The Courage To Love

The fear of unrequited love drives many of us to prioritize control over connection, leading to cycles of superficial interactions and a world where love is elusive, its impostors are celebrated, and its healing potential is stifled.

The Courage To Love
Love is always in style.

The Worst She Could Say is 'No'!

I wish I'd told my mother that I loved her more often while she was living. In one of the last conversations we had before she passed, she disclosed to me how much it hurt her that my brothers and I stopped telling her that we loved her when we were little. Communicating love verbally was never common in my family, especially after adolescence, and it was something that I also wished I had experienced more of growing up. From how my mom posed it, you'd think that she kept telling us that she loved us but we just didn't say it back. But that's not how it happened at all. She also stopped telling us she loved us once we hit a certain age and when I asked her why that was, she said something to the effect of, "Because y'all stopped saying it to me!"

I find it really strange how someone can create a little human in their body, carry that human for nine months, birth that human in one of the most painful processes known to man, and then feel uncomfortable telling that human that you love them because you are unsure if it's reciprocated. This exchange with my mother made it apparent to me just how scary it is to love, even if the object of your love came directly from your own body. I'm sure my mother understood on some level that, as kids, we didn't have the emotional maturity to understand the importance of communicating our love to her verbally and that she, as the adult, should have taken the initiative to create a culture in our household that loved out loud. But what kept her from doing so was fear. Fear that maybe her kids didn't love her back. Fear that, despite all that she'd sacrificed to bring us into the world, her attempt to create humans that loved her may have been in vain.

In doing research for this month's newsletters, I discovered the top 10 most common fears among humans (though these vary from source to source). In case you're curious, they are:

  • Arachnophobia - Fear of spiders.
  • Ophidiophobia - Fear of snakes.
  • Acrophobia - Fear of heights.
  • Agoraphobia - Fear of open or crowded spaces.
  • Cynophobia - Fear of dogs.
  • Astraphobia - Fear of thunder and lightning.
  • Claustrophobia - Fear of small, enclosed spaces.
  • Mysophobia - Fear of germs or dirt.
  • Aerophobia - Fear of flying.
  • Trypophobia - Fear of holes or patterns with small holes.
What's your biggest fear?

Reading this list really surprised me, not because I think these aren't valid fears, but because I don't think any of them are more prevalent than the fear of unrequited love, and the only evidence I need to support my theory is the current state of the world. I feel that love is the most desired thing in the Universe, but because the idea of wanting love and not receiving it is so scary, we all distract ourselves by pursuing safer things. One of the safer things that we pursue instead of love is power because power brings with it a sense of control over one's life and environment. This is why in toxic relationships you often find a power struggle over who’s the least invested. Whoever is the least committed in a relationship feels the most in control of it because their aloofness protects them from the vulnerability that true love demands. The fear of unrequited love drives many of us to prioritize control over connection, leading to cycles of superficial interactions and a world where love is elusive, its impostors are celebrated, and its healing potential is stifled.

To love is to embrace the potential of having your love rejected, and though I've sat here and tried my best to formulate why, I can't say entirely what makes rejection so painful. Perhaps it's biologically hardwired into us. If our ancient ancestors were rejected by their tribe, then survival became much more difficult, if not impossible, and so, maybe the fear of rejection is ultimately a fear of death. But I think it's deeper than that. I think what really makes rejection, specifically the rejection of love, so painful is that it makes us feel like we're unlovable. It challenges our self-worth and strikes at the very core of our identity. When our love is not reciprocated, it can feel like a validation of our deepest insecurities, leading us to question our inherent value. The pain isn't just about the loss of a potential relationship; it's about the perceived confirmation that we are fundamentally flawed or inadequate. This emotional wound can lead to a profound sense of loneliness and isolation, reinforcing the belief that we are destined to remain unconnected, unappreciated, and unseen.

The actual most common fear, in my opinion.

I remember when I was little, my older brother and I were at the skating rink with our older cousin for a birthday party. My older brother saw this girl he had a crush on and my older cousin noticed that my older brother kept looking in her direction. My older cousin said to my older brother, "Why don't you just go over there and ask her to dance? The worst she can say is 'no'!" At the time, this seemed like really profound advice to my 9 or 10-year-old mind. In theory, it made perfect sense. Being a little kid meant being told 'no' all the time and very seldomly did being told 'no' hurt me so much as it inspired me to ask again or figure out a way to get what I wanted despite the 'no'. But what I learned as I got older is that being told 'no' in regards to matters of the heart was much different than being told 'no' in regards to things we don't have an emotional investment in. A 'no' when asking for a toy or a treat could be easily shrugged off because I'd just ask again the next time the opportunity arose. But, a 'no' in matters of the heart felt like a rejection of my very being. It wasn’t just a refusal of a request; it was a dismissal of my feelings, my affections, and effectively, of who I am.

This kind of 'no' carried a weight that felt much heavier and far more personal. It had the power to make me question my worth and worthiness. It made me realize that the fear of rejection wasn't just about hearing the word 'no'; it was about confronting the possibility that someone might not see me as worthy of their love or of presence in their life. This realization made the stakes feel infinitely higher and the courage required to face potential rejection even more profound. Perhaps this is why there was always a sense of anxiety when I would call my father and ask him to come and pick me up. Because I knew that if he said 'no', or even worse, if he said 'yes' but didn't show, it wouldn't just ruin that moment but would be something I'd sulk over for hours, if not days, wondering why he didn't like me or want to spend time with me. So, even though my cousin was technically correct in his assertion that the worst that someone could say is 'no', what he forgot to mention is that, when it comes to offering someone your heart, 'no' is the worst thing they can say.

Loving v. Virginia

I'm sure Dr. Umar would be ashamed of me for saying this (not that I care what Dr. Umar thinks, lol) but I've always admired interracial couples and the inherent bravery and rebellion that their existence exudes in a world that is addicted to separation and tribalism. My admiration is even greater for interracial couples of the not-so-distant past when it was literally illegal to date and marry outside of one's race. One of the most profound and inspiring stories of love overcoming racial barriers is the story of Richard and Mildred Loving.

Richard Loving, a white man, and Mildred Jeter, a Black woman, fell in love and got married in 1958. But their union was illegal in Virginia, leading to their arrest and eventual exile from their home state. Instead of accepting this injustice, they fought back, taking their case all the way to the Supreme Court. In 1967, the Court ruled in their favor in the landmark case Loving v. Virginia, striking down laws banning interracial marriage across the United States. Their love and resilience not only changed their lives but also paved the way for future generations to marry freely, regardless of race. The Loving's story is a testament to the power of love to overcome deep-seated fear, prejudice, and even legal barriers, illustrating the power that having the courage to love has to change, not only our personal worlds, but the worlds of everyone around us.

The Loving Family.

On the 40th anniversary of of the Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court decision, Mildred gave a statement about the legacy of her and her late husband's love for each other and I think her words perfectly encapsulates the power and the purpose of loving fully:

Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don't think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the "wrong kind of person" for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people's religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people's civil rights.
I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard's and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That's what Loving, and loving, are all about.
Love does not acknowledge man-made boundaries.

Though I've been involved with women of many races, I've only ever seriously dated Black women, primarily due to the sense of familiarity and comfort that our shared experience provides. But I would never deny myself the potential of true love or deep connection due to the color of a person's skin or anything else, for that matter. Having experienced what I feel to be true love, I know that it's worth overcoming whatever obstacles are placed between myself and it. Mildred Loving's daughter said that she wanted people to remember her mother as being strong, brave, humble, and believing in love. And I'm grateful that her courage and belief in the power of love has helped create a world where not only I, but my friends and family in the LGBTQ community, can love whoever we like, freely, and without the threat of losing our liberty.

Brave Heart 💜

I've done many courageous things throughout my life, but I think the bravest thing I've ever done was committing to keeping my heart open, embracing my sensitivity, and loving out loud as a Black man in America. It may not seem like a big deal to you, but I was very apprehensive about wearing 'love' or loving messages on my clothing when I first started to eight years ago due to the fear that I would be perceived as 'soft' and would have my masculinity questioned or challenged. I honestly think that most Black men would feel more comfortable wearing a shirt that says "I love diarrhea" out in public than they would wearing a shirt that says "I love you" because, while loving diarrhea is certainly strange and would certainly cause people to avoid you, it'd likely make you feel safer for that very same reason. Whereas openly expressing yourself as soft, vulnerable, and open to giving and desiring love will likely do the opposite because many people, especially men, see being loving or emotionally open in general as weakness and, due to their own shadows, seek to exploit that weakness.

A shirt I designed for 'As You Are', a conscious clothing/accessories brand I created in 2016.

Expressing love openly as a Black man contradicts the generally accepted perception of us as being 'hard', aggressive, and emotionally incompetent. The fear of appearing weak or emotional in a world that often demands stoicism from men makes openly loving and expressing emotions an act of radical bravery. My affinity for purple heart emojis might just seem like an attempt to be cute from the outside looking in, but for me, it is to commemorate the battles within myself I've had to overcome, and the injuries I've endured and had to heal from in my quest to be the love that I seek to see in the world. It is to challenge the perception, not only of what it means to be a man in our society, but also of what it means to be human. What makes me feel as powerful as I do these days is not the belief or the desire to pretend that I'm invulnerable or beyond being hurt, but rather it's because I've fully embraced my vulnerability, the fact that you can hurt me, and the fact that despite how many swords have and will be put through my heart, it will remain open and unguarded for the rest of my life.

I love you. Even if you don't love me back. Even if you do but can't quite find the courage to express it. In my opinion, there is no greater betrayal of Self than to desire love and to deny yourself it out of fear. So, I hope that this newsletter inspires you to be brave enough, to be vulnerable enough to love out loud, even if the object of your love cannot or will not give that love back.

Growth Challenge

Loving Out Loud

Objective: Embrace vulnerability and express love openly, breaking free from the fear of rejection and societal expectations. This week's challenge is simple and, at least logistically, easy.


  1. Choose Someone:
    • Identify someone in your life to whom you usually don’t express emotions. This could be a family member, a friend, or even a stranger.
  2. Express Love:
    • Tell this person that you love them. Be sincere and direct in your expression.
  3. Reflect on Your Feelings:
    • Pay special attention to the feelings that arise before and after you make this declaration of love. Notice any anxiety, excitement, or fear beforehand, and any relief, joy, or discomfort afterward.
  4. Observe the Response:
    • Observe the other person’s reaction. Did they respond in the way you expected? How did their response make you feel?
  5. Journal Or Simply Reflect On Your Experience:
    • Reflect on the following questions:
      • How did saying "I love you" make you feel?
      • Did expressing love make you feel better or worse?
      • Did you get the response that you expected?
      • What did you learn about yourself and the other person?

What I've Been Up to

I'm in so much pain right now. I'd been opening myself up to making friends in Pittsburgh and specifically finding people to play basketball with because I miss competing and the level of fitness that basketball shape requires. Well, last weekend my desire manifested when I pulled up to a basketball court that I discovered a couple weeks ago and there were some guys there who invited me to run with them. I ended up running couple games with them and afterwards they added me to their basketball text group and invited me to come play the following weekend. Yesterday I met up with them again and had a blast playing at a higher intensity than I have in years with them for a couple hours. But since no good deed goes unpunished, my body is currently suffering the consequences of having taken years off of playing basketball at full speed and I'm honestly having trouble moving today due to how sore I am, lol.

Me and the court where I discovered my new basketball buddies.

I'm not really sure what's going on but I put on a lot of weight earlier this year. I'm still pretty fit and pretty slim but I definitely don't still have the amount of definition that I'm used to and have been locked into an arduous battle to reclaim my abs over the past couple months. Losing weight has never been that hard for me in the past and on the contrary, I usually have more difficulty putting on weight, but something has shifted and even though I'm sure I'm eating at a caloric deficit and am exercising daily, I can't seem to lose this weight. Like, I'm used to being in the 165lbs-180lbs range and for most of this year I've been 190lbs+. This experience has definitely made me more compassionate for those people who struggle to lose weight because I'm seeing that it's not always the simple math equation nutritionists and fitness gurus make it out to be. So, while I will continue to try and lose this fat ass I've acquired, it's also providing me with an opportunity to learn to love my body in whatever form it takes.

Lately I've been feeling a lot more connected to my work energetically and of the fact that it matters, even if reality doesn't always reflect that to me and I'd like to thank you for being a big part of the reason why I've committed to this work again.

With hope that time will bring the courage to fully express our love,

Micheal Sinclair 💜