I have a ornery underlying motivation to most things I do. Something about being able to say, “I knew it all along,” “You can’t catch me,” or in my words as a youngster, “So! Ha-Ha-Ha!” (as in, ‘I got the prize at the bottom of the cereal before you…So! Ha-Ha-Ha!’) gives me so much satisfaction. While this little balky attitude has done a lot to get me through sports and general adverse life situations, falling back on the same mindset in relationships isn’t helpful at all. Depending on it too much can make me a bit fearful that someone is trying to take advantage of me or make me look foolish.
Recently I was on a date with a guy who told me he couldn’t figure me out. He reads people for a living, so this was kind of big. The immediate reaction in my head was that proud little girl saying, “You couldn’t get me! I outsmarted you! So! Ha-ha-ha!” But then he didn’t call for a couple of days, so I suppose I wasn’t laughing too long.
I wouldn’t open up enough to be vulnerable, and it cost me some valuable chances to get to know him. Actually, I’m sure that being closed off has cost me a lot of chances to know a lot of people in all sorts of situations. It probably takes a while to really get to know me.
However when people do get past those barriers, I trust them completely. The pay off to me is huge. They’ll be my friend forever if they’ll have me, and those are absolutely the best relationships ever. Come to think of it, this is likely the reason I don’t like to date my friends or my friends’ friends. It’s just a little too close to my soft spot.
Everyone does this to different degrees. It’s one of those self-preservation things. I always like to think that I never hold anything back. I give whatever I do everything I’ve got and look back knowing that whatever happened, I did my best. That’s what I’d like to say I do in life and relationships as well as in sports. But I know I fall far short.
When the benefit is meaningful relationships and experiences, exposing ourselves to heart ache is worth the risk. This week I’m just going to suck it up and face those little nagging fears. I will make a point to better know and trust people who I may be keeping at a safe distance and to tackle all those opportunities in life with a gusto I can look back on with a well-deserved sense of pride.