“Slow down,” people say.
“Guard yourself,” they say.
“I just want you to be careful.”
“I don’t want to see you hurt again.”
Letting my guard down has always been something I’ve done too willingly, if we’re being honest. When I feel something, I let it envelop me. I don’t hesitate. Hesitation just leads to “what ifs.” It leads to wondering what could have been. So I skip that, and instead, I allow myself to feel.
I want to find love. Why is that something that is so unacceptable to say aloud? I want to be someone who invites love into her life, always. And yes, that ultimately makes me more vulnerable and more susceptible to pain. But one of the reasons people always warn against moving too fast, and always encourage me to not love too deeply or expose my feelings too soon or keep my guard up is that they believe that love cannot happen in a mere few weeks or few months.
Love grows and evolves, yes. But that doesn’t mean it can’t start to blossom early on.
I believe in falling for people too quickly. I believe in saying what you feel when you feel it, instead of trying to push aside genuine emotion. I believe in leaning in a little closer and allowing myself to be excited about things early on, even if that means my heart breaks faster. I believe that there is no timeline that love has to follow; that it just happens when it happens. And I believe in being ready to let it happen.
And I don’t understand when protecting ourselves became synonymous with hiding our feelings. Protecting myself, to me, means building up my emotional security. And that doesn’t come with not expressing my feelings, it comes with having confidence in my actions, and reminding myself that when I show my feelings, that is one more time in my life when I absolutely know I’ll have no regrets. Protecting myself means having the conviction to own it when I say what I feel. And protecting myself means having my own emotional first-aid kit. It means knowing that I can take care of myself, and knowing that I have good friends who I can turn to if I need them. Protecting myself doesn’t mean being devoid of feelings, it means knowing I can picking myself back up if for some reason those feelings don’t work out.
I never want to be someone who doesn’t love deeply, or someone who doesn’t allow themselves to fall in love because they think it’s “too soon” or “too fast” or “too whatever.” There are some people who hold out for months, years even, before telling a partner they love them. And then there are some people who say it after the second date. And it doesn’t mean one relationship is going to last longer than the other. It doesn’t mean that one situation can claim superiority over the other one. All it really proves is that we love at different paces, and there is nothing wrong with that.
But as for me, I know I love quickly. And for the fact that it does make me vulnerable sometimes, I like it that way. I will always be the girl who follows my heart, who dives straight in, and who displays my feelings on my sleeve. And I love myself for all of that. It is even braver than I realized.