It is true that you cannot protect yourself from sadness without also protecting yourself from happiness, as Jonathan Safran Foer once said. In my 20 years so far, I've met hardships that have caused me to become closed off from people for odd reasons... their hobbies, mannerisms, astrological signs, etc. While these things are not always testaments of someone's character, they can often be telling signs of what is to come if a relationship with them forms.
Although this mentality has saved me from some bad situations, it has also put me in a position where I don't really feel like I'm living. I find myself living vicariously through my friends' relationships, often times being lonely and emotionally closed off to the world or the thought of putting myself out there. This then does not only affect my social life, but it also affects my ability to network at this crucial time in the start of my career- whatever that may turn out to be. While my friends have begun their internships, I'm still at home and working to have money in my pocket. While my friends are talking about being presidents of major clubs, I'm not involved on campus. While my friends are out living their truth, I'm busy making sure I can maintain a good mood for right now, too anxious to take the leap to ensure a good life for myself.
Don't get me wrong, emotional protection to some degree is important in social settings. It becomes a way to cope with loss, rejection and other hurtful things we may encounter. It is when our only coping skill is to protect and guard ourselves that problems begin to arise.
So, how do we take the leap? What if it hurts? What if we miscalculated our landing and we find ourselves in the ocean of our own emotions instead of on solid ground?
It's a scary step, I know. The first move to letting yourself feel the emotions your heart gives to you is daunting and absolutely terrifying in every respect, but the thought of never making any meaningful connections in life is even scarier. There are people that would rather be hermits than let themselves open up to what the people around them have to offer, even if they're people who will stick around forever. There are people like me who were once so open and vulnerable, not understanding how people could be closed off like that, yet now find themselves falling into traps of suppressing their emotions in order to move semi-smoothly through life. It's scary, but we're in this boat together.
So what if you miscalculated where you'll land? I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, so if you land in your emotions or your "bag," there was a reason for it. Maybe you, too, were suppressing something that your subconscious needed you to see and feel in order to begin to heal.
I have a question for you: instead of, "What if I fail," ask, "What if I succeed? What if I go beyond?"
My seventh grade English teacher, Mrs. Simon, used to always say, "Shoot for the moon- even if you miss, you'll land amongst the stars." You could get hurt- there will always be that risk- but the view on the other side nine-times-out-of-ten will always be worth it.
If you close yourself off from the bad, you will always close yourself off from the good. If you don't want to possibly be rejected by someone you have a crush on by telling them, you will never know if a relationship or even friendships will have ever come from it. If you didn't have your heart broken by a boy you were infatuated with, you'll have missed out on the personal growth you experienced in the years after you first met him. If you didn't stand up for yourself when things got tough, you would have never felt that pride of knowing what's best for you and taking a stand for what you truly believe in.
The sting of rejection and a lost friendship and relationship only last as long as you let them last. A fear of abandonment and rejection could haunt you wherever you go, or it could be something you decide to push back against and leave behind. It's just up to you to take down those walls and let your heart expand.