By Inyoung Choi
If you think this story is going to be about you, don’t worry! You’re probably not the only one.
I tend to give a lot of people the impression that I’m in love with them. Perhaps I am.
I take the “innocent until proven guilty” approach: I choose to love and trust someone before I get to know them.
And even as I get to know them better, sure, I grow to dislike some of their actions and disagree with some of their beliefs, as we’re all different and flawed in our own ways (and this is beautifully human!). The degree of “love” could dwindle into a lukewarm temperature, but at most I’ll be apathetic. Disliking someone takes a lot of negative energy, and frankly, my current schedule doesn’t give me bandwidth to take on that extra load of work.
On the other hand, as I start at a default to love, it doesn’t take much to spark incredibly warm feelings for someone. This, too, still takes energy, and frankly, my current schedule probably is best without it, but I still let myself do it anyways as it also gives me a lot of positive energy in return. Plus, it’s kind of fun.
As I start off with a default to love, I show interest to anyone and everyone during my initial encounter. I’m usually the first one to reach out, the first one to say “Hi,” the first one to ask someone out on a date and the first one to tell someone how much I love them.
I’m frequently interested, open and expressive toward many to an extent that is quite embarrassing. Trust me, I know too precisely well when I embarrass myself. As you can see, I’m able to write one piece per week about myself – extreme self-awareness is my greatest asset and liability.
I am aware that I can come off as too (much / interested / vocal / serious / confident / upfront) for many. And I am aware that stereotypically, people don’t expect this from an Asian woman. I am aware that as we grow up, most of us err on the side of caution, starting at a default of apathy and building up a level of trust and love as they get to know others better. My friends and family who frequently tell me that I trust or like people too easily. I could be naive or hopeful. I’m probably both, but I’ll take the latter.
So yes, I have a number of embarrassing love stories that I could share. They’re all in the lines of “I tried too hard,” “I took it too seriously” and “I cared too much.” But precisely, these experiences are, if anything, embarrassing. In other words, even in the worst case scenario, I can simply laugh about all the awkwardness or just hide under my blanket. And realistically speaking? No one cares about me as much as I do for myself, so it’s definitely not as big of a deal as I make it.
Laughter or the need to kick my sheets before I go to bed at night doesn’t seem like an unfair cost for the opportunity to establish relationships that will help me grow, make me laugh and warm my heart. I’m willing to take that first leap: Yes, maybe I notice, seek attention and show interest in people first. But if someone is willing to notice me even if I’m not that noticeable, attention-grabbing and interesting at first – they must truly appreciate me for who I am. This is the most I could ever ask for in any human relationship.
I used to think that emotional connection was first-come, first-serve. In other words, the one who cares first is the one who cares the most. This was my arrogant mistake. Care, in any valuable relationship, is not a game of “who cares more” and even this game is not defined by who gets the first or last word. I’m starting to realize that care in a human relationship is not first-come, first-serve but perhaps last but not least.
FMOTQ is coming up. We should be unafraid to express care before we know it is reciprocated – to embarrass ourselves a bit – as the worst case scenario is that we can all laugh over it. And it’s so fun to laugh!
Shame is different from embarrassment. Shame is feeling pain and guilt from hurting someone. Shameful acts affect others – it is not solely ourselves who face the painful consequences. Expressing care for others can be embarrassing, but it should never be shameful. As the event campaigns, consent is the norm: Let us be respectful and cautious to not hurt anyone’s physical, mental or emotional self.
Here’s to many more embarrassing (and shameless) love stories!
Like last week, sharing some of our peers’ writing for this week that I found interesting (regardless of whether I agree with their viewpoints):
- Julianna Yonis’s “The Me(dia) Generation: The Takeover of Digital Influencers” (MINT Magazine)
- Nina Knight’s “Hookup culture and demisexuality” (The Stanford Daily)
- Mikaela Brewer’s “The purple crayon paradox” (The Stanford Daily)
- Amir Abou-Jaoude’s Yung Slee crafts songs from Stanford (The Stanford Daily)
Contact Inyoung Choi at ichoi ‘at’ stanford.edu.