If there was ever a time to talk about the realities of life, it's now. We live in an age where real-life communication is being phased out by technology, and it’s so easy for messages to get distorted.
The subtle nuances easily discerned by a face-to-face conversation can go undetected by a tweet, Instagram, WhatsApp or Facebook message.
We are so often unable to separate the sheep from the goat, and sometimes it's because we are afraid to face the truth.
Growing up, I was shielded from the harsh realities of life. And as an adult, I am still getting a rude awakening.
I am wary of the fact that life is not as it used to be, when people said what they meant and meant what they said.
It’s hard trying to figure out who you can trust and what you can take at face value.
But, here are some things life has taught me that I hope you can find useful in your own lives.
1. Once bitten, twice shy
We often hear people say this, but its worth should not be overlooked. The great Maya Angelou once said:
“When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.”
This is quite true, as I used to be all for second and even third chances, but sometimes you have to know when to draw the line.
I’ve learned the hard way that no matter how convincing people are, or how nicely things seem to be flowing, you can never tell what’s really going on in another person’s head.
So many variables can be working in the background, unknown to you.
So, it’s wise to observe the signs, the little things spoken and unspoken. These are the things that gnaw away at the back of your mind and scream, “This does not feel right.”
These are the things that don’t add up or seem too good to be true.
It’s important to never ignore your first instincts, but at the same time, don’t be paranoid. Study this person over a period of time, and then make your decision.
Even if it’s a casual friendship, business relationship, family member or romantic partner, you need to be able to discern the level of engagement you wish to maintain with this person for the sake of your own health, happiness and peace of mind.
2. Guard your tongue
In the past, I’ve often made the mistake of divulging too much information too soon to new people entering my life.
Because of how my personality has morphed over the years, I often seemingly hit it off with people on first meeting and fall into this trap.
Too many questions answered or sometimes a Freudian slip here or there allows for misinterpretation, third-party embellishments and misplaced trust in people who do not have your best interests at heart.
This can cause an unfair advantage or give rise to unnecessary toxicity that could have been avoided if you kept your mouth shut.
Tread carefully before entering the deep end, learn how to discern people and know who your true-blue friends are.
3. Go easy on yourself
We’ve all been burned by people who we considered bonafide in our heart of hearts. So, when they disappoint or "act a fool," we are taken aback, and it knocks us off our keisters.
We get slightly (or very) jaded, and we question ourselves, our judgement and our fate in life.
We lose our faith in humanity for a minute or two, and we don’t want to trust anyone again. Sometimes, we even lock ourselves off from the rest of the world.
Maybe this is a bit extreme, but it happens to the best of us. And how long this feeling lasts is up to us.
Time is the solution to most of our problems. It’s all a risk you take on living, loving and learning to trust.
We can’t stay trapped in a time warp, although the past may seem comforting and familiar. We can’t blame ourselves or let others pay for our past. They don’t deserve it.
If we stay in that capsule of time, it will inhibit our growth and block off our connection to new people and experiences. It will rob us of our joy and prevent us from living completely.
I’m sure you don’t want to live your life like that, and neither do I. Don't be afraid to take a chance.