I have always been a very trusting person. I’m known to be a big believer in the idea that everybody has some good in them and that everyone should receive the benefit of the doubt. As I’ve grown older and encountered situations when I was proven wrong, I’ve begun to ask myself if it’s possible to be as open and trusting as I am while still maintaining caution.
Recently a friend of mine, who has a similar outlook, was sexually assaulted by someone she had only just met, had only had friendly and casual interactions with and had someone she had trusted. She met her assaulter in a public situation, they small-talked for a few minutes, she radiated openness and kindness, and he abused that. He abused her.
I begin to realize, more and more, that the people in this world do not always deserve the benefit of the doubt. You never know who you’re dealing with, and what’s friendly small talk one minute becomes sexual assault the next minute. My friend wrote something that strongly resonates with me:
"I have resolved to continue this unique characteristic I have been blessed with: love and curiosity towards all people. If it's naive, call me naive. I think it saves me from ignorance."
It saves us from ignorance.
I believe so deeply that this quality that she and I have is precious--everybody has the potential to be good. Assume the positive instead of the negative. But still, how do we go about living in a world when assuming the positive can result in assault, in rape, in death? Do we continue this outlook and risk putting ourselves in danger? There must be a balance somewhere, a sweet spot in between the two extremes where you can maintain your optimism while still holding caution.
So I ask you, where is the balance? Have you found it? Define the approach toward life that manages to achieve both caution and freedom. Spell it out for me, because I haven’t found it yet. I’m still working on finding my balance, as I’m sure my friend is. I will not restrict my life and my potential experiences by closing myself off from the world out of fear; I want to live openly. Yet for my own safety and the safety of those I love, I have to be more cautious. This world is f*cked up, and that is a sad reality that I cannot ignore.
As I work on finding my balance, I encourage you all to do the same. Live your life openly and freely, embrace the world and the people in it, but understand the current truth of our world as well. Work on your balance. I can’t say from experience, but I think that finding that perfect in-between will feel pretty wonderful.