Have any of you ever seen 500 Days of Summer? The quirky film that first showed Zooey Deschanel’s real potential and amazing ability to pull off full bangs, and where all the teen girls realized Joseph Gordon-Levitt was a hipster girl’s dream? To be honest, I didn’t like the film, because the ending was disappointing, but for some reason, I can’t erase one of the scenes from my mind.
Gordon-Levitt’s character is missing Deschanel’s character and there is a sequence of events in which his character goes through “Expectation” and “Reality.” He has high hopes for their relationship, but in every situation he has carefully imagined, he ends up being disappointed in the most negative way possible. I think the reason I can’t forget this scene is because it is extremely relatable.
In 4th grade, I had high hopes. There was a skate party (shame on you if you don’t know what I mean) and every girl’s dream was for a boy to ask them to “hold hands” while roller-skating to a really popular NSYNC song. My 4th grade crush, who was liked by many, would surely be there. So my expectations soared; I thought, “yes, this WILL be the time he asks me to skate with him” or “maybe he’ll skate backwards while holding both my hands” and other things a 4th grade girl would dream of. What was the reality of these skate parties? Me, skating with a few friends to NSYNC and falling over myself because I got too cocky with my need for speed. Needless to say, it was disappointing and in some sense, my hopes were a little crushed by the reality of what had happened.
Now, you might be sitting here reading this, and probably laughing, thinking “this girl has lost it, it was the 4th grade.” And I wouldn’t blame you. But the point I’m trying to make is that I have experienced disappointments, minor to major, and each time, it has affected the way I think about how people view me, but also how I view myself and opportunities to come.
Let’s think about meeting a guy, getting a new job, meeting new people, or even improving your self-confidence: suddenly, that nasty little whisper comes in. He won’t like you, it says. You’re not qualified, it will repeat with disdain. You might as well stay home alone, because you’re too awkward and ordinary to really meet anyone new, it says again. You might as well give up. It echoes through your mind and resonates all the way down to your soul. And you believe it, because there’s nothing to contradict it.
Who is this little voice? Why do we let it win more often than not?
The voice has a name–it’s fear.
A very wise person told me once that your subconscious does what it can to protect you. It’s a very delicate part of you and when it deals with anything that’s relatively traumatic, however you decide to deal with that, it will familiarize itself with the pattern and repeat in order to protect. Thus we land ourselves into an endless cycle: We have the grandest dreams, the most elevated hopes. Then reality does not meet our expectations. Then the next time a good opportunity comes around, we become extremely negative and tell ourselves to abandon all hope, because we are reacting to fear of being hurt again. We cannot bear to stand the pain that will come. The subconscious forms a safety net and it says, if you tell yourself you’re not good enough first, it’ll hurt less when someone else says so.
Heart protected, but darkness rolls in overhead. What good is this really doing for us?
I’ll tell you from personal experience: letting your subconscious rule your life and emotions is a bad idea. In fact, trying to save yourself from pain actually only makes it worse. We are so terrified of being let down, of not being good enough, that we let fear control the way we live, but even more so, how we see ourselves.
It all stems from a lack of self-love. We don’t believe we are lovable, thus no one will love us. If you realize it sooner or later, it must be right…. Yes? No. I can’t tell you how wrong this logic is. It is difficult to be vulnerable, but hiding away, bashing yourself, or being negative only hurts more and it leads you to miss out on even more opportunities to be happy.
I’m no expert, friends. I still struggle with this. But the first step is to recognize your fear and why you’re afraid. Then ask yourself if it’s rational, if it isn’t, let it go. Try and give yourself a little love, and even more importantly, try to have hopes, aspirations, “delusions” of grandeur. Try to reach them.
Try and trust that it will always work out in the end and if it didn’t, then something greater is coming. I’ve learned to be thankful for the times things didn’t work out. And oddly enough, I am thankful that I never had the opportunity to hold hands with a boy while roller-skating (mainly because I would’ve broken some bone or other). I believe that you and I are good and worthy of love.