It’s true what they say, you know. When you’re young, you feel invincible. As a five-year-old, you rode your bike as fast as you little legs would take you, hurled yourself off ski jumps, bounced recklessly on the trampoline… until you fell and broke your arm. After that, you probably found yourself riding a little more slowly, skiing a little more carefully, bouncing a little less foolishly.
You believe wholeheartedly that nothing can possibly happen to you… until it does. And when it does, your mentality is transformed in an instant.
Love and relationships, I’ve found, are no different.
As you grow, you become acutely aware of the world swirling around you, how people perceive you and how you portray yourself.
Just like my five-year-old self flying through the mountains at top speed, I entered my first relationship with the same vengeance, the same carelessness and continued to love as hard as I possibly could for the first quarter of my life. Never satisfied, I was constantly searching for more, seeking out challenges, trying to find that “one thing” that always seemed to be missing.
It took me until I was around 27 to really have my heart completely smashed. Blindsided by infidelity, I was shell-shocked. Ego bruised, I fixated on one mission: superficially mask my pain by quickly finding my “next” true love, not taking the proper time to heal following that relationship. I swiftly and efficiently zeroed in on my target, and moved in.
Once again, I threw myself headfirst into something without much thought. My ego was thirsty for a quick fix, something to soothe the pain of heartbreak. As warning signs and red flags began to pepper the relationship, I dug my heels stubbornly into the (quick)sand and held tightly on to his hand. My subconscious was screaming at me, but for some reason, I steadfastly ignored it. Something within me would simply not let me entertain the fact that this relationship that I had decided I wanted with my whole heart and soul, was marred my blemishes from the very beginning. I actually remember early on in the relationship, having a dream where this angel-looking woman walked up to my bed and said “it will never be you”. I woke up sobbing, but swiftly and effortlessly, the same old self-sabotaging thought patterns began to go to work, dousing my fears with thoughts of romantic delusions.
Of course, my ego took a real bad blow when, eventually, that relationship went up into a pile of flames… the angel-looking woman from my dream had been right the whole time. Why didn’t I listen to her? Why did I blindly skip down the path I had taken so many times before, allowing it to lead me to the same ol’ place?
And so now, here I find myself. The ultimate (and I mean ultimate) champion of true love, paralyzed by fear, knowing that my sensitive heart can’t take much more.
Following my last failed attempt, I took some time to really think about what I had been doing wrong. Why, when the one thing I cherished most in the world was love, did I continually find myself unsatisfied and unhappy, a nagging sense of emptiness plaguing my every relationship? After much journaling, soul-searching and Googling (I am a Millennial, after all), I have finally been able to pinpoint my Achilles heel.
My ego is an asshole.
Not only that, but I need to give my ego a god damn reality check, because it’s sabotaging me in every capacity.
My ego has sabotaged me every time I tried to force a relationship that wasn’t right, simply because I felt like I should be able to make it work.
My ego has sabotaged me every time I tried to dilute facets of my personality, hide my flaws, and mould myself into who and what I thought the person I was dating wanted me to be.
My ego has sabotaged me every time I tried to control my relationships and force them into exactly what I wanted, giving no thought or care as to what was important to my partner.
But most of all, my ego has sabotaged me by paralyzing my every move with the fear of rejection. Terrified of “looking stupid” I have recently found myself censoring my words and burying my feelings. If I don’t express them, if I don’t tell “the guy” the truth – that I actually like him – I have zero chance of getting hurt, right?
But what if I did tell him? What if I told my pain-in-the-ass ego to STFU and just poured it all out there. What could possibly happen?
Obviously, The Worst Thing In The World is that he wouldn’t feel the same, I would feel like an idiot and I would be left with a broken heart. But… is it really The Worst Thing In The World? I’ve now been through a couple good ol’ fashion heart-smashings, and guess what? I’m still here, still breathing. Not only am I still breathing, but going through those heart-smashings taught me how resilient I am and how completely, totally, okay I am on my own. I’ve been through some shit, you guys (as we all have), and that’s what I will remind myself every time my ego starts crying like the big, pathetic, whiny baby that it is, when some dude doesn’t text when he says he would.
And if The Worst Thing In The World doesn’t happen, you know what might? He might feel it back, and you might open the door to something indescribable.
It doesn’t help that we Millennial women were raised on a diet heavy on the reminders that “men are hunters, make them hunt you”, and instructions to “not give away the cow when he can get the milk for free” (that’s not completely right but it’s bullshit anyways). We have it ingrained in our thoughts that we need to just sit back, act unavailable, and let boys come to you. I, for one, am constantly trying to remind myself that it’s ok to send the first text, it’s fine to act interested if you’re interested.
If you’re dating someone, and they like you and you like them… you guys should hopefully not have to play any games. Your ego shouldn’t be threatened, because if homie likes you, he’s going to text you back… simple as that. And if he wants to play games? Have at him, sister, because I’m out.
Relationships are scary… I get it. The possibility of getting hurt is scary, the chance of being rejected is scary and this whole “ghosting” phenomenon is not only scary, it’s just plain fucked up.
But you know what is even more scary, to me? The thought of missing out on something unimaginable, something that fills your soul up with the kind of warmth you haven’t felt since you were five-years old, simply because your ego took hold of your ability to open up and let something happen.
My point is, when it comes to dating and relationships, make a conscious effort to shut your ego the fuck down at every point and be vulnerable. Stop being blindly led and start having thoughtful, honest conversations with yourself. Make your actions matter. If you want to tell him, tell him… but don’t do it just so he says it back and gives your ego the hit it is constantly nagging you for.
Stop turning to your ego when you need direction, and instead, turn to your soul.
And above all else, don’t be afraid to open yourself up and be vulnerable. Great risks yield great rewards, homie. And if we can just get past that pesky ego, I think our five-year-old selves (and futures selves) will be both grateful, and proud.