One of my favorite scenes in Love Actually is when Mark (Andrew Lincoln) brings cue cards over to Juliet (Keira Knightly’s) character’s house and confesses how he feels about her on her doorstep.
Is it wrong? Most would probably say so. She’s married to his best friend.
But it’s brutally honest. And as I was watching the romantic comedy the other night, I couldn’t help but think… why aren’t we all showing up with cue cards at each other’s doorsteps more often? Why do we hold so much of how we feel in?
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I talk to people constantly about their relationships.
My friend Mike, who drove me on my book tour and who I routinely grilled about guys’ perspectives on love, turned to me one morning when we were driving to the Boston airport bright and early and said, “Riley, it’s not even seven a.m. yet. Can we resume this line of chit-chit once we’ve maybe had a bagel? Or even better, a drink…in the air?”
Speaking of drinks…I love how vulnerable people are after they’ve had one or two. Maybe not always with the person they actually have feelings for, but with strangers (like myself—who are interested in this line of chit chat at seven a.m. and at every other moment). I can’t tell you the number of times people at bars have confessed to me that they’ve secretly had feelings for one particular person and wanted to say something to him or her but never did.
I’m just as guilty as the next person of keeping certain feelings in. I guess because sharing them might make things awkward. I always wonder how Mark and Juliet’s relationship in Love Actually progressed after the film ended. I imagine it wasn’t ever comfortable hanging out again. Or maybe they ran off together.
And there’s always the fear of rejection that most of us can’t stand. And the fear of disappointment. We avoid these feelings so intensely. But what happens because of this?
In this Ted Talk by researcher Brene Brown, she says vulnerability is the key to happiness. The happiest people, according to research, are those who are willing to say “I love you,” first. Who are willing to “do something where there are not guarantees.” Which means they are willing to loosen control. “This is the “birthplace of joy and creativity,” Brene explains.
And when we “selectively numb vulnerability,” meaning we keep our feelings in in certain areas of our lives, we keep ourselves from experiencing positive emotions too, in all areas of our lives.
I, for one, have tried to selectively numb this year more than ever before. When I published Waiting at Hayden’s, I knew the more people the book reached, the more opportunites there would be for me to receive criticism. I wanted to feel the good reviews, but because I wasn’t willing to feel the bad, I really couldn’t feel the good either.
Currently I’m working on being open to feeling both. Because that’s what it means to be alive.
What would your cue cards say if you were to make some right now? Whose door would you show up at?
This holiday season, I hope you give yourself the gift of being vulnerable.
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