Where do you feel the most safe, the most free to be yourself- where do you let your guard down?
For the past four and a half years, the word “safe” has been something that has been rarely used to describe how I feel. Throughout the last few years, letting my guard down has sort of been like turning a light switch on and off; mostly because the places and people that I considered to be a safe haven were always changing; this was especially true when I was sixteen. The summer before my junior year of high school, one of my closest friends walk out of my life, and so far hasn’t really come back. My freshman year of college, I got to know a lot of people and felt like I had found a place with them, but that notion eventually went out the window. My family relationships have always been a bit shaky, at least up until now.
So it’s not that I’ve ever had that kind of experience, because I have. It’s just that while I’ve always had a warm, cozy place to find comfort in, I somehow always end up out right back out in the cold.
And I suppose that might be my fault, in a way. I’ve come to realize that I have a tendency to get comfortable with people in a short amount of time. It’s not in my nature to build up walls and wait for them to be broken down. Perhaps I take the phrase “I’ll be there for you” too easily to heart. On top of that, I’m already sensitive about somebody telling me that they’re going to do something, and then not following through with it.
I don’t mean to wallow or complain. It has been a very tough year, emotionally, and it has made me really look at who I choose to be friends with and who I choose to invest in.
I will say that there are definitely some wonderful people in my life right now; people that I feel safe and comfortable with. However, it has (and still is) taken time for me to genuinely open myself to those people. This may sound weird coming from me, because normally I’m not afraid to say what’s on my mind. But, being vulnerable does scare the crap out of me sometimes. There’s just no way of knowing how anybody will react when you tell them something, whether it be about your past or current.
I’ve learned that in order to let my guard down around someone, that following things need to be there: 1. There needs to be humor; I tell you, there is nothing more awkward when you can’t laugh either with or at whomever you’re with. I have a lot of quirks, and sometimes one just has to take that with a grain of salt. 2. There needs to be comfortable silence, that element of being able to simply enjoy spending time with someone and not having to necessarily talk the whole time. 3. Know how to listen.
I’ve said this before, but I don’t think it’s about if you should be real with people; it’s how you go about doing it. You don’t need to tell your life story to someone right when you meet them, and you definitely don’t have to limit it to one conversation. There are details that I’ve kept from certain people because I’m either waiting for them to ask, or I’m waiting for the right time to talk about it. Forming genuine friendships takes a lot of time and patience, and there’s no rush to get to a particular point.
As much as we’d all like to keep ourselves from getting hurt, I don’t think that there’s any special way to do it. From my experiences, the key thing is to simply trust your instincts. I’ve gotten pretty good at sizing people up (not judging, but rather picking up on traits and characteristics about a person), and I normally have a good idea of whether or not to trust them.
In the midst of the possible risks and the fear that comes with them, I’ve found that there is no greater feeling then knowing someone and being able to understand them, as well as the other way around. Despite my personal history, I understand that it’s not worth robbing myself of the chance to have close friendships, simply because they might leave at some point in the future.
Stuff happens, and instead of trying to figure out why, maybe it’s best to cherish what’s right in front of you while you have it.