I’ve always been sort of afraid to love people.

This is not a post about romantic relationships. That’s the last thing I care about at this point in my life. I mean friendships. Family. People I interact with on a daily basis. People I meet on the street. I have always been afraid to love those people, to care about them, to invest in them. I don’t mean love in the abstract – I think I’ve always had that.

But when you really love people – when you talk to them, when you spend your days with them, when you give them pieces of yourself by giving them your thoughts and your time – they usually hurt you.

That sounds irrational, but they do. Some people hurt you intentionally, and those are the type I’ll never understand. Some people hurt you accidentally, usually when you love them more than they love you. And the vast majority of people hurt you when life moves on, the way it does, and for whatever reason you still love them but you can’t call them “friend” anymore.

But in the past couple of months, I’ve been thinking about the difference between awake and alive.

You can be alive and make it through without attachments and do the easy things. You can eat and sleep and walk without joy and avoid everything that scares you.

But if you’re going to be awake you have to love people. You have to really love with them, open your heart to them and explain all the reasons you adore them. You have to live every day wrapped up in the knowledge that yes, these people are going to hurt you or leave you someday. And you have to be okay with that, reconciled with that.

When you stop avoiding the truth that you’re going to die someday, you affirm life. And when you stop avoiding the truth that people are going to fail you, you affirm love.