A Gilded Cage

By Emily Algar, IATG ContributorMay 12, 2016


There’s a fine line in relationships, romantic or platonic, between changing ourselves to fit someone else’s idea of perfection, beauty, or acceptability, and changing and growing into a better and more self-aware version of ourselves simply because we want to.

For me, the only way I can describe the experience is like a detox, sweating out all that bad and scary stuff. The intimacy issues, the trust issues, the daddy issues, all that stuff I’ve buried so deep finally comes to the surface. I’m forced to look my issues in the eye and deal with them. It’s uncomfortable, frustrating, and painful. I find that there are parts of myself that I didn’t know existed or that I thought I had dealt with a long, long time ago. Each one, jostling for my attention and each one running the risk of turning self-exploration into a runaway horse.

Sometimes the most beneficial and worthwhile things we can ever do can hurt like hell and scare you to the point of throwing in the towel. And the most seemingly comfortable and secure circumstances can bring the most amount of pain and suffering.

There’s a piece of dialogue in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s that has always stood out to me, and now even more than ever. In the film, George Peppard’s character speaks to Audrey Hepburn’s, Holly Golightly, and says,

“You know what's wrong with you, Miss Whoever-you-are? You're chicken, you've got no guts. You're afraid to stick out your chin and say, 'Okay, life's a fact, people do fall in love, people do belong to each other, because that's the only chance anybody's got for real happiness.' You call yourself a free spirit, a 'wild thing,' and you're terrified somebody's gonna stick you in a cage. Well baby, you're already in that cage. You built it yourself. And it's not bounded in the west by Tulip, Texas, or in the east by Somali-land. It's wherever you go. Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself.”

Apart from being a very heavy and vulnerable piece of dialogue, it is also the moment at which Holly has to choose between repeating the same old learned habits that leave her waking up in the same unhappy place, to making the choice to face up to her issues and break out of this cage that she’s created herself. And though it’s terrifying and uncomfortable, it will lead ultimately to growth, freedom, and love.

I believe the same can be applied to my current circumstances. I am forcing myself to push my own boundaries, even though it absolutely terrifies me and forces me out of my comfort zone. There’s a push-pull happening within myself but I know that this relationship is worth all the growing pains. But parallel to this road of new discoveries, I am also checking in with myself and asking what I want and what I need. I'm trying not to suppress feelings that are new or the ones that are old but aren’t necessarily useful. Feeling it all is the key.

Let's Talk About It

Relationships can be hard work, but they sometimes push us to face up to our demons and become a better person. How do you balance your interests with your partner's?

About Emily:

FullSizeRender-9.jpgEmily Algar is an International Relations graduate who has just completed her Masters in International Security. She lives in a small town in Oxfordshire, UK where she writes, listens to music and walks her dogs. Since completing her studies, Emily is trying to figure out where she fits in the world and until she does, she is enjoying the ride.


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