It’s highly unlikely any of us have been spared that moment of rejection: of loneliness and deep-seated disappointment when someone we trusted lets us down. Life has certain inevitabilities, and sadly, I think this is one of them. We are all too human to repay or be repaid entirely for our own trust or another’s trust in us. However, I think there is something to be said for our role in who lets us down and how they do so.

A lot of life is spent looking for others who will understand us, or at least take the time to try. In my opinion, this is one of our most deeply felt human needs: the need to be understood. We all want someone to listen to our hopes and fears and feelings, to see us truly as we are.

At the same time, we often don’t want to talk. I know there have been many occasions when my response to the generic “how are you?” query is “fine,” when I’ve been anything but. I want to be seen, and yet I shrink away from the light if it might expose my weaknesses. A paradox of sorts. Maybe it’s because I’m not comfortable with generic. Maybe none of us are comfortable with generic, with shallow, surface level interactions, even though we often pursue and produce them.

I don’t want meaningless banter, but it seems to be so hard to escape it. And when conversation comes along that probes deeper, I seize it. I think we are all waiting for the moment when someone sees us enough that we can see ourselves without shying away from the sight. My worry is that we wait so long for these moments that we are deceived by their presence. My worry is that we grant our confidences too quickly, too easily. That we let others in simply because they want to come and whether or not they are worthy of our trust.

I agree of course that we should allow our true selves to shine through to every person we meet. However, I think confidence- and trust- is something that should be earned. Relationships of any kind require work on both sides and time from both members. If we give our confidence to just anyone, it is almost cheapened in a way. It leaves us open and ready to be let down, disappointed, lonely and rejected.

In my opinion, hearts should be a little guarded. In the end, what matters is if we believe what we have to offer is special and worth having. (Side note: it is). If we believe in the worth of our true self, then the nature of bestowing our confidence changes. Instead of viewing anyone who will listen to or care about us as a benefactor, we can see that by giving someone our trust, we are giving them a gift. A gift that they should earn and a gift that we should earn to receive from them as well.

Even people who have “earned” this gift will let us down, and we will let others down who are close to us as well. But I think it’s important that we guard our hearts enough to preserve the dignity of what makes each of us so special. Although we all feel misunderstood and unloved at times, I don’t think true friendship, love or happiness come out of desperation, selfishness or disrespect. And while we wait for understanding, I believe there is One who understands us perfectly: the only one who ever will. Perfectly, entirely, completely. Enough to make up for every let-down, disappointment, loneliness and rejection.

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