There’s a quote in the movie, A Lot Like Love, where the character Emily says “If you’re not willing to sound stupid, you don’t deserve to be in love.” Pretty controversial statement right there, but I’d argue that she’s at least partially right, in that I think she’s saying if you’re not willing to take the risk of sounding stupid for something like love, then why do you think you deserve the reward of being in love?
Risk and reward.
I think for most of us these two factors play out in our lives every day, not just with our love lives. But for some reason, in things like our careers, we’re more willing to take those risks. I know I’ve definitely taken risks in my career that have sometimes played out well and sometimes not, but it hasn’t stopped me from continuing to take (calculated) risks with it. With my love life, however? Ehhhh, not always. And if you’ve ever found yourself uttering something like, “I’m not doing all that” or “I’m just not trying to be somebody’s fool,” I’d argue you are more like me than you realize.
But before we talk about the idea of being the fool or sounding stupid, I think we first have to look at our definitions of love. And there are plenty. The Bible says love is patient, kind, does not envy or boast. It is not proud, does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking or easily angered, and does not keep record of wrong doings. It does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. And it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.
Webster says it is a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person. Oxford says it is a feeling of deep affection. They also acknowledge that it can be a verb as well as a noun. And I’ve always been told by older family members that love requires action, patience, and a willingness to be vulnerable with someone.
So there are all these various definitions that we can look to when we think of love, and yet – I think it pretty much boils down to something that is pure and good when used for the right reasons. And so if something is pure and good, and often what most of us want (at least eventually), then why are we so afraid to do whatever it takes to get it?
Now I’ve probably talked about fear enough on this blog to last a lifetime, but it’s the only reason I can think that we put false barriers up like not wanting to play the fool. Of course no one wants to be a fool! You don’t want to spend time giving your heart to someone only to learn they don’t want it, are not ready for it, and/or have no desire to return the action. You’d be crazy to seek that out. But that doesn’t mean love doesn’t require that you take that risk to achieve it.
We don’t want to hear things like that about love though — the parts about sacrificing and giving up of one’s self. So what do we do instead? We play it cool when we want to do anything but that for fear that we’ll come off thirsty. We say things like “I could go for dinner tomorrow,” when we really want to shout out “I would love to see you tomorrow. I want to see you every tomorrow.” We let the risk of being the fool for love stop us from achieving it.
But isn’t the reward so much greater than the risk? I mean, when you really think about it?
I once had a good friend sit me down several years ago and ask me why I hadn’t truly come clean with this guy I really liked. We’d just met so he didn’t have a stake in anything, but he was really curious as to why I didn’t stand up and tell this dude what I wanted from him. You know what my response was? “Well he knew how I felt; how could he not know? And if he knew and didn’t make that move, then he didn’t really want me anyway.”
To which he responded, “Oh, so you were afraid that his answer was going to be no.”
I looked at him crazy at the time, but he was right. And then he blew my mind and asked me that evening what I’m now asking you – what if the answer is yes?
Knowing all the different definitions of love and knowing what our own personal definitions of love are, how can we say we want something so pure and good and then say we’re not willing to risk hearing that no for the chance to get the yes? And if we’re not willing to risk the no/the chance that we will be the fool, then at the very least Emily from A Lot Like Love would say we don’t deserve to have it.
What do you all think? Have there been times when you gave up on something because you were afraid you were looking like a fool? And do you even agree with the premise in the first place?