While on vacation, I read a book called The Fault in Our Stars. The book is about teenagers with cancer and it ponders many questions of human existence. Of all these existential struggles, the main character, Hazel Grace, has plenty of intelligent thoughts. As I finished, I was crying pretty hard, which is embarrassing as I was on an airplane with someone’s grandmother sitting next to me. Twenty minutes after I put the book down, I started to cry again. I couldn’t stop thinking of the book and all of Hazel’s contemplative thoughts. I decided that I couldn’t sleep on that red-eye flight before I sat down an wrote out one thought that stuck with me in a quite profound way. I’ll try to explain it now (although not as eloquently as Hazel Grace would and it’s not even close to an original idea, just got me thinking).
In one interaction, her dad tells her that the Universe wants to be seen. Later, Hazel Grace figures that it’s not so much the Universe that wants to be seen but each individual. This could lead to many discussions on why humans are so selfish but instead, I romanticized the notion. The book is, after all, about love. (It helps that I also watched Titanic while on my trip in Hawaii too. Later, my bestie Anna pointed out that the main quotable line in Avatar, James Cameron’s other epic film, is “I see you.” Jack Dawson offers the exact same phrase to Rose shortly after they met.)
It struck me that falling in love feels so euphoric because you feel as if someone finally sees you. Someone knows you and understands you and still loves you. They see the good and the bad, the ugly and the pretty. When someone finally gets you, it makes the world seem less lonely. Arguing that love just makes us feel less alone barely scratches the surface of what it really means to have someone really see you.
And, on the opposite side of things, that is probably why break ups hurt so much. When you open yourself up to someone in such a way that they see you, it hurts even more that they’d choose to walk away. It’s a rejection of your truest, real self.
I’ve always believed in loving to the fullest. It never occurred to me that I was keeping to myself. It made me wonder whether it is possible to truly let others see you even if you aren’t falling in love. A large part of me thinks it’s very possible and real. Maybe not in the same way but we open ourselves up to friends and family and I know I feel that unconditional love. That’s why it still hurts a lot when a friend you felt saw the real you walks away.
The true joy in life for me will always be being welcomed into someone else’s life. The decision to let someone in is difficult but when I feel I’ve shown behind the curtain, all I can feel is joy; Joy that I get to share and explore these life’s many complications and triumphs with a person I love. We can’t let fears of rejection keep us from showing love ones our bright selves.