Today, I want to talk about vulnerability. A daunting concept, but one that begs for much exploration from me, and probably you too. I was always ashamed of being open and honest about the way that I felt, but I think I can safely say that I have reached a point in my life where I have spaces that are free of any shame. In pursuing any task, I always let my anxiety get the better of me. And in any of my opinions, my intention is not to discredit this illness, as it can be quite debilitating, but only to discuss and offer my newfound perspective.
I would think myself out of anything good, questioning intentions, doubting myself, holding back my feelings. Much of this may be accredited to years of accumulated baggage, that fed into my counter-productive thought processes. But I would not have stopped to evaluate this until a few months ago when I met him.
As someone who's had her share of experiences, I knew that instant, fast attractions did not prove to last very long. As humans, we see something that excites us and immediately start to idealize it in our minds. We see it for what it could be, and not what it actually is.
I wanted to see him for what he was, so I gave him a chance. And through all of the days and all of the days and nights, the pints of ice cream, and every single one of the movies, I laughed.
I laughed until my heart wanted to give out. I think that laughter is my kryptonite, and I ironically say this without ever having seen Superman. He had a laugh that could light up an entire room, leaving everyone with the biggest, goofiest smile on their faces. He ignited happiness within me that I'd thought I had long lost.
He had grown on me.
I knew that my racing thoughts could be a handful, and I knew that I had baggage. And I couldn't just let that fact go. So I stopped myself. I am wary of new connections because these walls have taken me a long time to build, a long time to enforce. So when he did and said everything right, I was thrown. I had started to feel comfortable, I started to open up. My laugh was more free-spirited than usual. An outside ear would not be able to hear it, but I recognized it-- within myself.
The uncertainty. The questions, the anxiety, the insecurity. And it's not like I'd asked for it. Sometimes, these things just happen without you wanting them to. You are suddenly drawn to a person that you may not have even imagined yourself to want.
They look into your eyes, and everything inside of you moves.
I'd heard all of the cheesy movie dialogues and all of the quotes that were far too cliche to process.
"Just go for it."
"Live in the moment."
I mistook my judgment of them for cynicism, an expected effect of being on my own within life's trials for longer than I can remember. I'm sure that some of you may relate to my dilemma.
But I am here to tell you that although some of it may be, it is not only bitterness.
I am a hopeless romantic, shamelessly so. But I am also someone who thinks a lot more than is healthy. I can attribute some of this to my anxiety, and the rest of it is just natural apprehension. After carefully evaluating my own behavior and that of others around me, I realized that I have been holding myself back, selling myself short, doubting my own value when it comes to the prospect of relationships of any kind, romancesin particular.
At any lack of clarity, I'd find the appropriate thing to do, was to pull back, to step away from the source of the distortion, usually being a significant other. Within every single one of my relationships, both serious and casual, I made compromises of many kinds. I let the other person lead the way, and just came along for the ride. Fear was the driving factor within every single one of these endeavors, leading me to dismiss any other feeling that I had. I always thought I was simply unsure when it came to the acceptance of my feelings.
Now with him, I had no sort of expectations to catch feelings, so fear was out of the question. I had just recovered from an emotional trauma not very long ago, so I knew that I was damaged goods. As far as I let myself believe: I had made a new friend. Seemingly unfortunate, he had feelings for me, so I diffused the situation as soon as possible because while enduring my own, I was not going to be responsible for anyone else's pain.
When you took the fear out of the equation, it was amazing how many new feelings begin to brew.
But when these feelings started to bubble up to the surface, my familiar friend, fear, came along for the ride. Throughout my entire life, I thought that when I liked someone, I had to know, with one hundred percent certainty that, they were it. I did not give myself room for any exploration, for any loss of control. Feelings were dangerous territory and with my baggage, my heart was a minefield.
In hindsight, I unconsciously played so many games with this boy, proving to be more spineless than any other man that I had contemptuously criticized in my entire life. Men are indeed trash, but in this case, so was I. I let these feelings build up for, not weeks, but months before I was even able to acknowledge their existence. And the only person putting pressure on me was myself.
So if you feel something, let yourself feel it-- in its entirety, even if you are unsure of the consequences. I found reasons to convince myself that I meant nothing to him and that he meant nothing to me-- when all I had to do was communicate the chaos that was going on in my head, however messy that it was. As great as I think that I am at communication, I guess we're all still learning.
And this applies to not only relationships but any of your various pursuits. I've learned that in order to get somewhere, anywhere, you have to move in a direction. Whether it is North, South, East, or West, you have to keep moving. And if in your journey, you learn things that you had not known about yourself prior to your steps, you will have learned them-- only because you kept moving. Whether it is in the direction of your ultimate destination or not, any step at all is a step in the direction of progress. I spent so much time wondering about the endless list of ways that things could go wrong, that I ended up standing still.
You don't have to be sure. In this fast-paced and unpredictable life, you cannot possibly be in control of everything, including your feelings.
So if you have feelings for someone, tell them. And if you aren't so sure, that's okay too.
Let yourself feel the apprehension, let yourself feel the anxiety. We often unknowingly shelter ourselves when it comes to protecting our hearts. I was very ashamed of my sensitive heart for the longest time, but no longer. Vulnerability is a beautiful thing, so whether I feel reciprocation-- or heartbreak, I am thankful that I feel anything at all.