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Writer's Block: Solo traveler
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Do you find it very hard to open up to people? Why or why not? What are the benefits and disadvantages of being emotionally guarded?

Do I find it hard to open up to people? That depends. Most of the time I choose not to. In my travels I've found that the majority of random people you meet are just fulla shit and not worth talking to. By that, I mean they'll sit there and preach their beliefs to you, or tell you what they think you should do with your life, how to go about doing things and whatnot. It gets tiring hearing the same things over and over from different people.

On the other hand, you'll occasionally come across a truly fascinating person, one you can really connect with. For some, finding that person in a cafe or on a train (randomly) seems like little more than pure dumb luck. Extroverts who spend a lot of energy talking to many people would have to sift through, perhaps thousands, before finding that one person they stay friends with for years. And in the meantime their minds are bombarded with all kinds of useless crap, burning out their social receptors.
The silent introvert who sits far back in the corner may be guarded, but he is not withdrawn. He is observing everything and everyone, picking out cues. He knows what to look for, and only needs to talk to maybe 2 or 3 people before deciding on who in the room would make a good friend.

Guarding your heart is absolutely necessary for survival and sanity; it is the degree to which you should guard it that varies from person to person. An emotionally healthy and strong person need not worry too much about it - chances are you're mature enough to know which people to be guarded against and which it is safe to open up to. Having been raised in an abusive household, I've developed a sixth sense for people with ill intentions. I can almost smell it. Conversations with such people don't usually last long - I'll start to make snide retorts to get them to leave.
I can also tell almost instantly when someone is being honest, and I usually return the favor.

There are advantages to being guarded all the time, such as being less likely to get hurt. But if you overdo it, the loss of potential friendships will far outweigh any pain you might have dodged. Likewise, it is downright stupid to never be guarded. The naive are like sitting ducks, and there is always a hungry wolf searching for easy prey. The best thing to do is learn how to tell for yourself when you should be guarded, and when to open up. And that, my friends, is the essence of street-smarts.

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