Love & Relationships

2017 Love Goal: Let Yourself Be Seen

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Remember when your mom would take you to Walmart to choose little Valentine cards for your class in elementary school? Complete with your favorite Disney character or superhero, a “To” line, and a “From” line, these rectangular notes were just about everything.

I took my childhood Valentine card game quite seriously. Not only did I have to choose the perfect box each year (I’m pretty sure Pocahontas won two years in a row), I had to make sure the right person got the right character on their card.

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My BFF got the prettiest. The girl who was mean to me got the lamest. And the boy I had a puppy love crush on – well he could not know, for the love of all things pure and holy, that I thought he was cute in any way, shape, or form – so he got the subtlest.

And in Kindergarten, we had Barbie brand crayons. Rumor had it among Ms. Norton’s class of 5-year-olds – if you used a Barbie crayon, you were secretly in love with someone at your shared table.

Nobody touched the Barbie crayons. Ever. Because Eww Cuties!

You see, that’s the thing about young childhood love: the trick is to never let on. Do. Not. Say. A. Word.

Then we grow up and learn the love is actually cool and sexy, so we get a new boyfriend every 4.2 weeks.

Then we grow up some more and learn that love is actually a flipping mess of all messes. That guy does not actually love you. He likes her better. He likes alcohol better. He likes porn better. He likes [fill in the blank] better.

So what do we do? We hide, pretend, or shrink.

  • Hiding is all about going under the radar with our real thoughts and opinions, our bodies, our personalities, and our pasts.
  • Pretending is all about showing up as another person. Like Halloween, but it’s your actual life. “Oh I’m like a cool I totally love watching football on Sunday nights with you and won’t ever complain if you go to a strip club later” when you’re really thinking “I want to watch Netflix in my fleece PJs, and if you touch her, I’ll cut you.”
  • Shrinking is the slyest game of all. Because you’re kinda you, but the small, quiet version. If you want to laugh too loudly, you quiet it down. If your ambition is pulsing through your veins, you make it seem like only a maybe-someday-dream.

This, my friends, is reverting back to Pocahontas Valentine cards and Barbie crayons. We started out scared of love because it is mysterious and unknown; and somehow we often end right back up at fear – but this time it’s because we know love too well. We know it hurts sometimes.

But it’s time to grow up. We have to let ourselves – our real, true, honest selves- be seen. No more hiding. No more pretending. No more shrinking.

How To Be Seen In Love 101

  • Take a change on the friend who could be more than a friend
  • Make the first move if you want to
  • Say no if you do not want to do something; say yes if you do
  • Do not fear “I like you” or even “I love you” – say them – even say them first
  • Wear what you like to wear
  • Talk about things you believe in; opinions are not off limits
  • Tell him about your aspirations and ambitions
  • Suggest a place to eat, even if you don’t think it’s his thing
  • Laugh fully and loudly
  • Stay silent when you prefer to just enjoy the moment, you don’t need to fill air
  • Say “I disagree”
  • Tell him the raw story of your past once he’s earned the right to hear it

And if you’ve been with your love for a long time, still be seen:

  • Plan a date that gets you out of your norm
  • Tell him what you are struggling with at work
  • Brag a bit on your latest victory
  • Don’t always turn off the lights; show him your body
  • Say “You know, I think I changed by mind about that”
  • Discuss your future and what you would like
  • Clue him in on your new passion
  • Talk about trying something new in the bedroom… or with your decor… or with dinner

You may do these things, and it may not go well. It’s scary to be vulnerable. You may be rejected. The whole “falling in love” thing could feel more like “crashing and burning.” You may get knocked down. You may feel defeated.

But listen: If he doesn’t fall in love with the real you, that’s not a connection. If he doesn’t stay in love with the real you, that’s not a real connection.

You know what is worse than being honest about who you are and it not working out? Living as a ghost, a mere shadow of who you truly are. Nobody can ever love a shadow.

Take a risk, show that someone who you are and what you really think. Give them the best Valentine card, not the subtlest. Use the Barbie crayon that shows the world the real you. Go all out. Make a splash. Be seen.

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