I believe it’s safe for me to say that, after a lot of reflecting on myself, I have a very naive mindset when it comes to real world problems and situations. Yes, I do have a considerable amount of self-hatred but it isn’t just talking right now. Like I have said before, I want to be in control of myself and that means coming to terms with my flaws and realising that I can change it by realising that I have some responsibility of it gestating in the first place.
I guess I’ve always been a dreamer. Things were going well for me at a young age. I was academically gifted, I had high hopes for my future that I believe I would achieve, I was happy. I thought life was going to be that moment, stretched out over years. A problem would come, I would be smart enough to overcome, happily ever after. Suffice to say, it wasn’t the case. The problems became harder and I found myself without the tools to tackle them. At the time, I convinced myself that the support I believed I needed was not provided and fully set upon the system and how it had let me down. I now realise there was so much I could have done. For now, I am going to talk about love, what I thought it was and how I go about dealing with it now. Maybe you can relate.
I was very health-inhibited from a young age. I was diagnosed with asthma at the age of 2 and, to this day, I have vivid memories of being four-years old and waking up in the middle of the night unable to breathe, coughing profusely while my parents struggled to put the gas spacer in my mouth so I could take my inhaler. Due to how I was unable to breathe growing up, it resulted in a lot adverse affects on other aspects of my life. Mum and Dad prevented me from doing extracurricular sports and I grew up thinner than a lot of children my age. Even today, I’m 23, my gym schedule is pretty weak and I am skinnier than most adults my age. During my mood swing-y years, I quietly resented my parents from restricting me from doing sports. The status quo was that you were popular if you could play football or hockey or basketball, it was what the kids liked and, from a distance, I wished I was part of it. But I couldn’t so, naturally, growing up, my studying became my power. I had become one of the smartest children in my primary school and then in my secondary school. I had grown accustomed to being the kid that would be asked for answers, that teachers would be proud of, that represented the eloquent, upstanding young man that schools are supposed to produce.
I had gotten too comfortable. I had shielded myself away from life, believing that being that person in school would have me set for my life and how wrong I was.
I started sixth-form and it went downhill. I realised that I was surrounded by young men and women who were superior to me. These were people who were not only the smartest when they were in secondary school, but had honed their social skills, hobbies and personalities. They were walking rainbow-waterfalls, all of this goodness pouring out of them and so many colours. These people played sports and managed to study and have relationships and they were so happy. I realised I wanted that but had only managed to be happy by being at one thing. Being around these people, these human beings that I saw as perfect and ideal, made me feel small. I was pathetic, I couldn’t talk to them and when I did, it was a false persona of confidence. I felt like I was holding my breath, making jokes I didn’t find funny and just anxious all the time.
So, what has this go to do with love? Sorry, thought I’d paint a picture first. You now know what a pathetic mess I was (still am!).
Well, naturally, you can imagine being around girls was difficult for me. Maybe some of you can relate. I would never approach them because after learning I wasn’t as ‘strong’ as I thought I was, I didn’t think I was good around..well, anyone. My guy friends were smarter and cooler than me and I just wanted to be them and I couldn’t. I wasn’t smart, I wasn’t cool. All girl friends were smart, funny and pretty…and I was terrified.
Now, to a lot of you depressed folks or anxiety-sufferers, this does not sound like anything different. Everyone with problems like me feels a little unsettled around the sex they’re attracted to. I’ve mentioned how I’m naive in my mindset and I treat these situations like I’m still in school. If a girl is talking to me, maybe she likes me. Or maybe she’s pretending to like me or, hey, maybe she hates me. And since I was 16, I’ve been terrified of that prospect. These outcomes that I have created scared me and I can never be comfortable around girls. And you can imagine, it’s doubly bad when I think I like the girl. I do not want to find out the girl I really like is pretending to like me or actually doesn’t like me.
I’ve come to terms with a pretty simple revelation recently. While I was working at my old job, I worked very closely to a woman there. We spent pretty much the entire day around each other so I got to know a bit more than other workers. She was beautiful, funny, had this everyday smarts vibe so you know she can take care of herself and always pissed at management so when she was frustrated it was adorable. I started to like her. I’ve had feelings like this in the past which I’ll cover in my next post. These feelings for her were one of the reasons why I took therapy. I let these feelings plague my life, my work and how I was around her and other people. I worked at that job for 6 months and which point I only talked occasionally to her through Snapchat. Then, some weeks passed and I didn’t hear from her at all. She had gone from the girl that invited me to her wedding to someone who just stopped talking to me.
Then, she texted me after reacting to something on my story. I study away from home, so when I came back, she dropped a casual text, asking how long I was around for. I texted back saying I was in town for a couple of days and asked how she was. She didn’t respond. To this day, the message remains unread.
I took a lot from this experience, which has opened my mind a bit. Maybe you’ll agree, maybe you won’t, maybe it will just bum you out. When I was working with this girl, I thought I was in love, I guess I’m still the dreamer who wants to fall in love, get married and live happily ever after, and all the while this girl is loving me back. When she stopped texting, I thought she never like me, even as a friend, when really I never reached out to her because I’m too insecure about making the first move. If she cared for as a friend, she’d reach out first. And then, she stopped responding to my texts.
What I learned was this: maybe sometimes, there isn’t a deeper meaning to what people do or say and that’s just normal. I’ve always done everything of note out of some form of passion. I would talk to people and wait for them to say goodbye so they would never feel like I wanted to stop talking because I didn’t want to upset them. Maybe, if sometimes I just said, “cool, see you around”, to my friends, I would realise that it just means they are done talking for now. It doesn’t mean goodbye forever. Maybe when someone smiles at you, laughs with you and talks to you, it’s not because they’re harbouring deep feelings of love or friendship. Maybe, they’re just being nice decent people who want you to feel comfortable. If everyone was just accommodating like that, we wouldn’t need to feel insecure. I believe this woman was being the kind of person I wish everyone was. Maybe then I wouldn’t feel upset when she stopped texting, because the I’d know what it was. I made this girl something she wasn’t in my head and that’s why I looked back and thought, yes, she stopped texting and calling, but it’s my fault because she was doing what she was always doing and I made it seem like she was someone who abandoned her friend. I realised that I need to come to terms with the fact that sometimes people just do not feel deep feelings everyday and I want to be able to apply that. Then I would be content. Then, I could be friends with a girl and be happy that I am friends. I can stop falling in love so easily.
There’s probably a part two, I want to talk about my sixth form years, where I fell in love the first time, those experiences shaped a lot of my thoughts on the concept. Let me know if you’ve had experiences like this, whether you agree or disagree. I’d love to know.