The Bravery of a Fool

There are not many late-night, frantic, and ridiculous phone calls between women discussing the unpredictability of the typically predictable male that don’t involve questions concerning being a fool.

The adages are plentiful – only fools fall in love and everybody plays the fool without an exception to the rule. And the negativity behind this term is not just in a noun, but also a verb – fool me once, shame on you – but fool me twice, shame on me. While women may want to be beautiful and irreplaceable, a vixen, and maybe an officially official girlfriend – one phrase they never like to adopt is being the fool of a man.

Maybe I’m being too cliche in my perspective of this definition. But to me, a fool is someone who knows there is a chance for destruction with a man who has a reputation or has warned you of his troubles, and yet, against any recommendation or any red flag waving in the vast unknown – they willingly pursue and maybe even commit to such a character. Perhaps it is a lack of judgement or an inability to be prudent with those they date or open their legs for – either way, I think it’s a title we’ve all claimed at some point. Most of us, probably well knowing the role we were accepting before we took the stage.

But why would anyone want to be a fool for anyone? Wouldn’t we rather stay logical and collected, calm, and in control of the love we decide to share with only a someone who is willing to offer us the same? Isn’t being in a relationship only worth the wager if you know that while the stakes are high, there are two players playing on an even-playing field?

Call me crazy – but I agree to be in love, you must be a little foolish. It is not an easy task to openly offer up your heart, your emotions, and your hope to a person who may or may not handle such precious things with care. With a simple slip of the mouth, slip of the pants, or slip into a stranger’s bed – a man who you once trusted with your most intimate self could leave you waiting in the wings, covered in not just the dust of his speedy exit, but the residue of his countless lies. Sure,  all of these things are possible and no, they don’t always happen. But they could and they do. If such pain is plausible, we’d have to be irrational to rationalize love. Right?

Or is it that the thinnest line isn’t between faith and fortune. Or between flattery and fumbling.  Or loving and lusting. Or what we want and where we are. Or the beginning and the ending. Or  making love and making the dirty. Or exclusive and free.

But rather – the most blurred connection is between being a fool and being brave.

And if I follow the absurdity of fairytales or the blatant reality of my parent’s example of a relationship that can endure the test of time and health – being brave is the quality that made the dues payable. But to be courageous, one must always be a little asinine, or we wouldn’t realize what we were risking. And really, the largest investment we make in a relationship isn’t even in the person – however dreamy he may be – but the liability is in ourselves.

We must be brave enough to fall in love and absurd enough to trust someone other than ourselves with our most valuable assets. Because once they are out in the open, in front of the court to see and ridicule, there is not always a guarantee that a prince charming will ride our way. More often than not in times that are Millennial instead of Medieval – the knight’s armor is less than shining and more shunning. After all, the fool is not the princess or the lady in waiting or even a maiden of the most prestigious court. This character is rather the one who entertains, the one who hides their own face in an effort to bring joy to the lips of others. But the fool is no fool to her antics or her charm, to her words, or to the price she could pay for being honest or sarcastic. She knows the chance she takes, she knows the pieces that could shatter – but she does it anyways.

Because what we forget about being a fool is that to be one, you must realize your own value. And you have to know that if the crowd doesn’t take to what you present, you know there is safety and shelter in your own care. And in that power comes the ability to accept being a fool and knowing that though we get a wild card to play a prank on a friend on this day each year, there is never a holiday for deceiving ourselves.

Rather – it is something we do constantly, time after time, man after man. We convince ourselves he will be different. That it will be easy and just as we imagined. He will do those things we always wanted him to do. He will surprise us. He will love us unconditionally, if such a love is reasonable. We fool ourselves into falling in love again. And again. We accept the burden it carries when it doesn’t work out as anticipated and we bow to our audience, to the fates who tricked us again, and we go backstage to prepare for the next show.

For the next brave attempt at the foolish ways of love.

The History of Vulnerability

Collectively and statistically, the number one fear is public speaking. Regardless if it is a crowd of strangers or a group of those who know us our very best, putting ourselves on display gives us the heebie-jeeibes.

While I personally don’t have that anxiety – I do have one I would like to argue is even more difficult to overcome, and that is the fear of vulnerability.

Mr. Google defines “vulnerable” as “exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.” So while it isn’t exactly being on a stage giving a motivational speech or a wedding toast, allowing yourself to be vulnerable exposes something so precious we have to deeply inhale just to admit it: our hearts.

I thought incredibly long and hard before publishing yesterday’s post about Mr. Possibility. He has been a part of my life for a while now, but by keeping the intimacy we share away from this space – I was protecting myself. Somehow, if I didn’t type it out or read it with my own two eyes – I wasn’t actually allowing myself to fall for someone or be open to the hope of love.  But then, there it was, in black-and-white (and pink), before not only the World Wide Web, my collection of friends and family members, Mr. Possibility himself – but also, it was glaring back at me.

I read and re-read the post over and over again like the true obsessive person I tend to be (hence the blog). I questioned the words I used, wondered if I gave too much or too little, if I said the right things or if I was being clear enough – but still romantically vague. I lingered on my own sentences, analyzed my own feelings, and even though I was reassured from friends, fellow editors, the man the blog was about, and readers – something in me still felt uneasy. And it was a feeling that rooted so deeply, I could feel my stomach in knots and my heart on fire nearly the entire day.

I took me until close to 6 p.m., after I glanced over the post for about the 20th time to realize that it wasn’t actually the article that bothered me. It wasn’t what I was saying or how I said it. It wasn’t about the fact that I introduced Mr. Possibility to my journey. It wasn’t that something changed between him and I, in the tone and purpose of the path I’m taking, or in the goals I’ve made for myself.

The only part of my life that did a 360 was that instead of being Ms. Single (which I still am, for the record) – in my eyes, I became Ms. Vulnerable. Instead of keeping my feelings and my current romantic endeavor under wraps and non-serious, I revealed that it does have merit. It is something with meaning. I am feeling these feelings, I am accepting the risks that come with kisses, hugs, and making love – not to mention allowing someone to know me for who I am, no questions asked or excuses made.

And let’s be real honest- I’m terrified.

Anytime someone is a possibility or you feel those inevitable butterflies bounce around crazily in your stomach – you know that the time will come when you have to put all your cards on the table. That to be able to fall in love or to start a relationship or as I prefer currently, just keep experiencing this amazing companionship – I have to be vulnerable. I have to open up my heart – even if it is just a little bit. Because no true sincerity or passion or honest-to-goodness love (in any form) – is without liability.

When we walk down a road, holding a new person’s hand, admiring a new smile, and feeling new feelings – there is something faimiliar about it. Not because we’re on round two in a relationship, but because most of us, especially as 20-somethings, have been in love before. We’ve felt those things. We’ve crawled out on that limb, risking our bodies, our hearts, our sanity – to take a chance and give a piece of ourselves to another person.

And then, we’ve been burned. Disappointed. Hurt. Shattered, even. Completely led on. Misread signals, given mixed signals. Fallen in and out of love. Been amazed by the idea of someone, but not who they actually were. We’ve had someone pick another girl over us.

So, even though the man is new, the feelings are distinct – we know what’s ahead of us because we’ve been there already. And each time we become a little vulnerable, only to feel that sting of pain a tad bit deeper and harsher – we’re more hesitant to agree to try it again. If the Master of Time makes us go through another heartbreak, another disappointment, another man who doesn’t live up to what we pray he will – then we know the exact actions that’ll follow the demise. We know even the messiest parts of ourselves, the ones that not even our best girlfriends or family know about. We know the girl who is going through a heartbreak: she’s crying, sobbing, snotting, screaming into pillows, eating pasta that’s swimming in pure butter and salt, watching a ridiculous romantic comedy that’ll give her an excuse for the detriment she’s entertaining. We know that girl, we’ve been that girl.

So that’s why, when a tingle in our soul begs us to be a little vulnerable, we have to catch our breath. Because as we gaze up at this person, who maybe has shown no signs of departure or deceit – we are silently screaming in our heads: “Okay! I like you! I think this could be something, but please, my darling, don’t go break my heart. Don’t let it happen again.”

But maybe, it is okay if history does decide to repeat itself?

As I was sitting at my desk, realizing it was vulnerability that was getting to me, I thought about my past and the hurt I’ve endured. I saw images and flashbacks to those moments where I thought I would never feel the way I did about that guy. I thought I would never meet anyone more perfect for me. I thought that I was going to be in a constant state of lonely, of depressed, and pathetic – for any forseeable future. I thought I would never get up off that floor, wash my terribly sad puffy face, and move forward.

But guess what? I did.

So, if history does decide to turn the tides against me with Mr. Possibility – won’t I just endure again? Won’t I just pick up the pieces, wherever and no matter how hard they shatter, put on my super high heels, and push towards tomorrow? Like I always have?  By being vulnerable, I’ve allowed myself to feel with my whole heart. To look past the fear, look past the anxiety that comes with any new adventure – be it love or just moving to a new city. And wouldn’t I much rather feel everything – the bliss, the temptation, the passion, and even the frustration – then to not feel anything at all?

My history with vulnerability has given me a couple of scars and a ton of tears – but it has also allowed me to feel those feelings that we all crave to feel and to know that if those two arms wrapped around me, pull away – I know I can stand without their support.

So with that realization, with my vulnerability naked and open before the whole world (including me) to see – I made a decision to just go. To feel. To be. To hope. To dream. To just go with it – wherever it may end up. And though I’ll lock my door each and every night, sometimes, I may possibly give the key away to those who I think deserve an entrance. To those who may have the power to take the lock off completely.

But just so we’re clear I always have a spare.