love in different capacities — that sometimes when people say “I love you” but forget the little things, they’re loving me in the best way they know how.

 But that love doesn’t always feel like love to me. 

As I reflect on my perceptions of love, I think many of my beliefs are rooted in the fact that I grew up in an immigrant household, where love was rarely in the air in a typical sense. Tied down by the anxieties of simply making it another day and carving a life in an unfamiliar place from where home was so far away, my parents didn’t have time for grand professions of love. 

Yet, I could feel the love everywhere. It was abundant in all the little things they did — all the feelings of warmth and affection that they left unsaid, yet not unconfessed.

I could feel the love in the 16-hour plane trip that my dad took on my sister’s sixth birthday to surprise us. 

I could feel the love in the journal my mom bought for me, decorated with turquoise blue birds and bright pink flowers, when she discovered that I liked to write 

I could feel the love in the way my little sister stuffed her head into my side, hiding from the camera as she wobbled through the awkward bends of being a girl. 

The love we experience from our families lays the blueprint for the love we seek as fulfillment throughout the rest of our lives. This love is the love that teaches us how to feel love, how to give love and how to receive love. 

Often, we find ourselves yearning for the love that we see in other’s lives. Maybe a friend’s parents are taking her to her dream vacation spot for her birthday. Or maybe her sister showers her with hugs and kisses all the time, like you so wish yours would do. And when we look back into our own lives, we feel empty and deprived. 

Yet, I find that often, our struggle rests not in the fact that we are unloved but that we are unable to understand the multitude of ways in which we are loved. 

I don’t mean to imply that our individual needs and desires have no merit. Of course, you should communicate openly with the people in your life if their actions are consistently falling short of honoring your self-worth. 

But this Valentine’s Day, I challenge you to meet the people who love you where they are. Make the trip to visit your grandmother this summer, as you’ve promised to do for years. Drink the concoction your sister invents when you come home. Watch the romantic comedy your best friend keeps begging you to see with her. 

Because love is everywhere. And it’s up to us to feel it in the air.

Advikaa Anand is a Trinity sophomore. Her columns typically run on alternating Thursdays.

Advikaa Anand | Opinion Managing Editor

Advikaa Anand is a Trinity sophomore and an opinion managing editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.


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