First and foremost, I am a firm believer in not needing someone to complete me. I have been on that independent-woman-who-doesn’t-need-a-man train since I was 7. Where most girls felt the need to chase boys on the playground, I found comfort in anything else. It’s not that I was oblivious to boys. I knew they were there. But as far as liking them, nope. In the fourth grade a boy in my class told me he liked me. It was the first time a boy had told me that and actually meant it as wanting to be my boyfriend. It was weird. I told him that we were too young and that I was not interested (Some would say I was ahead of my time). He continued to like me even after I told him no multiple times. I just wasn’t interested.
In middle school the idea of dating boys didn’t even dawn on me until my 8th grade year. Up until then I had worn dirty converse and ACDC shirts to school. My lack of allure was no surprise. Whenever a guy would tell me that they liked me I was get so awkward and wonder what the hell was wrong with them. All I knew was people got weird when they liked someone. So I got weird when people liked me. It’s like kryptonite to me. The feeling would build up in my stomach and I couldn’t handle it. It’s not like I was anti-boy or anything. It was more like the opposite of girlfriend material. I was boyfriend repellent. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my fair share of crushes. I would pine over some boy behind closed doors but I would never tell them I liked them in fear of that feeling. The boy from fourth grade told me he still liked me and I got awkward and told him no, again. Sure I had talked to guys before but dating them? No.
By the time high school rolled around I was convinced that my life would turn out to be some MTV series and all of my awkwardness would make way for a newer, hotter me. Unfortunately, I was wrong. I was still awkward. But, on the up side I finally had boobs which did make some boys talk to me but not for the reasons I desired. I wanted someone intellectually stimulating, who wanted to really get to know me, and we’d talk about art and music and be adventurous together. Unfortunately, my school was in short supply of those types. So I remained single. I watched as my friends went through boyfriends like magazines and I secretly thanked God that I didn’t feel the need to as well. I sat with friends and listened to them cry over their broken hearts. I had pretty much written off dating my final years in high school. Not only in fear of the “feeling” but in fear of heartbreak. When boys would try to talk to me I wouldn’t give them the time of day. I was convinced that I was doing the right thing.
I liked this boy during my freshman year of high school and I finally talked to him my senior year. We talked for a long time and I was really into him. In the midst of me falling for him, he revealed to me his true self. Not only did he not give a crap about me, but after I told him of my virgin status he told me that that was all he wanted from me. It nearly broke my heart. After that I swore off all the feelings. I focused on school and graduated. During my time of focus, the boy from my fourth grade class got back in touch with me. We talked on and off for 10 years. He took me to prom, twice. We were really good friends. But after all that time he told me he still had feelings for me. And as usual, I got awkward. I could feel that familiar gut-wrenching feeling in my stomach. But I didn’t want to feel it. I wanted nothing more than to feel the same way that he felt about me.
I spent the better half of my summer trying to hide and avoid my feelings for him. Avoiding him when he got too close. Putting up barriers so that he couldn’t get in. Constantly telling myself that I didn’t care when I did. I couldn’t even say the word boyfriend out loud without cringing. My family thought it was funny that I couldn’t commit myself to someone. My friends thought it meant that I was smart or strong. But in reality it was actually lonely to never let anyone in. To always be at arm’s length. I’ve spent a long time running from how I feel. To insure I’d never get hurt I stopped myself from feeling anything at all for anyone. The best way to not get your heart broken is to never open your heart to begin with. I’m all too well at doing this. But I’m done running. As of today I’ve been dating my fourth grade admirer for 4 months. I still get awkward but he knows that’s just who I am. 19 years of being single has only reinforced my belief in not needing anyone to complete me because I am already whole. But it also taught me that I can’t try to avoid being hurt by not feeling at all. Life is all about the gamble. You don’t know if you’ll get hurt or not. It’s the risk you have to be willing to take. The outcome could be something wonderful or everything you were afraid of. Either way you learn and you grow from the experience.