There's a quote that appears in the most recent film adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina."
If you're not familiar with the classic novel, I suggest reading it before you skip straight to the DVD. The star-studded cast (Keira Knightley, Jude Law) definitely doesn't offset the two-hour weirdness, but I digress.
The quote is as follows:
"I'd rather end up wishing I hadn't than wishing I had."
At its core, the quote is simple. It's better to take a chance and deal with the multitude of possible outcomes than to wonder what if for the rest of your days. If you end up with some regrets, so be it. At least you tried.
So many of us refuse to take chances. We hide our feelings behind emojis and texts, willing other people to read between imaginary lines. We use our smartphones as shields; barriers between us and the real world.
To say what you feel is to put your emotions in someone else's hands -- something we've been taught to avoid at all costs. We, instead, choose to involve both ourselves and others in a torturous guessing game -- the root of all evil, at the center of most relationship problems.
Is he into you? Did she dig hanging out with you or is she just being polite? It's a game with rules that no one can agree upon. Since we have such a difficult time saying what we mean, it becomes hard for people to read us and vice versa.
Since when are we so unfamiliar with honesty? The concept has become so foreign to us that we're actually taken back when someone not only admits his or her feelings, but loudly expresses them, as well.
Confusion has become a common reaction when someone says exactly what's on his or her mind. Is it even honesty or is it just a part of the aforementioned "game"? Our hesitancy to trust others might be one of the reasons we insist on not saying what we really mean.
After being told, in not so many words, that I was scared to be honest, I realized it was true. In an effort to protect and prevent myself from being vulnerable, I had become closed off, tiptoeing around what I really wanted to say and hoping that eventually, my intentions would become obvious.
While this can probably be attributed to a variety of personal experiences, it seems that this phenomenon is a generational one. I can't be the only 20-something who, alarmed by thoughts of fear and rejection, has let opportunities slip away.
We're taught to relentlessly go after what we want in life. We're in constant competition, whether it's in an academic, professional or romantic setting.
Our individuality is often our biggest asset, yet so many people are paralyzed with fear at the thought of embracing who they actually are.
We show the world censored versions of ourselves; the versions we believe will be most readily accepted. We don't want people to think we're weird or overly emotional. We want to seem cool and aloof at all times.
Is this really human nature, though? We can't turn our emotions on and off at the flip of a switch. We experience emotions constantly, but we are determined to silence and mask them. We are an unaffected generation -- on the surface, at least.
We spend too much time worrying about consequences. It's time to shed the masks and embrace honesty.
What's the worst that can happen? A few moments of embarrassment? The sting of rejection that will eventually fade and be replaced by pride at having made an effort?
It seems like a small price to pay if there's even a slight chance of getting what you want as a result of voicing your honesty. There's nothing more beautiful than seeing someone raw, unfiltered and honest.
It's the people who don't care about what others think that are truly comfortable in their own skin. If your life were to flash before your eyes, you would want to see a life filled with risks and chances. It's the risks that reap rewards.
Let's stop censoring ourselves. Let's stop trying to mold ourselves into robotic entities that never get upset or excited or fall in love or make fools of themselves.
The right people will come into our lives and love us despite our quirks, not be turned off by them. Spare yourself the agony of laying in bed at 3 am, wishing you would have said what was on your mind. Focus on being the truest version of yourself and relishing in the honesty of every moment.
The worst thing in the world is to end up wishing you had.
Photo via We Heart It