When it comes to love, most people believe you only have two choices—either you play the part of the Knight in Shining Armor and travel halfway around the globe to find it, or you wait around patiently for love to come knocking as the Damsel in Distress would, in the topmost room of the highest tower.
What most people fail to realize is that there is a middle ground between the two extremes. Love is not something you can find in the same way you find a lost pen or the perfect white tee; neither is it something that will just fall into your lap while you are sitting on a park bench on a bright sunny day. Love requires a balance between initiative and fate, and is much like your favorite song: you listen to it, sing along, and keep it playing. Read on to realize that love truly is all around!
Love Source: Your Folks
Listen to it: Mom and Dad are always on your case. When they're not telling you to clean your room, they're telling you to help your little sister with her art project. When they're not telling you that your skirt is too short for the family dinner, they're telling you your hair is too long for the yearbook shoot. Before you tune them out again, think about this: would anyone really use up that much time and effort on you if they didn't care?
Sing along: Instead of waiting to be given orders, why don't you take the initiative? Eventually, they'll see that you're mature and responsible enough, and that you can be trusted to make your own decisions and go at your own pace.
Keep it playing: Parents need rest and relaxation too, especially with all the stress you intentionally and unintentionally put them through. Don't wait for a special occasion—surprise them with breakfast in bed on a Sunday morning, just because. Raising you is a full-time job, and they deserve a break once in a while.
Love Source: Your BFFs
Listen to it: Your friends are cool, but you barely have anything in common. Chrissy likes Panic! At the Disco, you like Rihanna. Janine likes Haruki Murakami, you like Mitch Albom. Beatrice is into every sport known to mankind, you hate getting sweaty and dirty. Being friends with people who are total opposites of you can be tough, but would you really prefer to be friends with people who are your exact replicas?
Sing along: Loving someone means accepting that person for who she is. Agree to disagree; who cares if you have different taste in movies, or if you have different ways of spending your Friday nights? What's important is that you make your presence felt through the little things, like an encouraging smile, a shared joke, or a shoulder to cry on.
Keep it playing: Despite the beauty of embracing each other's individuality, having a heterogeneous set of friends will only work up to a certain point. Your values and priorities should more or less be the same, and you have the responsibility of helping each other become the best you can be. If Chrissy is lying to her parents to sneak around with her boy, or Janine is slacking off in school and getting into trouble all the time, it is your duty as a good friend to speak up and do something. Remember that accepting someone unconditionally never equates to stepping aside and letting that person make a mess of her life.
Love Source: Your Boy
Listen to it: So you're crushing on the MVP of your school's basketball team, which is fine, if not for the fact that it takes up so much of your time that you fail to notice that Tim, who's been your friend since kindergarten, has been paying extra attention to you for months. Last week, when you flunked your Chemistry exam, he showed up at your doorstep, ready to cheer you up with cookie dough ice cream and a big warm hug. Although it may not sound like the stuff fairy tales are made of, the very best romances ARE born from the very best friendships.
Sing along: Don't be scared if you realize you like him back. Yes, it will be a bit weird at first, but if you care for each other enough, you'll find a way to get past the awkwardness. Don't be afraid of change. The technicalities of your relationship will be different (he'll go from calling you "dude" to "sweetie"), but the fundamentals—the way you know each other better than anyone, the way you can spend hours talking and making each other laugh—should remain the same.
Keep it playing: Romantic love isn't always about candlelit dinners and grand gestures. After the first few kilig dates, go back to your steady routine. Hang out at the mall after school, run errands for your 'rents, or do homework together. Just because you're a couple now doesn't mean you have to stop being friends.
Love Source: Your Foes
Listen to it: Your cranky English teacher, the bossy class president—you think these people were created for the sole purpose of making your life miserable. Everybody has a good side, and maybe it's time you saw theirs. Your English teacher might have developed a love for literature in you, and your class president might have stood up for you and your classmates more than once. Focus on their strengths, not on their weaknesses.
Sing along: Treat them with kindness and generosity and you will find that they will treat you the same way. Don't give them a hard time just because you have pre-conceived notions of them. At the end of the day, it's still about respect.
Keep it playing: Every time you find yourself disliking or judging someone, remember this: No matter what the circumstances, no matter how mean or insensitive you think people are being towards you, filling your heart with negativity is completely your call. Hate, like love, is always a choice.
This article originally appeared in the January-February 2008 issue of Candy Magazine.