I don’t want to shut people out. I just do. It’s easier that way.
Because then I don’t get hurt.
If you don’t talk, you don’t risk the possibility of rejection.
If you don’t scream, people won’t think you’re crazy.
If you don’t let them in, they can’t break you.
It’s easy, you see. You just have to remain quiet and smile. Then you’ll be labelled as “the quiet one.” The one who doesn’t speak much but seems nice. Everyone will know you, but nobody will really know you. You’ll just be that girl.
That mundane, ordinary girl who’s just there.
The truth is, you’re scared. Scratch that, you’re terrified. You don’t completely understand yourself yet, and so you don’t trust that others can understand or accept you. You can’t imagine the world opening you up and observing your pieces. Because what if one day the pieces never join back? What if the world steals them from you? What will you be then?
So, you’re just pretending. To be that girl. To be someone who the world doesn’t know, so then the world can’t touch. You won’t get a scratch this way. You’ll be safe. So you close the world off from you. Sure, you’re living in this world and interacting with the beings, but it feels like you’re somewhere far away. Like in a glass box. Tightly sealed. You can see everyone and everyone can see you. But they can’t hear you. They can’t touch you. You can’t touch them.
But you know what?
One day, the glass might break. Not by the world. They won’t do anything because you’ve put them in a position where they won’t feel the need to. No, it’ll be you who might break it. Out of sheer frustration. At that point, you would have shut the world so far out that you’ll question your existence. You’ll think, What if I didn’t wonder? Or what if I wondered the opposite? What if the world added pieces to your pieces to make a better puzzle? What if the world removed the spiky pieces, the hurtful ones? What if you discovered the joy of having a stranger slowly become your best friend? What if you stopped being a stranger to this world?
Yes, in spite of the good days, the bad days may still hurt. Yes, the pain may still sometimes get excruciating. Yes, you may still fall again and again. But the real question is: Would it be worth it?
I’m still trying to figure out how to open up, because old habits die hard. But I have figured out the answer to the above question. It took me a lot of time to realize that:
Yes, it’s worth it.
It’s worth every single teardrop, scream, and fall.
It’s worth every single lost piece.
The world is worth it.
You are worth it.
You see, the world is filled not only with people but also places and experiences. The earth is a beautiful place. It’s not black and white. It’s freaking green and blue. And it’s so vast. Drench yourself in its wholeness. Feel the raindrops, touch the grass, sit near the ocean. It’s bigger than just people. Connect with the place. Fall in love with it. Then see how stubbornly you’ll want to fully experience living in this gorgeous planet.
When you experience the joy of falling in love. When you roam around the city at midnight with your best friend, up to no good. When you try to bake waffles at 2 AM with your best friend, end up with the batter all over your faces, and slowly start laughing. When you laugh so hard it’s hard to breathe. When you go for a walk on a rainy day and inhale the smell of the earth. When you sit next to the fireplace with family, near the Christmas tree, and play cards. When you wear your favorite sundress and dip your feet into a lake. When you sing your favorite songs in your car at the top of your lungs during those summer days. When you burp on your first date and it becomes a story he loves to tell. When you move into your own house with your love. When you go easy on yourself when you make a mistake. When you dance to a song you’ve heard countless times, forgetting everything but this moment. It is then that you realize it’s freaking worth it.
For once, just don’t wonder. Just dive right in. Like jumping into the ocean. It’s scary at first, but once you touch the water and become stable, you start to hear, to touch. Not just see. You start to feel. And if by chance, you feel like you are drowning (which you will feel sometimes), kick your feet like hell. Push yourself up. Fight. On some days, you’ll be thrashing for hours. On some days, you’ll see a hand that will help pull you out. On some days, you’ll be too tired to kick harder. But that’s okay. Life is hard as it is; give yourself permission to do your worst on those days. Go easy on yourself.
Protecting your heart by shutting people out won’t make you safe, just unhappy. Stop pretending you want this—or worse, need this. You need authentic living. You need all of it. The smiles, the laughs, the heartbreaks, the cries, the dances. All of it. You need to feel the joy of giggling whenever your best friend does something goofy. You need to feel the awe in staring at sparkling snowflakes with your love. You need to feel the pain of having your heart broken in two. You need to feel the peace of coming to terms with the pain. You need to feel the slow smile that comes across your lips as you slowly heal. You need to give your heart to another and allow yourself to be vulnerable again. For that’s where the beauty lies. In being vulnerable. In showing someone who you are unapologetically. In seeing them walk away and knowing that when someone chooses to stay, it’ll be for the unfiltered, real you. And trust me, they will stay. Some will walk away, but that’s because it wasn’t meant to happen. The world has someone more special in store for you. Have faith.
So, please, let them in, sweet girl. Let them hear the snort in your laugh. Let them see the freckles on your face. Let them know the passions in your heart.
I want you to close your eyes right now. Think of your happiest memory. Recall the place, the people around you, the feelings of contentment and peace. Imagine knowing that a moment will come that will be happier than this. Knowing that you haven’t lived your happiest moment in life. Won’t you be excited? Won’t you want to feel it?
Just let your heart go. Out of its cage. Out of the glass box. Start slow if you want to. Take one step out, and then another.
I still haven’t figured out how to open up completely. But I’m getting there. With each passing day, I let myself snort while laughing with someone. I let myself be close enough for someone to see my eyes. I let myself fall in love with the people, the earth. I let myself fall in love with living. Like really living. And guess what? I’m a giggler. I twirl when I’m in nature. I get a dimple on my left cheek when I smile. I sing everywhere. I make stupid jokes. I cry in every movie that has a sad scene. I love it. I love to feel now. I love being me everywhere.
So, fall in love with being you.
And then you’ll see,
You’ll no longer be a stranger
You’ll be utterly, entirely, irrevocably you.