I see pictures on Instagram every day promoting the whole “You are a strong beautiful 21st century woman and you should take no shit and slit the throat of anyone who tries to give you shit.” Mostly accompanied by photos of women with red lipstick and sharp haircuts, usually posing with their best resting bitch face. This ruthless approach to life is being sold with as much fervour as if it were an ice business in the Antarctic (Frozen reference, you’re welcome).
You know what? Sometimes, I buy it. I want to buy it – it sounds hardcore, badass and offers more protection for my fragile little heart than the best insurance policy in the world. But life isn’t always that simple. Let’s be honest; if I were to slit the throat of anyone who tried to give me the faintest whiff of shit, let’s just say that the planet’s overpopulation problem would be a thing of the past by now.
You know what’s REALLY difficult? Trusting someone.
Personally, this is something I’ve always found challenging; how to trust. I also don’t think it’s talked about nearly enough amidst all the advice out there on how to look out for signs that someone can’t be trusted. I get it, it’s difficult to be vulnerable and willingly show someone the core of who you are with the risk of being betrayed at any point.
But that’s exactly what trust is – a gift.
I once read (somewhere) that someone should be trusted until proven untrustworthy. This hit home and it’s been at the back of my mind ever since. My mind has a way of keeping these little nuggets for those sleepless nights where I need to self-entertain (not ALL my midnight snack musings are based around food, you know). In essence, I guess you could say I had a mini eureka moment.
Because I’ve been applying the opposite approach to life this whole time.
When I was younger, I loved my rose-tinted lenses and tended to give my trust away like chocolate at Christmas. Admittedly, as the years went on this naivety acknowledged that it was time to take a back seat, and my heart became more closely-guarded than the crown jewels in the Tower of London. I grabbed a paint roller and gave life a wash of that shade of paint called “Don’t trust anyone until they have proven themselves trustworthy.”
You see, the problem with that approach soon emerged. How far was I willing to go? Every time someone did prove themselves trustworthy, I would apply another layer of that paint, my scepticism demanding yet another affirmation of their character. I’m not quite sure how many layers of paint I deemed necessary before I finally determined that I could feel comfortable opening up to someone.
You see, true strength doesn’t lie in how many layers of paint you demand – in other words, how closely you guard your feelings. Strength is all about accepting that there is a very real risk you may be let down, but deciding that someone is worth a chance because you see good qualities in them. Not just seeing these good qualities, but having faith that your trust will improve your relationship on multiple levels and bring out the best in the BOTH of you.
Even if it is the more difficult option.
I sometimes wonder how my life today would be different, had I realised this sooner. Yes, I’ve learned to protect myself in the most brutal way possible but there is also a chance – just maybe – that I wouldn’t be the cynical, anxiety-ridden mess that I am today. I’ve learned to put the paint roller down from time to time, but I’d be lying if I told you it hasn’t been used on every new person I’ve met. And drowned them in my seemingly bottomless supply of paint.
Here’s the thing, folks. Lack of trust hinders your relationships. However, sometimes it is necessary and always follow your gut instinct when you see red flags popping up all over the place. But without taking that first step to open yourself up to someone, there is no room for growth. Not for yourself, not for your relationship with the other person. You may end up smothering something wonderful before it has had a chance to blossom. If it feels right and all the evidence you see is giving you the green light, give the person a chance. Take that leap of faith. Give them the most valuable gift of all – your trust.
Because there is a chance – just a chance – that your gift might be repaid a thousand times over.
Disclaimer: All images used in this post have been obtained from Pixabay under a Creative Commons License and edited on Canva by J, exclusively for thenellybean.com.