From time to time I like to look back at the various choices I made when I was young. Today is one of those days. What brought this on was a Taylor Swift song about being 15. I'm not entirely sure what the song is about actually. But as I was listening to it and doing the dishes I thought about this post.
When I was a teenager my parents moved from Vallejo, California to Orem, Utah. It was for me a very difficult transition. It was further complicated by the fact that at the time it occurred I was in the middle of my first real social experience with the opposite sex. What I mean to say is right before I moved I was presented with what I perceived as the first possible relationship ever. And really that is what I want to talk about, my perceptions.
Really the story doesn't start when I moved to Utah. It started years earlier when I had a school boy crush on a girl named Christine (I use the real name because I am fairly sure she will never read this). I went to school with Christine for about 3 years. She was the smartest person in our class. I actually decided to become a straight A student because I saw that she was. As a little boy I thought she would be impressed.
The first year we barely got to know each other. I had a crush on her but she could never have known it. The second year we were seated close to each other. Close enough to interact but not close enough for my personal liking. The third and final year was sixth grade. On the first day I was shocked to see that she was seated on the other side of the room. About a month into that year the teacher moved her next to me where she stayed the rest of the year. Eventually the two of us were moved close to the teacher's desk with a couple of other students that I now think the teacher wanted us to help. The rest of that year I remember with fondness. I could talk to her all the time. And I did. At one point the other guy at our table, Ryan, basically let me know he knew about my crush and tried to tell me to go for it, whatever that means to kids in elementary school. But I was scared.
You see I was afraid of rejection. The truth is that now as an adult I can see that there was very little to be afraid of. The girl I had a crush on obviously had one on me. I was blinded by my fear.
Sometime about a year after leaving grade school she moved to upstate New York. That was the last I have ever heard about her. I think I once found her on Facebook but it could have been someone else. I never did tell her how I felt about her and I still feel like it was stupid.
Fast forward back to my previous story. I was 15 about to be 16 and I had another crush. I was afraid of telling the girl I liked her but this time I had two things to help me along. First, there was no real consequences because our family was already packing for Orem. Second, I was haunted by what had occurred to me before.
So, one night before I went to bed I wrote a little note. I can't remember what it said but it must have been like this, "I like you. I know I am moving but I wanted you to know before I left." And as I gave it to her the next day I felt like shooting myself rather than give it to her. However I did give it to her and the results were very positive. That time I felt like an idiot because by the time I found out she liked me too it was too late. We moved.
I withheld the name of this girl because she might read this. If you do don't be mad, the experience is illustrative.
Once I got to Utah I vowed to learn from my mistakes and not hold back ever again. What did I have to lose anyway? Nobody in Utah even knew me. I understood very little about how we as kids interacted and even less about myself. Because I made the same mistake again even while I was believing that I had grown out of it.
I had a neighbor in Orem, let's call her Julie. She treated me better than anyone else in my neighborhood (for some reason there were a lot of people that didn't like me but that is another story). She would say hello to me in school. She was just about the only person that didn't look away when I was around. It was strange. But I thought she was too beautiful. I thought that she was above me. So, rather than talk to her I talked to the girls that I thought were more at my level. And when I asked one of them out she turned out to be really boring and I never asked her out again. But all the time I thought I had grown out of my shyness.
Years later I ran into Julie in a store. I had a girlfriend with me. It was awkward and kind of enlightening. My girlfriend pointed out to me that Julie was obviously interested in me. It was in that moment that it all clicked in my brain.
Years and years of heartache and all I needed to know was one simple thing. That thing is that women are people too. They are subject to the same feelings as I was. They had their own desires and fears. Once I realized that my life changed. Or it would have had I realized it when I said I did. I learned the fact right then and there but it was not until years later that I really understood it. In all truth I think my wife really helped me understand it.
So the Golden Rule? Look at people as though they were you. Try to see what they see. You may see that they have a crush on you.