When I was little, I pretty much never broke the rules, no matter where I was. As I grew up, that wavered a bit in different areas of my life, but not in the boy department. When it came to boys, I thought that if I just followed all of the “rules” (you know, those ones that society makes up for literally no reason), then love would come easy to me. If I just did everything that I was supposed to, then I would fall in love and live happily ever after. I quickly learned that wasn’t the case, but I still haven’t learned exactly how to stop following them.
One of the worst possible things about our generation is the belief that every girl should hide their feelings. One of the first things that you’re taught as a young woman in America is to suppress any and all emotion that you might have. Sure, there are some girls who completely ignore this “rule” and do whatever they want, but I was never one of them. (Actually, I think that most girls grow out of this after middle school, but I never did.)
You see, when it comes to boys, I’ve always played it safe for the fear of striking out. I’ve never wanted to seem vulnerable to them, and I’ve always, always played by the rules. And I think I’m finally learning that’s been my biggest mistake.
Instead, I’m the girl who tried to pretend like she didn’t have any emotions at all during high school. If I felt anything, I covered it up with laughter and sarcasm. I hid behind sarcasm to rid any idea that I might be a normal person with normal people emotions (disclaimer: I’m still guilty of this 90% of the time).
There have only been a few times in my life that I’ve ever actually sucked it up and told people how I felt about them, who I’ve ever showed raw emotion to. In high school, there was this boy, who I was constantly afraid to tell how I felt, even though he probably always assumed, I was still afraid to ever say anything out loud.
I thought that maybe if I told him that I liked him, that he would go running for the hills. Maybe he would think that I was crazy or maybe he would never talk to me again or maybe he’d make fun of me to all of his friends. I wasn’t really sure what would happen, but I was terrified to ever say anything.
A few weeks ago, I texted that boy and told him exactly how I had always felt. I wasn’t asking him if we could work things out; I simply wanted to talk about everything that had gone down in years past that we had consistently avoided talking about. It took me 7 years to build up the courage to actually say how I felt, and 7 years later, I was still absolutely terrified of what was going to happen when I actually said it without holding anything back.
Do you know what happened? The universe collapsed, and I’ll never like another boy again.
Actually no, nothing happened. All that happened is that we became friends again. I was honest with a boy that I had previously had feelings for, and the world didn’t spontaneously combust. Nothing bad happened at all that day. In reality, a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders – a weight that I had been carrying around for 7 years.
I still don’t believe that you should profess your unconditional love for someone on the first date, and I still believe in acts of chivalry. But that doesn’t mean that you should walk around pretending like you don’t feel things that you actually do.
My biggest fear had always been rejection – that moment when you tell someone that you have feelings for them, and they tell you that they don’t feel the same way. But now, I’m thinking that my biggest fear in life is not taking chances when they’re right in front of you.
There are people who have entire careers based upon taking risks and seizing opportunities. Most people can recognize career opportunities that are right in front of them, and they don’t hesitate to take the risks to get them. So why do we act that way when it comes to love?
Why are we so afraid to take a risk that may hinder us from ever feeling the kind of love that we so wish for?