The fear of being lonely is one most people can relate to. College is a breeding ground for these feelings — packed in between heavy class loads and the onset of adult decisions, loneliness and self-doubt can quickly creep in.

Cleo Wade, the author of “Heart Talk” and creator of the Courageous Love Tour, brought new insights to these feelings with every word she spoke.  Wade was a kind, inclusive, deep breath as she responded during our interview at the Graduate Madison this past Wednesday.

Throughout the entire tour, Wade is travelling to college towns in partnership with the Graduate Hotels — fulfilling their shared understanding of cultivating community.

On her second stop of the Courageous Love Tour, she began by discussing her motivation for bringing this vision to life while communicating a passion for genuine conversation and connecting people the entire time.

After setting up a booth in public parks around New York City, Wade sat for ten hours, often times without taking breaks for food and water, offering free peaceful and loving conversation to anyone who had interest.

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“People were really lonely and they felt like they didn’t know how to get into community with others … the online space is an amazing jumping off point for connection, but not the answer for many,” Wade said.

This event is unlike many others, as the main goal is simply to feel heard, less lonely and more capable of loving yourself the way you deserve. Inspired by all of the emotion and honesty she had heard, the Courageous Love tour was created in the hopes that it would give people a way to connect on a deeper level with others in their community.

Feelings of love and compassion were present long before Wade took the stage, illustrating how powerful the simple act of showing up can be when it comes to human interaction. The event began with hugs, breaking the ice with an embrace.

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Coming from a hectic day of class and work, I wasn’t in a mindset to show love to myself, but after leaving Wade’s event, I felt like I could finally take a deep breath and express empathy for the hardships I face.

Wade is the kind of person who inspires one to live a fuller, more peaceful life and to believe that getting there is within reach.

“I’m really terrified of public speaking,” Wade admitted. “So every time I speak publicly I have a mantra I sit and say an hour before performing — which is, ‘As long as you are yourself, you can’t fuck it up,’” Wade said.

The mentality Wade brings to both life and her work is full of self-love and self-belief.  Wade said there are three pillars to self-care that make all the difference in how one lives.

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The first is rooted in therapeutic rituals. Wade emphasized the importance of knowing there are differences between self-maintenance and self-care.

Self-maintenance includes things we do to better ourselves, like working out or cleaning up your living space. Though there are moments when it’s necessary to put time into cultivating a ritual in these ways, self-care is revolved around the idea of accepting abundant love for yourself.

Rather than checking to-do’s off a list, self-care is about taking time out of your week to do things unapologetically, and exactly how you want.  Wade shared that her favorite way to say ‘I love you’ is by taking a bath, drinking red wine and watching a good Netflix show in the background.

Self-care includes actions that feel good in the moment, and prove to be essential for a happy and loving life in the long-run.

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The second pillar of self-care practice is an essential one, Wade said — having dedicated safe spaces in which one can express their inner-most thoughts and emotions without fear of judgment.

Wade said there is something powerful about the creation of intentional spaces for problem-solving and healing. Just as one intentionally buys pillows and blankets for a sleeping space, Wade said we also need to dedicate time to inventing a healing space to leave room for personal growth.

Whether this space is just for you, or a community area meant for collaborative healing, Wade said validating these pieces of ourselves is an important part of the human experience.

The third and final pillar Wade discussed is by far the hardest. In order to love yourself fully and respectfully, it’s important to establish relational boundaries with yourself and others.

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The language and thoughts in our heads are incredibly powerful in shaping your reality. Taking control of inner language is a huge step that invites respect and takes courage to do.

In addition to sticking up for yourself in your own mind, setting clear, assertive boundaries with those around you ensures the same kind of personal respect needed for healthy relationships. Though this idea seems simple, sometimes it’s important to give yourself permission to take care of who you are, even if it means setting boundaries someone else may not like.

Wade has a spectacular way of teaching love, and preached the belief that our future can be better than our present with hope — but not without working for it.  The philosophies of love she shared left me feeling empowered, but also wanting more.

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Luckily, that’s exactly what her book “Heart Talk” is meant for. Wade described it as a book that allows you to “connect purely and emotionally to poetry, mixed with advice that’s really practical and helpful, mixed with mantras and affirmations that are really applicable to everyday life.”

“It is first and foremost a tool that I tried to make as beautiful as possible,” Wade said.

To learn more about “Heart Talk,” visit Wade’s website.  The book is also available for purchase through a number of outlets like Amazon, Target and Barnes & Noble.

Hopefully, we can all learn to love ourselves and each other a little more with the help of empowering women like Cleo Wade.