I really, really hate being vulnerable.
There have been moments in life when I have completely ducked my head into the sand, or covered my ears and said, “Lalalala! Not listening!” or – my personal favorite – simply announced, “I do not want to talk about this,” and walked out of the room as if that moment was something that could be left in a room like an old box of photographs.
None of this makes me special, of course.
It’s human nature. We want to protect our hearts, especially once they’ve been broken. Criticism is scary. Being left or rejected by someone we care for is terrifying. Taking risks, or rather the risk of failure, is so scary it’s paralyzing.
The problem with ducking your head in the sand, or covering your ears, or walking away, is the fatigue. Eventually, your neck and arms and legs are so tired you just want to sit down and cry. Which, in the end, is a far more vulnerable place to be.
Peering out over the edge of the plane last May, I hesitated. My whole being froze and said, “No.” This probably happens all the time. Luckily, I was strapped like a baby kangaroo to a human being more bold than myself.
Floating to the ground, I had feelings that were unexpressed and – suddenly – they seemed a lot more important. I wanted to tell someone, “You matter to me.”
Then, I decided against it because I was too afraid.
Within a few days, this same hesitation began showing up everywhere. Not that it was new, it’s probably always been there, it had just never been quite so apparent before. After a few encounters, impatience got the best of me. I started making the jump more and more, in matters big and small.
Then, I found and read this book.
Then, I wondered: Maybe it’s not really jumping, maybe it’s all just falling.
Despite the topic of the book, this is not about falling in love or romance. This is not limited to so-called “matters of the heart.*” This is about hesitating – or holding back – because you think it will keep you safe. It won’t. Nothing really can.
I finally pulled the trigger and drafted a note to the person in question, a role model. It turned out just fine.
If you’re in a situation now where you’re hesitating to share appreciation for someone, ask a difficult question, or even say goodbye, I challenge you to act and to do it soon. Don’t rush it but don’t feed the fear either.
Eventually, if you’re persistent, you’ll be able to make the jump (fall?) without hesitation.
*What isn’t a “matter of the heart?”