Life is scary. People do things that hurt you. You talk to someone and share precious feelings and get a response that makes you feel like they totally don’t get you, they don’t understand where you’re coming from, or they don’t value your feelings, and you think: why did I bother…
The temptation, after this happens again and again, is to shut down, go hide under the duvet and not talk to anybody. Put the TV on, order food online, cuddle the cat and avoid opening the door unless it’s that pizza delivery you’re expecting. Why talk to other humans? They never understand.
Except that it’s not really “never”, it just feels like that sometimes. Once in a while I have had the wonderful experience of feeling that someone understands me, once in a while I have had the experience of feeling loved and accepted and liked by a fellow human being (hey, one of these humans even chose to marry me! incredible!) – and if I give in to the “why bother” voice, I’ll miss out on all these precious moments. If I don’t take the risk of interacting with people, I won’t get the enormous, life-giving blessing of those interactions when I feel truly connected to someone.
Me, I’m a blogger, I throw my thoughts and feelings out there and risk people trampling on them, and sometimes they do – often unintentionally, just through not getting what I was trying to express, not understanding where I was coming from, that sort of thing. But then, now and again there’s a comment that makes my face light up with a massive smile because someone really understands me! There are times when I don’t dare look at the comments – not feeling up to it just then, leaving it for when I’m feeling stronger – but then I look and find a friendly wave, an understanding nod, a sign that I’ve connected with a fellow human being who does get it.
I used to yell at people for not getting it. I’ve grown up a bit, and I don’t yell so much – my expectations have become more realistic, I’ve come to terms with the fact that people won’t always get it and that’s just part of life. I continue to pour my thoughts and feelings out onto the screen despite those reactions – partly because I blog not just in order to be understood (I have stuff to say and I want to say it out loud, no matter what the reactions will be), but also because it feels worth it for those moments when I do feel understood.
And so in offline life – when someone asks how I am, I have a choice: I can hide behind platitudes or I can try that person out, take the risk and say something real to them. Sometimes the reaction is so hurtful that I want to hide under the duvet for the next fifty years and never ever tell anyone anything meaningful about myself again as long as I live. But I recognise that it’s important to keep taking those risks anyway, because there is something I deeply need which I will not get without taking these risks.
Fear can be really isolating. I hereby declare that I choose not to let it do that to me. The sun is shining outside, and I will not stay indoors and miss out on its warmth. There are people out there who could be my friends if I let them. I will not stay in my shell. I’ll get hurt sometimes and I’ll need to go cry for a bit and hug a teddy bear, but I’ll go out to play again, because if I don’t live dangerously, is it worth living at all?