“Who dares wins.”
– British Special Air Service motto

I have learned to apply this motto in my own life. Three simple words whose implication is clear: one must be the aggressor in order to achieve their goals. It helps in war, but it also helps with daily life, from cold sales calls to dating to simply making friends. As simple as it may be, it took a small and seemingly insignificant event to solidify the concept in my mind.

It started on Craigslist. I started up an engaging conversation with a very sweet girl named Alexa. She had an infectiously cheery attitude, an innocence in her outlook in life. Yet she was not ignorant or unrealistic. We both shared some very important values; namely our views on romance and our choice of leisurely activities. We even went to the same school. She and I were getting along quite well. In time, we became increasingly comfortable with each other, and our interaction was soon dotted with flirtatious remarks and light hearted affections. She told me that if I were ever her boyfriend that she would never let me go. We had the magic of curiosity and the possibility of romance that laid ahead of us. We had established a fairly consistent routine of communication. Then, out of the blue, she stopped responding to me. Naturally, I was a little disappointed. I thought things were going well. This behavior was inconsistent. I chalked it up to some technical difficulties or some rather busywork that she was involved with. Alas, it was not to be, as is the case with most things in my life. About four days later, she got back in touch with me. Apparently she had met someone on the streets. She said that it was most unusual for her and that she was sorry for not getting back to me sooner. Alexa was now seeing someone. Being a one man woman, she could not date more than one person at a time. I agreed with her and wished her luck. I then proceeded to sit in my chair for several minutes, sulking at my misfortune.

It was at that moment that the SAS motto struck me. I realized that life had passed me by while I was sitting around entertaining the idea of a romance. The opportunity was in front of me: all I had to do was reach out and take it. Throughout those weeks that I was talking with Alexa, I had established good rapport. There was mutual attraction and she gave me many hints and opportunities to ask her out. Instead, I sat around enjoying the warm feelings we had for each other through a computer screen. I should have realized that she would not wait around for me. It did not occur to me that at any time, another man could swoop in and sweep her off her feet, taking her away from me.

They hem and haw and know not what they want. They are not honest with me, because they are not even honest with themselves.

It took this mistake to teach me that valuable lesson. I instilled into my mind the philosophy that I would seize all opportunities the instant they were presented to me. I would become aggressive and ruthless. At the first sign of weakness, I would attack. I decided that I would learn to recognize compliance when it appeared. I would no longer miss out on chances that popped up in my life: though life is the lengthiest segment of time that a human being may know, it is still too short.

To this day, I have taken many chances on people, both platonically and romantically. And to this day, I have met by far the most inconsistent people ever. Most everyone I take a chance on is a flaker. They hem and haw and know not what they want. They are not honest with me, because they are not even honest with themselves. I have always been one to be steadfast: I am confident of what I want, how I am going to get it, and what the outcome will be. When I give my word, it is an unbreakable understanding of bondage. Integrity is of utmost importance to me. I am very careful with just what it is that I promise. My commitment is rare, but once I give it, it is as reliable as the rising of the sun. Needless to say, it is hard to find someone of comparable dedication. I would feel safe saying that eight out of ten people that I meet are unreliable, flaky, mentally unstable, emotionally entangled, and/or unsure of themselves.

Why is it so hard to know and be ourselves? There is only truth and honesty within: all we have to do is look. One only has to search oneself to know what they truly want. And if one does not know, then one should not set expectations. One excellent example lies in romance. So many people believe they know what they want in their partner. They will even write you a list of qualities in their perfect man. But when it comes down to it, they rarely fall in love with the man that they envisioned. Throughout their search they will impose these expectations, but it can only yield false results. A potential suitor will give pursuit because he believes that he is right for her: after all, he possesses all the qualities she wishes for in her man. However, he is doomed to a fruitless relationship because she does not really want what she says. Who of us can really say with certainty who we will fall in love with? I say do away with the ideals and experience each romance in its own nature. Who knows what you will find?

I helped him, and by extension his family, in countless ways. Hell, I was becoming a fixture in his family.

My friends have dropped away over the years. Many revealed themselves to be rather shallow and lacking in moral values. Finding a decent human being with love in his heart and compassion for his fellow man is hard. Our society has turned into one of selfishness, a scramble for personal gain. I give ever so selflessly, never asking for anything more than respect and gratitude. I do not do favors to force others into debt. I do not seek to do things for others for personal gain: I am not a politician. I do them out of the kindness and love in my heart. Yet, when it comes time for them to return a small favor, there is hesitation and unwillingness. I had a friendship that lasted close to a decade or more, depending on when you start counting. During the course of this friendship, I gave of myself freely with no restraint. I helped move furniture, I paid for meals, I fixed the computer, I taught him everything he knew about computers. I helped him, and by extension his family, in countless ways. Hell, I was becoming a fixture in his family. There were notions of a deep brotherhood. We would take a bullet for each other, avenge each others deaths. At least that was the idea. In the end, our friendship was lost over something as petty as a baseball cap. What disappointed me in the loss was not only the physical and monetary investment, but the emotional and psychological energy as well. In one incident, a decade of shared experiences and emotional hardships vanished into thin air, leaving indifference in its place.

I have emerged from these slights against me with a sense of bitterness. I do not particularly regret my experiences for they make me who I am. I do not restrict myself or give less of myself because of these disappointment for it is in my generous nature. But it is becoming hard to stay true to myself. I am young, and I can only imagine that life will continue to slowly hammer away at the goodness in me.

I learned to dare, but I am always disappointed that I rarely win as the motto suggests. Do I continue to put myself on the line? I am growing weary, slowly tiring…do I succumb to the battered steps towards the path of bitterness?