Last year, I met this guy who shared three out of six classes with me. We worked through a lot of our coursework together, and even when we weren’t working he seemed to be a really nice guy. More so, I especially enjoyed his sense of humor. He knew how to make me laugh, I’ll give him that.
I don’t know how but as time progressed, it dawned on me that he was probably devoting more of his attention to me. As someone who was just a few months away from the demise of a really nasty relationship, I thought I should have been more careful. But I’m really good at deluding myself. The close proximity did not help either. Through some convoluted reasoning of my own, in which I perhaps over analyzed and misread his friendliness, I arrived at the conclusion that he might have a crush on me. He would remember the little details about me, the ones which I thought nobody else cared to remember. I thought that he was a shy guy. So, I took it upon myself to respond to his initiative, however faint. Thus far, all my “relationships”, if they can be called such were mostly one sided. I was investing too much and not being reciprocated. So, I knew what it felt like to express my affection and be ignored, or even rejected. He was a nice guy, and in some of my better moods, I may still admit that he is. But I don’t know how or when I began to think of him as more than a friend.
Impatience is my most lethal weakness. I am still learning the fine art of how to wait. So, like a fool that risked everything, I went out on a very faint limb and asked him out. I’m not the variety of girl that believes that only men should be doing the asking out. Besides, most shy people seem to need a little encouragement to open up to something so intimate. I had proved to myself that he was not like my ex, through some rather unfair personality comparisons (I’m usually not the variety who believes people are uniform across some level to be compared). Then, I told myself I was ready for whatever response he might say and I asked him if he would oblige me with his company for an evening.
I didn’t get a response for 6 hours.
Impatient, worried and stressed out, I kept wondering if he had got the message, maybe he wasn’t ready for it, maybe I had almost completely jeopardized our friendship and so on. Frenetic, anxious and slowly terrified, I began to reach out to my friends, for some desperate hope of reassurance, for the strength to wait. It was extremely unfortunate that he was on very close terms with my ex, a factor that had somehow eluded me when I was evaluating his potential. I then went on to do the most cringe-worthy and embarrassing thing I have ever done in my life, till date. I had the audacity (gumption, if you want to be optimistic about it) to contact my ex, who was scheduled for a squash match with him that evening, and get an answer somehow, anyhow. It was an especially tortuous route that entailed a lot of emotional fallout, but I was so impatient for a response that I was literally crying in my room, staring at my phone, wondering why I was subjecting myself to this.
I will summarize my interaction with my ex in one sentence. It was thoroughly unpleasant. But, in some show of anger and defiance he agreed to ask his friend about my query. I complained to him that he was the one who alleged that I should be moving on, and taking the initiative. Which was exactly what I did. Yet, the results were inconclusive. Finally, almost eight hours later, I was declined. I was, if I may quote, asked to “forget this drama ever happened. I never thought of you in that way.”
It was harder to swallow than I thought it would be. After everything that I was willing to offer him, he simply discarded me and walked away. The rest of the semester was spent in avoiding awkward encounters and spending several nights of hurting my self-esteem. Believe me, that episode of my life is something I am not proud of, but the lessons I learned from it were infinite. Somehow, I was still looking for some form of closure at the end of the semester. Even though, we still gradually reverted back to being friends and everything, I still couldn’t get the thought of “maybe there could have been something more” out of my head. On the last day of the semester, after hours of intense persuasion I discovered from a mutual friend that he had told everyone the reasons why I was rejected. I was too hyperactive and I wasn’t attractive enough.
I don’t mean to elevate myself on a moral pedestal here, but I had never considered his physical attributes into considering my possible relationship. It came as a rather harsh reminder that the world might not kind enough to judge me by my own standards. I was hurt. I was wounded. I was depressed. Still fresh from the wounds of the last relationship, I needed all my strength to get over these self-destructive habits. I couldn’t help being hyperactive. My philosophy has always been that eventually there will come a time when I want to be filled with enthusiasm and energy, but my frail body would not support me. So, in anticipation of that day, I live my happiness to the fullest. I still take pride in the fact that I am still fascinated and excited by the simple, little things of life. They make me happy. That’s a part of who I am. If someone else didn’t like it, that was going to be their problem, not mine. I was tired of apologizing for who I am. It made my entire existence feel like an apology, for something that wasn’t even wrong.
Now we come to not being pretty enough. Personally, aesthetics is rather subjective. So I didn’t feel too bad by the fact that he didn’t think I was pretty enough. I’m sure he is not alone in that opinion. But what hurt me the most was the evasiveness, the fact that he excluded me for something that was so petty. Was he really looking for a relationship with someone who fit his characterized attributes of pretty? Perhaps. I don’t know. I don’t think I will ever want to either. I can’t change the way the basic structure of my face looks, and thus far, my physical form has served me well. It is healthy, it is functional and it supports my energy-driven lifestyle. But as someone who was deeply influenced by emotions, I considered that a relationship must comprise more of a mental investment than merely surface properties.
Today, I feel comfortable enough to laugh back at this incident and look at it objectively. But there were moments when I felt worthless and unloved. My parents and my friends (who’ve supported me through all my self-inflicted, or otherwise, trials and tribulations) reminded me that I was better off trying to seek joy in loving those who loved me back, instead of expecting something of a person that he was incapable of providing. I’ve also learned to break out of the cycle of constantly wondering if I was good enough. I’m not perfect was a fact I was all too painfully conscious of most of my adolescence. But I expected other people to understand that. They didn’t, which went on to prove that they weren’t perfect either, but it wasn’t going to be my responsibility to mimic those standards. I am better off without having people like him in my life. My existing friends are numerous and supportive enough to teach me what my true worth is. I don’t know if they realize just how influential they’ve been in my life. Neither, I suppose, does he know how much the aftermath changed me.