When I was in about 5th grade, I got my first crush.
I was just starting to think about boys in that way, and he was the cutest, smartest boy in my grade. My heart just went thump every time he was nearby, and things were just brighter and awesome when he was around. At least for the first little while
Now, I was a really awkward kid in middle school. I didn’t have that many friends, I was really dweeb-y, and I was the target of pretty much every bully in the school. As a result, I had really low self esteem (as you can imagine!), and I had convinced myself that I could just never be good enough for this awesome, amazing, intelligent boy, and that I was just never going to try. For a normal, intelligent, socially functional human being, that would be the end of it. But this is middle school; no one is normal, intelligent or socially functional in middle school, least of all me.
I obsessed over this boy. He was all I would pay attention to when he was in the room. I would do anything I could to be near him, but I would refuse to directly interact with him. In my head, I would create fantasies where he would notice me and fall helplessly for me (while at the same time saying that I was never good enough, I could never be good enough). I fancied myself in love. I was in agony when he asked out my best friend at the time instead, right in front of me. I spent so many nights lying awake, crying. I was a tortured soul, in the midst of a star-crossed, dark romance.
Essentially, I became a creep.
This lasted until the end of the eighth grade, when I moved to a different town to a different high school. You can’t even imagine my relief to get away from that place. I knew even then that getting out of the school where I was the socially inept, dweeby target was absolutely essential to my mental health. I wasn’t even upset to be leaving the object of my obsession. By then, even I had tired of my dark, tragic romance. I didn’t know how to stop crushing on someone, though, so leaving was my only hope.
In high school, I created a second crush.
Yes, that’s right, created. One day I decided that I wanted a new crush, and so I looked and choose a guy to crush on. He was cute, funny, intelligent and, in my mind, completely out of my league; perfect. Thus, by my own design, through my own actions, history repeated itself.
This crush was a lot like my last one. It had nothing to do with who that person was, and everything with me creating a dark, creepy, obsessive fantasy. I didn’t speak to him, I didn’t interact with him that much, and I didn’t know him, but I was in love with him. A couple of weeks ago I found an old journal I had written in at that time, and it was disturbing. Like really, I’m not even going to talk about how creepy and obsessive I was around this guy. I just kind of want to pretend I just popped into existence in junior year of high school and that other wierd girl is just someone completely different or, better yet, never existed.
I’m honestly not sure why I actively seeked out a crush, when the last one played out the way it did. Maybe it was because I wanted love and a relationship, but didn’t know how to go about it, so I created a fake relationship. That thump of the heart that I’d feel around someone I was crushing on was kind of intoxicating. It was just this small surge of excitement and warm fuzzies and I just loved feeling that. I think crushes for me were also a form of self harm. I don’t know what came first, the crushing or the depression, because they were so intertwined, but there was this endless feedback loop where I would just twist the knife just to feel it hurt (metaphorically), because I hurt in a lot of other ways. I was the constant, annoying, obsessive emo wet blanket, and in retrospect it really is a wonder I had as many friends as I did in that time. I know I missed out on a lot of good times and good friendships because I was to busy thinking myself tragically misunderstood, instead of just this annoying, creepy, emo girl.
After my second crush graduated, I got a boyfriend, made some new friends, and just stopped. It was slightly more complicated a growth process then that, but not really. I just turned around and told myself Stop It, this is ridiculous. Then I began my first relationship, which was probably the right thing to do, but for probably for the wrong reasons. Wrong reasons or no, I slowly started to learn how actual human beings should act when it comes to romance, and swore I would never have a crush, ever again.
As of now, a month into the semester, I’ve had two crushes.
The first is a guy I’ve been seeing all the time at work in the dining hall. One of my friends described him as “intimidatingly attractive,” which he certainly is. Everyone who works at the dining hall who likes guys knows who he is and thinks he’s just the hottest ever, and one day, he walks in and I feel a teeny, tiny little thump. “Oh,” I think. “I have a crush.”
“I’m going to ask him out.”
Ask the person out sooner rather than later, before you get too caught up in a fantasy or invested in the outcome.
I didn’t want to be caught up in another fantasy. I’m long past the point in my life where torturing myself with a creepy made up romantic fantasy appeals in the least. So I decided I would ask him out. I knew I would fail, but that was okay. I was mostly doing it for the story, and just to prove I could, and that I had grown way past that silly, sad girl who couldn’t imagine someone would ever want her.
So I did. I told some of my coworkers, and they watched as I marched right up to him. As I approached him, my vision kind of tunneled and I felt this frission of nervousness and excitement and a small bit of panic. “This isn’t going to turn into anything, but that’s okay. I’m just doing this for the story, just to prove I can,” I said to myself to calm the panic, and the reveled in the nervousness and the excitement, like I do when I look down from heights.
The conversation went exactly like this:
Shora; -walks up to table- Hi! My name is Shora!
Cute boy: -smiles- Hi Shora, I’m Pierce.
Shora: Nice to meet you! -shakes hand-. So, I’ve seen you around a lot, and I think you’re really cute, and I was wondering if you wanted to go out sometime?
Pierce: -friendly smile- I actually have a girlfriend.
Shora: Aw, what a shame. Well, it was nice meeting you! -walks away-
It was really that easy, and I got <i>so much street cred</i>, and a really cool story to tell, and the feeling that I reached an important, tangible milestone in my growth as a person.
My current crush is in swing dance club.
I first saw him at a fair held at my college for clubs to advertise and try and get more members. He was standing by the swing dance table, looking cute, and I grabbed a flyer. I’d already been thinking about joining some sort of partner dance club, and I decided that the club with the really cute guy was as good as any.
Their table was located pretty close to the belly dance table, where I spent most of the fair. A table for some a capella group was right across the path from us, playing really loud music, so he and some other members of swing dance club started dancing right in front of us.
Watching him dance, I was immediately besotted. He dances so well you guys, you have no idea, and I loves me a boy who can dance. I decided right then that I wanted to learn to dance that well, and that I wanted him. I’m still not quite sure which I wanted more.
So I went to the first meeting and got immediately hooked. I love dancing, and swing is so much fun! Even more, I was able to dance and socialize and actually interact with someone who gives me that squishy, crushy feeling, instead of just standing to the side, obsessing.
If my first two crushes were all about self harm, this one has been healing. Since the end of my relationship with Sam, I had been really really depressed. I was in a funk, I was acting in kind of self destructive ways and I was just… sort of not okay. Once I met this guy, and once this crush started, I’ve been… happier. I’ve been taking more care for my appearance, I’ve been socializing more. I’ve had more energy, and I’ve been able to get things done. I’m getting to know this new, awesome person, and it makes me happy to spend time with him and these other new, awesome people. One day he invited me over to hang with him and I was over the moon, even though nothing happened beyond nerding out and chilling. I’ve just felt better since this crush started, instead of this weird masochistic enjoyment of feeling worse.
Among other things, this has been an opportunity for jealousy management, since he, obviously, dances with other girls, and I’ve since learned that he does, in fact, have a girlfriend. Jealousy can be kind of a problem for me, and there has been no time that jealousy has done anything but make me feel miserable, so having a low stakes way to confront and conquer jealousy in myself has been tremendously helpful. Being around him makes me feel kind of squishy inside, and not letting the time and attention he spends with/on other girls take away from that squishy feeling is awesome.
I’ve always thought that crushes were just stupid and silly and only cause pain and delusion. Discovering they could actually be good things, and healing and fuzzy even in a time of great emotional upheaval has been as shocking as it has been amazing. I’ve gone from having a crush that will never be anything more and that’s terrible, to having a crush that will never be anything more and that’s still pretty cool.
That’s just awesome.