This is a tough thing to write about. I have no idea how much of my thoughts are logic and how much are colored by my feelings. I’m not even sure where the line is between the two. I don’t believe so much in hard and fast lines anyway. I’ve always believed more in nuances and grey areas. When I learned the concept of paradox, I was enthralled, and I felt strangely vindicated. Like all this time I thought lines were blurred between ideas and feelings, and thoughts and words and feelings and even knowledge, and that they aren’t entirely independent of one another, mutually exclusive. If one wants to understand others, is it virtually impossible? Do we have too much access to ideas and “facts” and data to ever come together and agree on anything? Or understand each other?
We do know on some level that like is attracted to like: so why the phrase “opposites attract”? Well, it is also true. Opposite personalities can easily attract, when we allow them to, especially in meaningful and/or romantic ways.
We see examples right now of like attracted to like in terms of politics and social culture on social media. Pretty extreme examples. We make assumptions about each other based on physical features, choice of clothing, presence, tone, voice, word choice, and so on. Even when we choose to get to know one another, we hurt each other with words and actions—often unintentionally! So what’s the use in trying? People often tell me I am too sensitive. I’ve gotten to where I often tell people in response that they are not sensitive enough. Is that even fair? How abstract or arbitrary or relative is the word sensitive anyway?
All this is to say that I had a conversation with a friend this morning about rejection and connection. We discussed how it seems as though I have been rejected in pretty severe ways by an “extra” amount of people than most. I have no idea if this is true, or what that truth even means if it is true.
We also discussed how I am so open and leave myself so vulnerable so much of the time. I love the way Brené Brown talks about vulnerability. So many people wear faces and put on airs and try to impress. I’m not saying I never do those things, but my friend who knows me very well said that I am wide open. I jokingly called it balls to the wall. We laughed. But then what she said was that that is why I get hurt more often, rejected, because I crave connection. I search for it. I long for it. I go for it. I don’t hold back, or assume that I should hold back. As I’ve said in other blogs, I have been told I should hold back.
Some people take My openness and honesty as aggressive, I think. But when I do connect because other people choose to connect with me, it is very beautiful and very joyful. My friend is the one that really laid this out for me. She said she chooses not to interact with a lot of people, because she is afraid of getting hurt. She said she thinks that has allowed her to have fewer opportunities for the joys as well. Maybe this is true. I think maybe it is. It just makes me so incredibly sad and hurt when people reject me outright.
I always thought that by my age, I wouldn’t care if people rejected me. I think it hurts just as much as it always did. I could give scads of examples of people who also connected very deeply with me, or so I thought, and then unexpectedly entirely disappeared from my life. Sometimes I don’t know how or why they did it, if I offended them in someway, or was “too much.” Others like to say, it’s not about you Holly. It’s about them. I have a hard time burning bridges, letting go, and maybe that seems desperate. Recently a neighbor friend noted to me that I stay home too much, even before the quarantine, and that I should get out more, and in the same breath told me I gave people too much information.
I’ve heard that one before. I’ve also heard that I should compartmentalize. That all of these parts of my life, for example personal, emotional, professional, social, etc. should all be separate in my mind and in my life. I really thought about that. I teach my students about metacognition. I try desperately to practice it myself. However, perspective is a real bitch. I don’t even think it necessarily helps all the time. Am I supposed to really have some sort of major clarity about how I reacted to someone and if it was wrong or right? Am I supposed to have learned the “right” way to act?
Rejection just always hurts. I recently hurt a friend unintentionally with a question I asked them that apparently seemed as though I was making assumptions about them. Maybe that’s exactly what it was. Maybe I didn’t trust them. Maybe, despite the fact that I want to see the best in people, it becomes harder. I’ve come to the conclusion that my spirit is broken in many ways. I want to have confidence, and I do in some areas, but in others I am still a little tiny child just wanting to be loved. That sounds so cliché, but clichés are such for a reason. Maybe I am too sensitive. Maybe I do say too much.
Maybe I should just really want to change who I am or who I think I am and realize I have to be something else for people to respect me or want to connect with me. Maybe that change is about bettering myself? But maybe it’s not. Identity is a strange thing, but it’s one thing that I feel I have. It’s not about identifying myself as someone with mental illness or being too sensitive, but simply loving myself where I am right now and realizing I can always do better, but also realizing that I’m not the only broken one, and other people can do better too, and we can connect in our brokenness without wanting to fix each other, and I don’t have to do all that work for them, and they don’t have to do all that work for me.
I have a lot of love that I want to give, and I don’t want to give it with stipulations that anyone has to give it back, or want to understand me back, but I think I will always crave true connection with people, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think we were put on this earth to love. Whether that means we understand each other is certainly another thing. However, I do think putting ourselves out there and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable can allow for a lot of really good things to happen, and I really kind of wish that more people would do it. I feel pretty alone in that space. I do think it takes strength and bravery. Do I think I’m always right? No. But when I read someone like Brené Brown, or Jen Hatmaker, or James Baldwin, I think that’s what they are talking about too, and how important that is to allow ourselves to connect in our pain as well as in our joy,To be vulnerable enough to put ourselves out there to be connected with or rejected. I wish it didn’t have to be some binary, and I don’t totally think it is. The person I recently hurt, not on purpose, hurt me (not on purpose) too. They said they would rather be alone than to have to defend themselves against people who don’t understand them. I totally get that. I think I sway back-and-forth between feeling that way and being vulnerable and trying to connect again. But no matter what, I still think I will just always want to connect, and I will likely always be sad when others don’t want to.