I wasn’t expecting to meet anyone. For 7 months, I didn’t want anything to do with the chaotic and ruinous world of dating. After all, my last breakup had left me jaded, emotionally exhausted, and a bit apathetic about romantic love in general. “It’s all just a ruse based on cheesy-ass, saccharine romantic comedies starring Rachel McAdams, and I want out!!”, I’d grumble to myself as I buried my head in work.
I brushed off well-meaning friends who offered to set me up. I cavalierly shrugged away suggestions of joining Bumble. I listened with detached bemusement about my single friend’s dating exploits. After all, romantic involvement with men was something I was actively trying to avoid, kind of like mononucleosis at Summer Camp; I was content just meandering off into the woods on my own, metaphorically speaking.
But then, I met someone. He was kind and considerate to friends as well as to total strangers. He had annoyingly disarming warmth and generosity of spirit. He was genuine and honest, with no pretenses. And–hey!!–He had an affinity for all things Bruce Lee that was parallel to my own nerdy admiration. He hadn’t been looking for anyone either; he was seemingly just as resigned about relationships as I was. And yet, here we were.
Sometimes we just need that one person to inspire us to dig a little deeper, to be truly honest with ourselves, and to shove aside the bullsh*t of the past in order to be present in the moment.
At first, we feel all those old feelings of fear and anxiety well up inside. We are guarded. We are cautious. After all, we’ve been down the path before of falling head-over-heels for someone, only to get unceremoniously drop-kicked to the curb.
But also, we feel hopeful. We feel excited. We feel the earnest spark to connect with another human being again, and the ardent desire to see where it may lead us. I think I’ve always been a bit overly cautious. I grew up with strict and overprotective parents who would warn me of all the inherent dangers of Living While Female. They would inform me of all the malicious perils lurking around every corner, just waiting to snatch me up and carry me away into the dark night. Because of their well-meaning but ultimately inhibiting values they impressed upon me, I grew to become fearful.
I learned to not take risks. I was instilled with the belief that you had to play it safe, to not let your guard down, to abide by all the rules and to color within the goddamn lines. This mentality would later seep into my love life, enabling me to build those proverbial walls around myself and protect my heart.
Perhaps that will always be my knee-jerk reaction, my 1st initial impulse. But as time goes by, I realize how truly damaging that is; sure, I’ll never lose if I close myself off from getting hurt….but I’ll never win either. Nothing in life that is valuable and meaningful comes easy. It’s f*cking frightening to lay open my bare self in all it’s messy, complicated and often inelegant glory. But life is short. One day this will all be over, and I don’t want to choose to live in fear and regret.
I’ve come to realize that I don’t want to settle for playing it safe anymore, because that’s cowardice.
To be open-hearted requires courage, and while it feels terrifying to be so vulnerable, I’m choosing to take a chance on the possibility of love instead of hiding away. And that in turn, can only help me to learn and grow.
We’ve all had our hearts stomped on. We’ve all felt the mind-numbing pain and had the ugly-crying jags and experienced the gut-wrenching agony of losing someone we had once pinned all our hopes and dreams on. But we eventually learn to pick up the pieces and we begin again.
Because we soon learn that the love and acceptance that we want to give to someone else is in actuality just the love and acceptance that we feel ready to give to ourselves.
It’s then that we realize we are ready to move on to a new chapter in our lives, to forgive ourselves for the mistakes of our past, and to embrace the journey to come. So with renewed hope in our hearts, we take those tentative steps forward again, because really, what’s the alternative? Let fear immobilize us as Life and Love pass us by? An Obit that reads “Well, at least she tried…but not really?”
Thanks, but no thanks. I know I’m stronger than that, and worth so much more. I’m ready to be courageous and to take a chance. To do anything less would be a disservice to myself. Lastly, what happened with that special guy, you ask?
I told him calmly and confidently what I am seeking at this point in my life. That I am ready to take a risk with opening my heart to the possibility of us. That yes, I am a vulnerable, emotional and passionate human who is far from f*cking perfect, but will give her all and do her best anyway.
In the end, that’s all we can ever do. Well, I am happy to report that he is also open to seeing where this goes; I’ll keep you posted here. I feel pretty assured and at ease because I’ve made my intentions known clearly. There’s freedom in allowing myself to be open to adventures and discovery, instead of trying to quarantine myself from getting hurt all the time.
I’m going all the way in, and I’m hopeful that he will join me.
Whatever happens though, I know I’m going to be fine, either way. Yes, my parents warned me about being carried away into the dark night, into the vast unknown…but this time, I will go willingly.