It’s no secret that there is an underlying pressure for us to pair off. We are told in stories and shown in movies that being with someone allows us to live a fuller, more meaningful life. Not until we are attached to another person are we truly living, truly fulfilling our purpose.
I’m learning what a conflicting emotion this can conjure. On the one hand we feel pressured to pair off, yet on the other, we feel pressured to remain independent.
We are all out there together. Navigating the mine-field of dating, relationships and heartbreak. We protect ourselves, trying not to get hurt. Our shields are up and we are prepared for battle. We are terrified of each other. Terrified of getting hurt like we have in the past.
So, love kind of is a battlefield. But there are no armies, no militias, just individual soldiers protecting themselves from one another. Circling each other, alert. Shields drawn, years of past relationships and family drama and cruel peers hidden behind sutures, scarring the skin. Sometimes those sutures snag on something, reminding us of the pain, holding us back. Sometimes they unravel, unexpectedly revealing what lies underneath.
The way I see it, we are all wounded soldiers. Some of us wear our scars proudly with acceptance and humility, others are hidden behind sarcastic comments or rude attitudes. Its difficult to be vulnerable. To own our scars. To walk back into battle with shields down, wounds laced up in stitches, covered with bandages. It’s scary to trust we won’t get hurt. Because most of the time, we will.
There’s a misconception in our society that we are all individual beings, completely disconnected from one another. As if the guy who didn’t text us back after that date or the girl who didn’t give us her phone number aren’t inherently intertwined with us. Thats not true. We are all in this together. Fighting the same battle. On the same exact battle field. Dodging grenades and calculating steps to avoid landmines. Nobody wants to get hurt. Especially those who have been hurt in the past.
You see, collectively, we are all shaped by our own individual experiences. Never forget that just as you have had pieces of your past shape you to think and behave the way you do now, so has that person you’re cursing out for not thinking and behaving the way you’d like them to. We all have our own thrilling, complicated, happy and sometimes painful stories. Respect that, don’t judge it.
I suggest striving for vulnerability. Taking pride in allowing ourselves to become vulnerable. Because vulnerability is the ultimate form of strength. And it won’t ever be easy, but it will always be worth it. Worth the agonizing confusion, self-doubt, loneliness. The missed connections, the let-downs and the false hope.
May we scar gracefully from our past hurts, and more importantly, learn from them. Remember why we must put forth the effort to put ourselves out there, knowing theres a chance of being let down. Because thats all we can do. Trust each other, rather than fear each other. Don’t judge others for not being who you want them to be, who you expected them to be. We all hide behind masks sometimes because it can be scary to show our real selves. But to put ourselves out there, shields down, mask off. That is true vulnerability.