Across the room you see the person who you absolutely adore, the one who makes you smile, inspires you to be more, and sets loose all those crazy butterflies in your stomach. As it stands, you don’t know where you stand. It’s possible the feelings are mutual. That big crush of yours may be wanting to snatch you up, hold you tight, and be your understood Friday night plans. Or not. You could be completely alone in your feelings, and the connection you were so sure you shared could be one-sided.
Right now you are safe. Right now there is a chance that the first option is true, and there is no concrete evidence that you’re rejected. So what would it take for you to give up that security, walk across the room, and tell that person exactly how you feel?
I don’t care who you are, that’s hard to do. It takes a lot of nerve. I’ve known men who have battled in war, fought raging forest fires, performed in front of thousands of people, and run straight into head on collisions with very large men, yet they’re scared to death of confronting their feelings for someone they care a lot about. I know a ton of women who are really strong out in the world, but have the same paralyzing fear of leaving themselves romantically vulnerable. Bravery in matters of the heart takes a whole different skill set than bravery in life.
We take lightly the notion that if someone cares about someone else enough, they will do something about it. In every romantic movie that comes out, one or more of the characters puts their heart on the line and makes some gesture in order to win the one they want. Of course they do. No one would want to watch the awful movie that drags on with a bunch of people playing it cool and then years later talking about the one that got away. So in real life, girls expect a man to profess his love by showing up with a boom box at their window, running in at the last-minute to stop a wedding, or by dedicating a karaoke song to them in the middle of a crowded bar. Guys expect a girl to flat-out say she likes him.
Unfortunately, all these expectations lead to missed chances because while one person waits for a gesture the other waits for a cue. Everyone waits for someone else to make a move. It’s like that Kitty Genovese murder where a girl got murdered for 30 minutes in clear sight in front of an apartment complex. None of the 12+ witnesses called the police to stop the murder because they assumed someone else already had. This phenomenon is aptly referred to in psychology as the “bystander effect.” The same is true on a personal level. We can get so caught up in waiting for someone to take control that we become a bystander in our own lives.
Think about all the times you’ve missed a quality opportunity because your doubts took over. Sometimes doubts are helpful. We can examine a prospect and realize that although we admire someone, we don’t have much in common or fit together well. However, sometimes doubts are just fears of failure that can cripple our chances of being happy. I can think of plenty of instances when I’ve shortchanged myself or someone else because I was scared of failing. I didn’t let someone in because his signs weren’t clear, pride got in the way, and I thought I might get played. I played it cool and acted like I didn’t care, and he found someone else. I thought he was out of my league, so I didn’t try. PLENTY. Life is too short.
We must vow to be the catalyst of change we need in our personal relationships, and we can’t be afraid of what may happen. Next time there’s a good chance, I’ll take it. If I lose, I lose with everything I’ve got. If I win, it will be a victory I’m proud of. Whatever the case may be, I won’t end up being that 90-year-old looking back and wondering what would have happened if I would’ve crossed the room and told him what he meant to me.