“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” said Wayne Gretzky. Ever since I’ve heard this, it has been my mantra for the risks I take regarding relationships. Everyone has a different backstory running them at one point or another and feels like they are not enough in some context: not smart enough, not pretty enough, or even not funny enough. With good reason too, it’s absolute frightening to let someone know too much about you and truly let them know what you think about them. I believe that vulnerability is a double-edged sword founded on letting your guard down and getting outside your comfort zone.
Recently, I ran into a dilemma of whether or not I really loved someone. It was a foreign girl I met at university with the most enchanting eyes that you suddenly forgot how beautiful her smile can be. After a semester of late night calls/texts, parties, dinner dates, and ‘studying’, I was engulfed by her charm. There is something about the curiosity of foreign people that brings out the best in us. It calls into question the environment we’ve taken for granted and makes it beautiful again.
Knowing that eventually she would leave, I made the most of every second we had together and revealed parts of myself that I would never have done willingly around my “American” friends. I don’t know how to explain it, but there is an innate feeling that is evoked when you realize that someone is fleeting and will never be with you again. We are often taught what love is and how to spot it, but never taught how to love or when how much love is too much.
I think vulnerability is a terrifying, yet necessary state to be in. It allows us to do the things we never thought of doing to be the person we never thought of being. In my situation, before the foreign girl left I told her exactly how I felt and wrote her a letter so that she’d never forget me. After I gave it to her I felt so vulnerable, like she held my heart and could crush at any moment, without even saying a word. In the letter I wrote two important phrases that no one ever says anymore: You matter and that you are beautiful. After a few days, she told that she’s never received a letter like that before and how she appreciated my sincerity.
If there is anything I have learned that I can share with others it is love is never what you think it is. It’s different for everybody. Although you can take part in the familiar practices of dating, such as a movie and a dinner, you will never find love until you remove the armor and let yourself be seen for who you truly are. I believe that love is in the little things, it’s a sequence of successes, not a grandiose act that is performed every once in a while. If the foreign girl has taught me anything about love it is that you must love others selflessly, so that others can be jealous of the way you love them.