Of love, Carol Shields once wrote, “Love is not, anywhere, taken seriously. It’s not respected. It’s the one thing in the world everyone wants, but for some reason people are obliged to pretend that love is trifling and foolish.” My question is, Why? Why are people so ashamed to admit that they love and are open to being loved, but they aren’t afraid to express other emotions — hatred, anger, even shame and embarrassment…? Perhaps it boils down to a fear of being vulnerable. Once we lose our fear of vulnerability and realize the power of vulnerability rather than the paralyzing resistance to it, we are allowed to feel love in all of its beauty. And we don’t have to be afraid anymore. If we do it enough, soon could even feel more natural and uninhibited than the fears we feel moving and reaching toward ‘love’.
I’m no longer afraid of being vulnerable, nor am I afraid of love. I feel like I’ve been asleep my whole life. I feel like there was always something missing but I never even noticed it until I found it, and once I found it I realized fully that there was a hole in my heart, one I ignored or just noticed. Like when we reach into an old jacket pocket and our fingers poke through, and all our change, or crumbs, are gone.
For this, I am grateful. Being afraid of love doesn’t do anyone any favours. It doesn’t help us ease our fear of being vulnerable. It doesn’t help us change anything around in our lives. Being afraid of love has us putting up walls, convincing ourselves we’re happy when we’re not, or that we want something we don’t actually want, or that this meaninglessness we feel is the fault of the world and not ourselves. I felt meaningless sometimes.
I had periods of meaninglessness. And in those moments I blamed the patriarchy and I blamed the horrors of the world and how exhausting the 21st century is. But in order to take back our 20th century values and place them into this new era of social media and technology and aimless millennials who are confused as to what to do with life, we should remember being vulnerable. We should remember walking into kindergarten on the first day and recall how it feels to be ‘new’ in the world again.
We need to remember our first love; how jump-up-and-down-squealing excited we were when we had that first kiss, and how shattered we felt when it was all over and an illusion. We need to remember that our big mistakes and how we cope with them came from a place of learning how smaller mistakes, like spilling milk and breaking a lamp helped us with being real adults who could feel and articulate feelings and be vulnerable enough to voice our screw-ups, lean on someone’s shoulder without being ashamed and say without any “but” that we’re sorry. Once you can do these things, you learn enough about your flourishing soul to know you can accept love in its rawest and most authentic form.
I’m happy and proud to say this is me now, or as close to this as I have ever been.