People have told me I’m scary, or unapproachable. It baffles me. They say I appear standoffish when I feel I am merely shy and reticent. I’m testing you out. I have to get to know a person before I can be warm and inviting, because so often that warmth and openness is rewarded with a stinger in the back. So in most of my interactions with people I don’t know well, I admit that my brain is trying to work out whether or not you deserve my warmth and love, both of which are ample and steadfast for those who earn it. When I do not know you well, however, I am testing your waters. Can I trust you? What kind of person are you?
You see, people are not always as nice as they appear on the surface, and I know that better than I’d like. People who have seem sweet and well-intentioned and earnest are often the most dangerous people I’ve come to meet. So I keep people at a distance until they earn my trust. I’m very big on trust being something that is earned and not something given along with a “how do you do.”
And I don’t want to be received as “scary” or “standoffish,” yet I can’t help but feel that so many people around me who perceive me as such conflate being courteous or approachable with what I see as intimacy.
I am the way I am because I am vulnerable. My feelings are easily hurt. When I allow it to love someone, my heart loves with blind abandon, and because it loves so blindly and unconditionally, it is easily broken. So I am careful who I let into it. I am the way I am around people I don’t know well, not because I am scary, but because I am fragile. I seem very strong to most people, and those who are close to me always remark on how strong I am. But they don’t get it. My heart is not iron-clad—far from it. It is big, soft and stupid, and if I don’t work hard to protect it, it will open up for everyone and it will bleed for them. If I do not protect my heart, it’s like wearing a target on my chest. If I show it to you before I know you will be careful, all you will see is how easy it is to break me apart. And so many people can’t resist destroying that which is so easy to destroy, like the sudden urge to crush a beetle on the sidewalk.
I’ve never understood why people—myself included—are so scared of insects and spiders. They can crush them under their boot in a nanosecond, without even a second thought.
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