“So…what do you see us becoming?”
As I let the words frolic around in my head and its awfully familiar timber ring in my ear, an unsettling chill shot through me. In the piercing momentary silence punctuated by nervous heartbeats, I slipped into my subconscious, and entertained an internal dialogue between a me who is still paralysed by the heartbreaking vestige of the past and a me who, despite bearing a hurtful history, choose to sally forth in bold steps into the wild unknown.
This is all too familiar. The tone, brimming with anticipation, pregnant with hope, an overture to innumerable other promises, exclusive companionship, unbuckling support, to a future together. I fixed my gaze upon him, thinking about how incredulous it is of him to be asking me this question without a sign of uncertainty. It’s too soon for him to be asking me this, I thought. It has only been our second time seeing each other face to face, even though we have kept in touch very regularly via Telegram. I am faced with a sea of questions. Am I sure I know him well enough? Are we even compatible? What exactly does he mean by this? Short-term? Long-term? Friends with benefits? How the heck does he feel comfortable and confident enough to broach this question on our second date as we casually lied on our backs counting the leaves on the frangipanni tree, waiting for the sun to set? Lastly and the most daunting question of all, “Will I get hurt? What if he is not really ready?”
A couple of months back, I had to deal with the aftermath of a disaster, an unnecessary meltdown, a failure that could have never happened in the first place had he thought things through thoroughly and made the decisions that truly resonated with his own emotional state and readiness. I have long been toying with the idea of it alone in the confines and privacy of my own room on 3am nights. I was so, so ready to commit, the moment he popped the question, I immediately agreed. And so I plunged, headfirst, into the lacuna that turned out to be a lightless void, a dead end that did not take many steps to reach.
The answer I gave him was one that I felt was the most honest and true to how I was feeling but it was clear he wasn’t entirely happy with it. Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s my fragile little mind already in the works of erecting a defensive structure around its soft and vulnerable core, maybe it’s me and my aversion towards risk-taking. Maybe it’s me and my stupid little romantic fantasies of meeting “the one” and knowing that he is “the one” for me and that I can rest assured that he would never ever leave my side for reasons trivial or otherwise.
I have never felt two contrasting emotions so intensely at the same time. In the moment, my heart was stretched to its absolute maximum, till the rubbery sinews became a ghastly white string, as fear and excitement tugged mercilessly in opposite ends, threatening to rip it apart. The ache, deep and tremendous, woke something in me. It’s not just me who is risk-averse. No one like to gamble, no one likes risky situations, especially if it involves putting out your heart, your deepest, darkest emotions and vulnerabilities on the table, exhibiting them to someone you think you truly know but can’t say for sure. I can’t be the only one so helplessly indoctrinated by the idea of romantic love, of meeting “the one” and seeing forever flash in front of my eyes in that instant. Won’t everything be smooth-sailing and easy and effortless and perfect if even the love of my life is served to me on a silver plate?
But, what, then, is life without taking risks, without failures, without the struggle, the fight we put up for the things we value, want and cherish? What is life if we aren’t willing to put ourselves out there, to revel in the nakedness, the rawness of our emotions, to hurt just that little more, to look back after a victorious pursuit or fight and finally realising the worth of our struggles even in hindsight? As much as we want to feel guarded, protected and go through life unscathed, we should know better that the scars we got from the things we fear — rejection, disappointment, unfulfilled promises or even the “forever” that got a full-stop appended to it at the most unexpected time — aren’t just injuries that should be plastered over nor avoided, they are battle wounds of a glorious, noble warrior, each with its own unique story to tell, each a symbol of the growth of an individual at a particular stage in his or her life.
“…stability isn’t nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand.” — Brave New World | Aldous Huxley
So, fear nothing and take the plunge. It will all be worth it.