UNITED STATES—Love. Think about that word for a second. Yeah, it might be a four-letter word, but it is one of the hardest words to describe if you were to ask someone. Love is the quintessential thing that no matter what race, gender, Ethnicity, religion, sex, social class you fall into we all thrive for it. So I have to ask the question how often do you utilize the word ‘love’ with the people you’re closet to?

I have to admit I rarely do so, and it got me thinking this week, I need to be more thankful for those individuals in my life who I can rely and count on when I’m placed in situations that I least expect. When I think of the word love, the best way for me to describe it is a “feeling that overtakes your emotions and makes it difficult to respond in many cases.”

Love is not limited solely to your wife, girlfriend, husband, boyfriend, it applies to anyone and everyone that you care about; those that you share deep connections to, people who are part of your life and if they weren’t it would cause a great amount of grief. Family is just as important, but for some reason many of us fail to recognize this until it’s too late. I mean be honest, when is the last time you told your mother, your father, your brother, your sister, your niece, your nephew, your grandparents, your aunt, your uncle or your cousin that you ‘loved’ them?

It’s a tough question, and if we’re being honest with one another, I haven’t echoed those words as often as I should. It’s shameful for me to even admit that, but I have realized that I’m taking advantage of the people that I care about by not letting them know how important they are to me and to my life. When we’re younger we utilize the word ‘love’ without hesitation, and what is so great about hearing kids tell their parents and people in their family that they love them is the fact that its genuine; you can tell that its sincere and they really mean it. It comes from the heart.

We as Americans tend to keep our emotions bottled up, way more than we should. The argument has been made that men tend to keep things inside more than women, and I must say to some degree that is true. Why? Well, we’ve been gendered that men should keep their emotions inside, and it’s okay for women to let their emotions out in the public sphere. Perhaps, if we were to see more depictions of men unleashing their emotions and talking about how they feel, more men would be okay doing it without wondering how they will be perceived.

If you love someone, you should be able and willing to express those emotions and do it because you know it’s important. Telling someone that you love them not only has an impact on the person who says it, but the person who receives it. The heart murmurs when you hear that; there is a phenomenal feeling that the person who receives it as well.

A bond that is already built becomes stronger when that four letter word is echoed. Yes, I’m not advocating utilizing that word to just utilize it; if you say it mean it, and as human beings we need to do it more than we already are. Love is universal we all want it, we all strive for it, and the more you share it, the more you receive it.