Allow Yourself To Care

Allow Yourself To Care

To become spring, means accepting the risk of winter.
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When I was a junior in high school, my french teacher had us read Le Petit Prince. Even though it's a children's book, the entire story is filled with really valuable lessons (leading me to believe either French children have the emotional maturity light years beyond their actual), but the one lesson in the box that really stuck out to me was when the little Prince befriended a fox. The little boy didn't want to befriend the fox because he knew he wasn't staying in one place for long, but the fox told him how important it was to make real, genuine connections even if it means getting hurt. The fox said:

"Of course we will hurt each other. But this is the very condition of existence. To become spring, means accepting the risk of winter. To become present, means accepting the risk of absence.”

As an angsty seventeen year old, reading this really affected me. At this point of my life I didn't have an rock-solid relationships outside of the ones in my family. I didn't put my trust into anyone because I was so scared to care about someone to the point that they could hurt me. I kept all of my friendships at arms-length.

I was more concerned about maintaining a certain control over my feelings then I was about making genuine relationships that I could rely on. The idea of giving someone the power to hurt me terrified me.

But I wanted to be like that fox in the book. I wanted to love people without the fear of them leaving. I didn't want to be held back by my fear of relying on someone else. So I made a conscious effort to let go of the thoughts that held me back. I made myself promise that I would put faith in other people to not hurt me, and even if they did, at least I was allowing myself to be emotionally open.

Then I made some really good friends. Like really, really good friends. They were kind, fun and put up with all my quirky habits. I didn't have to think about everything I did and said when I was with them, and every time we hung out, I left with a smile on my face. It was the first time in a long time that I wasn't scared to admit I really, really cared about someone (or in this case, multiple people). And three years later, they're still some of my best friends.

Since I started allowing myself to love with my whole darn heart, I've been a lot happier. I have really great friends both at home and at college. I have friends I know I can rely on and trust. I'm able to tell someone I love and care about them without being scared they don't feel the same way about me.

I'm not scared of being hurt. Yes, I've been hurt. Yes, I've cared about people who didn't give me that same care in return. But I've survived, and if anything, it made me realize how great it is that I'm so loving and open to others.

I used to think caring about a someone "too much" would leave me feeling vulnerable and weak, but now that I care and love people as much as I want, I've never felt more free. If I had one thing to say to seventeen year old me, I'd let her know the fox was right; making genuine connections is always worth it.


Cover Image Credit: Jolie Delia

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

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What Rescuing a Dog Taught Me About My Future

She was a real pain to begin with, but I wouldn't give her up for the world now.

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My first dog came from a breeder to us when he was just a puppy. I was in third grade so we were both young together. I remember stepping off of the bus and seeing him curled up in my mom's arms. His breed, a Cavalier King Charles, is a highly sought after dog for their small size and beautiful markings. However, dog breeding can lead to medical complications down the line. Heart murmurs are very frequent as cavaliers get older. When he turned 9 years old, they were already detecting the beginning of a heart murmur in him. But my second dog didn't come to us in quite the same way.

Willow was about a year old. She was rescued from an abusive home where she had to fight for her food from many other dogs. This made her guard resources and distrustful of us. My mom and I begged the rest of our family for the ability to adopt her, and they finally agreed. Being not potty trained, we had to teach her with a lot of positive encouragement when she went pee in the right place (not our carpet). It took her a while to realize that we weren't going to take her food away and she gradually became less resource guarding. She started to trust my other dog more and play with him. A lot of the time, they even snuggle together now.

At the time, I was in my junior year of high school and still thinking about the idea of becoming a veterinarian. She helped me decide to go for it, and now I'm in college and getting ready to apply for veterinary school. Willow has become part of our family, and her funny and unique personality fit right in with us.

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