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What Does the Word ‘Love’ Mean To You?

What Does the Word ‘Love’ Mean To You?
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“Love is a many splendored thing. Love lifts us up where we belong. All you need is love!”

Moulin Rouge – a movie all about love with their well-known quote, “the greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return”. The movie perfectly portrays how two people who were not allowed to be together would do everything in their willpower to love each other till they take their last breath.

That’s probably the general view of loving someone unconditionally that you would do everything and anything to be together. However, with over 7 billion people on this planet, not everyone will have the same definition. Love is a very diverse term. Everyone needs it in some way or another, and therefore, everyone has their own definition to what ‘love’ means to them.

Haikal, 12, Romantic, Adventurous

In my opinion, love is not how much you say ‘I love you’ but how much you can prove it’s true. It’s about how patient and kind you are, it does not include boasting, it is not how arrogant and rude you are.

Love means accepting a person with all their failures, stupidities, and their imperfection. For example, love means there is no more busy world, it’s always about priorities. You will always find times you feel the most important about.

So in conclusion, I think love is a variety of different feelings; it’s about accepting someone for who they are and have feelings and do whatever it takes to have their forgiveness or even their heart.

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Joseph, 21, Withdrawn Over-Thinker

I don’t believe in love at first sight. Attraction at first sight, yes. Affection at first sight, perhaps. But love?

Love, to me, rests on the same cline as companionship. And companionship is the foundation of love. Respect, understanding, and enthusiasm are the pillars on which this foundation is built – not initial attraction, not initial perception.

I suppose I am, to an extent, a victim of the ‘mere-exposure effect,’ in which a preference for someone or something comes with familiarity. I was close friends with my girlfriend for seven years before ‘asking her out,’ and I truly think that this friendship has served as an excellent point of reference over the last two years.

Therein lies the crux of my contention: love is not the gunshot signaling that the race has begun, but nor is it the feeling of crossing the finishing line. Love is the race – the journey – itself. Cliché? Yeah, sort of, but I do think it holds that the muddy concept of ‘love’ cannot be confined to the claustrophobic space of initial meeting, and this casts heavy doubts over the idea of love at first sight.

I respect but can’t identify with the desire for ‘one night stands’ or ‘wicked hooks,’ or whatever lingo is being used these days to denote seemingly frivolous dealings with a significant (or not so significant) other. It simply isn’t in my personality to consider such physical interaction to be so detached from emotional connection.

Of course, that’s not to say that love is static; it is an ever-changing construct, arbitrarily named and largely blurred at its edges. For some people, love at first sight might both exist and be fruitful, and I’m totally fine with that. In fact, let me make an amendment to my opening statement: I don’t believe in love at first sight for me.

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Love exists outside the realm of human relationships, but I think nuanced meaning clouds its existence. I love coffee, I love the fresh air, and I love poetry, but I’m not in love with them.

I am in love with my girlfriend.

Kirsty, 23, Secretly Sentimental

An important element of love is to love yourself. Accept yourself and embrace the parts of yourself that you don’t necessarily like about yourself. This is an important lesson in how to love someone else. If you love yourself, you can be more generous with the love you give to others. You find yourself feeling more fulfilled and more loved than you could possibly imagine. You’ll find yourself smiling at the thought of whoever it is that you find you love. Love means seeing flaws and accepting them as positive traits. You’ll feel a sense of completeness that you never knew you were lacking in the first place, and no matter how long you’ve been apart whether it be hours or months you’ll feel like you’re coming home.

Luke, 21, Avocado Enthusiast

To possess a true love for something, some place, some ideology or someone and feel the reciprocation is often perceived as a final hurdle on a pathway to utopia, ‘a hypothetical place or state of things where everything is perfect.’

If I were to use something as simple as an “avocado” as a representation of any human, object or place capable of being truly loved; love can be defined to me as the feelings you are overcome with when you stumble across one of these wonderful green oval-shaped specimens, one that is of perfect ripeness, far superior to any avocado you’ve found on the shelves before. So flawless that as your knife pierces through the delicate skin effortlessly leaving you two immaculate halves not only does your heart and mind constantly discover new boundaries of excitement but a level of contentedness and satisfaction settles in.

With a little feta cheese to accompany, all spread over the finest sourdough toast, and experienced in your own personal paradise, each bite brings forth feelings of invincibility and superiority that not a thing in the world can overcome the sheer happiness. I love avocados.

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Sarah, 14, Open-Minded and Exciting

What is love to me? Love is something unconditional and can’t really be explained in words. Of course, I’ve never experienced it yet, but it’s something I wish to feel in my lifetime.

The best way you can really say it is, it’s a feeling that you can’t shake, no matter how hard you try. The feeling when you love that special someone or something you can never live without. The feeling to need them and protect them.

Love is when you look at that person, and your heart accelerates, you get goosebumps. Every time you touch them you feel the electricity radiating off the both of you. You can never feel selfish with them and sacrifice anything or everything if it means you can be with them for the rest of your life. It’s when that person makes you happy no matter how you’re feeling. No matter the gender, ethnicity or person.

But love isn’t easy, it comes with consequences and sacrifices that if you are willing to make you know you’ve found the right someone/something.

I know very few people who are truly, deeply, and madly in love with each other, and let me tell you every time I see that it gives me the shred of hope that there actually might be someone out there for me.

So that’s what love is to me. How bout you?

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Sharvin, 19, Dog Lover

Everyone at a pinnacle point in their life has experienced love regardless if they were loved or have been loved. It’s an inevitable feeling that captures the heart with full on passion, infatuation, and desire. It comes in all sorts of forms like with family, friends or an intimate love. In my experience, love “feels so good but hurts so bad”, I went through many amazing memories of my life with the women I love but at the end, it will either end up a fairytale or just like a wrecking ball being swung at you at immense pace.

My love generally lies in the animal kingdom. Such exquisite creatures roaming on our planet for millions of years and have been proven a predominant significance. Dogs are my favorite, especially pugs, golden retrievers, shih tzu, and corgi’s! I have a pet dog that, in all honesty, feels like another younger sibling. Their presence is a remedy for sadness or stress; they will be there through your ups and downs, which clearly defines the term, “dogs are a man’s best friend”. They may be a little annoying at times when it comes to barking or pooping all over the house but hey they are not as privileged as humans to have an intellect.

Marina, 20, Classic and Eclectic

To me, love is the most powerful thing on this planet. It can make you go crazy, feel every emotion a human ought to feel all mixed together, it can make you sick, and it can also make you feel more alive than anything ever can. Whether it’s loving yourself or loving someone else (or even loving an idea or a thing), it will consume you and make you feel infinite.

To me, I know that love is the greatest thing out there – that without it, we are nothing. Something that pushes you to achieve it, no matter what others say or who stops you. It’s the happiness it can bring you when you’re feeling down and once taken away, that’s when you feel like everything has gone to hell.

To be frank, it is dangerous to love, but it’s a risk you should be willing to take. Love so deeply it overwhelms you. Once you fall in love with something or someone, you’ll know it. Trust me on this. It may take time, but it’ll be worth it. You just need to find your star.

Featured photo credit: Susanne Nilsson via flickr.com

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More by this author

NOORMARINA ANWAR

Student, Monash University

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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