18/07/2017 09:52 BST | Updated 18/07/2017 09:52 BST

Taking The Leap: Learning To Love Again


Author's own photo from my Instagram page.

In case you hadn't realised by now, love can kinda suck. I mean, really suck.

Or, rather, what human beings do with love can suck. We find ones we like and who like us and we say, "okay", and we do the handshake and think we've made a deal and we take the flying leap into the abyss, praying the whole way down that they're jumping with us, or that they're waiting at the bottom, ready to catch us.

And sometimes they do, and it's perfect and it's magical and we wonder why we were ever afraid in the first place.

But other times, they don't. And THAT's when it sucks.

The sad fact of life is that, *SPOILER ALERT*, people are going to hurt you. And you don't get to decide who, or when, or if it happens at all. It's completely uncontrollable, and this scares you. So what do you do?

You take your precious things: you take your books and your CDs, your memories and your secrets, your passions and your dreams, and you lock them all away in tiny wooden boxes where you think they'll be safe because nobody can touch them there. Nobody can see in.

But you don't realise that, in hiding yourself away, you only hurt yourself more.

Because you see, the most beautiful parts of a life are the ones that we share with other people. It's the parts where we feel so raw and open and vulnerable; where we're sharing the most intimate parts of ourselves with somebody and learning about them and seeing what they're passionate about and what makes them sad and happy and afraid, where we're so close to the absolute core of their being, it's then that we feel most alive.

And if, out of fear, you decide not to open yourself up, you won't ever experience that. You'll never get to see that girl talk about how her dad died and it broke her heart and she couldn't stand the smell of coffee and fresh cut grass because it smelled like Sunday mornings with him. Or the way that guy talks about his mum and all the things she does which drive him crazy but that he says with a smile because really, he wouldn't change a thing.

You'll never have these moments because, if you don't open yourself up to other people, why would they open up to you? Why should they give away the most precious pieces of themselves when the person that they're opening up to won't reciprocate that? Yes, it's scary to open up to somebody with such a huge level of hurt as a potential outcome.

But you HAVE to do it.

Because one day you're going to look back on your life and you're going to realise that you didn't know anybody, and nobody ever knew you. Nobody ever understood you. And in your grand attempt to not open up and not be close to people, you ended up hurting yourself more than anyone else could because you denied yourself one of the most wonderful parts of being human.

Don't get me wrong, opening up can get you hurt. And it's not always out of choice or on purpose, but because we're curious and we're selfish and we always want more. If we aren't satisfied, we look elsewhere and, sadly, we forget the damage and the hurt and the ramifications of these decisions. We forget that we are capable of inflicting a tremendous amount of hurt.

But we're also capable of an incredible amount of healing, of compassion and understanding. And that's all we're searching for. Somebody who understands us. Who maybe doesn't share all of the same traits and passions and hobbies as we do, but who sees the way that your eyes light up when you talk about your favourite film or song or book, and that makes them love you even more. This is all we're looking for, really. When we break it down, all we want is someone who gets us.

And if you never open up, that won't ever happen.

Sure, closing yourself off means you don't risk going through the anger and betrayal and sadness and three tubs of ice cream that you bury yourself in when something doesn't work out and you wonder when or how or if you'll ever love again, but it passes. It's temporary. And in your stubborn quest to avoid those few dark moments of your life because you're scared, you miss out on some of the most beautiful parts of it. People think adventure is packing your bags and buying a ticket and travelling the world, when maybe the biggest adventure of all is the journey we share when we let ourselves love.

So don't be a coward.

You have so much to give and so much to offer. To close your heart and say, "no, never again" and choose not to love is the most selfish thing you could do. People want to know you. People want to love you. So don't you ever hide yourself away. Don't think that what one person did to you defines you or dictates how other people will treat you. Do not blame the world for one person's mistakes. And do not ever allow one experience the power to make you live a life in the dark.

Brush it off, add it to the list of things which make you stronger, and learn to love again.



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