The Words Left Unsaid

Sometimes the hardest goodbyes are the ones that are found underneath a blanket of silence. After the fact, you try to search for any signs or hints of where it all started to go wrong. Perhaps knowing when it all started to fall apart, that knowledge would ultimately help in your quest to bring it back together and fix the damage that had been done.  But to your dismay, there are no breadcrumbs to follow, no white elephants visibly standing in the corner of the millions of rooms that you searched. And then you’re left wondering, wading in the waters of your thoughts. You feel as if you’re struggling to keep afloat and eventually you find it hard to breath. Your brain starts playing tricks on you, in order to relieve the pain. You wake up and smell their scent lingering on your pillow, you hear their laughter carried by the wind, you feel their touch as the darkness of night grows deep and unbearable.

The scenarios play out in your head and you imagine the day that you meet once again. Perhaps that day will signal the start of another chapter, a chapter where there exists an us once again. Perhaps on that day, all the words that were left unsaid will be spoken and brought into the light. And perhaps that day does not exist. Perhaps that reality is merely a faraway dream that is not meant to come true. And the fact of the matter is, you will never get the closure that you so desperately desire. You will remain in a state of emotional pain and you must live with the fact that the words left unsaid will always linger in the corner of your heart. This is a reality for some and the past for others. However, I will say this: You will be okay. Maybe it will take months. Maybe it will take years. But at the end of everything, you will be okay. These were the words that I wish I heard. These were the words that were left unsaid.

Being Afraid of the “L” Word

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We all know this word. Some people adore it, others are disgusted by even a single thought of it. It can invite people in or it can drive them away – sometimes in tears. And if someone does mention this word, I’m sure one, if not a few, visual images come into our mind. If you thought of a lizard, then I applaud you for such creativity. But unfortunately, this “L” word that I’m talking about is not a lizard; it’s love.

Love is talked about all over social media, written in books and blog posts, and even a topic of conversation in our daily lives. Love can be found everywhere the eye can see and is sometimes hard to ignore. Even when I was once a prepubescent teenager I was enamored by the very idea of “love” and how much I would love to have someone to share that feeling of love with. And now at 23 years old, I still feel that way about the “L” word – only sometimes, though.

I use the word sometimes because I have come to be afraid of the “L” word. Like many, I’ve experienced my fair share of heartbreak in the form of actual break-ups, missed opportunities, and one-sided crushes. It can be difficult bouncing back from the shattered pieces of what you thought was love. Now, it is nothing more than spilled milk waiting to be cleaned up from the floor, counter, or where ever it spilled. And as the saying goes, “There’s no use in crying over spilled milk.” However, I never really followed that meaning with vindication and still managed to cry over the-said “spilled milk.”

Now, many of you may be wonder what was the condition of this milk, how did it spill, and so on. To give you the full details would take hours, possibly days, maybe even three or four more blog posts. But to keep short and sweet, there were three incidents that caused me to develop a fear of the “L” word.

  1. She was my first love. And she was also my first unrequited love. Some may classify it differently, but I believe in my heart that I loved her. I confessed to her many times and asked her to be my girlfriend, but unfortunately she would always so no. I always had a feeling that something could happen, however, nothing actually did. Then in college I found out she wouldn’t date me because if she did, she thought that would be it and she would eventually settle for me. Ouch.
  2. My second love. This occurred in the middle of high school and we met through a friend. But we only started “talking” to each other a year later – via Myspace (Let the judgement commence). Although she didn’t agree to be my girlfriend, we dated for about nine months. I honestly thought we were doing fine, and then she suddenly drops a bomb: “I think we should just be friends.” Cue snippets of (500) Days of Summer. Agreement, emptiness, another girlfriend, realization that I still loved my second love, a not-so-sweet ending that ended in her hating me. Double ouch.
  3. My official third love. We met during my study abroad period in Korea. We got into a Korean drama-esque love rectangle: I liked her, she liked our friend and our friend had a girlfriend. We went on a date but I know the feelings weren’t mutual. At least she gave me a chance and we all still managed to remain as international friends. Less severe, yet still ouch.

Now, I have had pleasant encounters with love in the form of family and friends. But now when I think about the intimate love that is shared between two significant others, that frightens me. These incidents made me fall into a belief that if the feeling isn’t mutual then I should just pack up, leave, and return to my castle of solitude without even attempting to court the person I’m interested in. Some people may criticize me for thinking this way and that’s okay. I would also like to note I do not regret falling in love with these wonderful individuals. With their help I was able to learn more about myself, think differently about various aspects of life, and encouraged me to keep searching for my own form of happiness. All these good things happened along with the bad.

I also believe that being afraid of the “L” word has a few perks. I have grown to be more cautious. When I realize I’m interested in someone, I take some time to confirm whether my feelings are real or just a momentary attraction towards that person. Do I see myself in a relationship with them? Or do I just want to kiss them and feel their body pressed up against mine? Another perk that comes with being afraid is that I am able to put other facets of my life as a priority. No significant other means I can focus on bettering myself physically, academically, and even spiritually and mentally. What do I want out of life? What kind of person do I want to be for the next person I give my heart to?

But at the end of the day, I am still afraid of the “L” word, something that would be nice to share with someone that isn’t a family or friend. I’ve found it difficult opening up, to practically anyone, after developing so many counter-measures to ensure that I am unable to experience any form of heartbreak ever again. It’s scary and nerve-wracking and sometimes a little short of frightening. But I am not afraid to admit that I am afraid of the “L” word-or more so, I am afraid of falling back in love. Why bother if I’m going to be hurt all over again, right? But even though I am afraid of the whole concept of love, I also believe that love is out there; it’s tangible and real, vibrant, and brings never-ending joy. I just have yet to find the right opportunity. So to everyone else who is afraid of this thing called love, let’s all hope and believe that we will find it; maybe not soon, but eventually. So keep hoping, keep dreaming, and keep on loving even if it’s the thing you’re afraid of the most.

The Simple Lie of “I am (not) okay”

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Throughout our life we are asked “How are you?” in numerous variations of the phrase. It comes out in everyday conversations with retail workers, family members, friends; the list goes on. However, more often than not, when asked this question, we default back to the simple and safe answer of “I am okay”, before turning the question onto them. This could be because we are constantly on the go and have little to no time to indulge into a full-fledged conversation. Or we feel that it is not the right time or place to go into detail about our life. Whatever the case may be, we end up saying “I am okay”and end up walking away from the conversation a few moments later. And quite frankly, it isn’t our fault that we were conditioned to give this automated response.

Although sometimes this could be the absolute truth, that life is merely okay and there is no other word in our vocabulary to describe it. But then, there are those times when everything seems to be falling down around us, and we refuse to acknowledge or confess that life is giving us a bag full of lemons and we have no idea what to do with them. So we end up saying everything is fine or okay, when it is actually quite the opposite.

During hard times, this phrase departs from its original meaning and becomes a temporary mask. It transforms into a hiding place that barely anyone can find and oddly enough, it’s comfortable there. This phrase becomes a safe haven for the individual who is unable to comfortably express their situation to others.

For some, they feel a heavy sense of burden approaching even their closest friends and admitting that they would like an ear to listen to them or a shoulder to cry on. Others may bottle up their emotions inside and continuously work hard to create an unbreakable wall that has the ability to keep everyone, and everything, out. Because of these reasons (and obviously many more), we settle on the simple, yet painful lie of “I am (not) okay”.

Now, when was the last time that you actually thought about your response after being asked “How are you doing?” How honest are you with yourself when asked the question “Are you okay?” Living in such an emotionless world can prevent us from being honest with others, and more importantly being honest with ourselves.

We don’t want to come off as emotionally unstable, but we also know that we’re not robots. Sometimes it really is better to admit to people, and to ourseleves, that maybe things aren’t so great, yet you’re making strides towards being better. It’s okay to not be okay.