Despite the fact that most of the important struggles of being a teenager center around issues of acceptance and insecurities, learning about relationships is something that never seems to follow a monotonous route. Just when I thought that I had them all easily figured out, and that it was a matter of being mature and retaining my objectivity, a new form of the same problem comes along and puzzles me. In fact, I’m fairly sure that this post is not going to be the last of what my lessons have been on this topic.
I can’t explain to myself why I had a horrible four year long disease of desperately wanting someone in my life. It was almost as if, at some level, I was testing myself for whether I could be a good girlfriend or not. Maybe it was the hormones, or the peer pressure of the environment I was in, or very simply the lack of new people I got to meet that drove such a natural need to an obsessive drive. To date, I’ve had several unrequited crushes and one really awful trauma of a relationship. This data is really inconclusive, because it seems like I’m comparing the relationship potential of different people. Each person whom I’ve harbored affection for has been very unique to me, and has (unwittingly, perhaps) taught me several lessons about myself, for which I’m always grateful for. In chronologically ascending order, I have learned more about people and so have looked for the next prospective boyfriend with some altered criteria/opinion of boys in my mind. In the recent past, I’ve discovered that these experiences have changed me, even. So I cannot tell you if this is a good track record or a bad one.
I don’t mean to brag, but persistence is something that comes naturally to me. When I first realized that my affections would not always be returned, I told myself, “It’s okay, I just need to change <insert alienating factor here> about myself and I’ll be good to go once again.” More often than not, I couldn’t find out what those alienating factors could be, so I tried to change myself on several dimensions. Including my evaluating criteria. Maybe I had unfair expectations from someone else. This was something I was wont to do to myself, so it didn’t surprise me too much that I could apply this rubric to everyone else. But with every fall, I would complete a damage assessment report and tell myself that it was thoroughly educational and that now, I was completely ready to face what the world passed on to me next. Except that I wasn’t.
To an outsider, it would appear that a series of unrequited crushes implied that I was making the same mistake repeatedly. But a closer look at the finer nuances taught me a lot more about myself. My first crush (okay, so the past me really did not know what she was doing with her life then) was a sort of friendship that fell apart because my parents disapproved of me investing my valuable study time in futile pursuits. In hindsight, they were probably right. But back then, it didn’t feel so futile. The lesson I learned from this was that I had to manage my priorities in life better.
The next one was blatantly indifferent. I don’t know why, but it seemed like I was trying too hard to make sure we had a lot in common in order to try to get my affection across to him. But he didn’t care at all. This one didn’t leave me with very conclusive reasons as to why my charms didn’t work. After making several sweeping changes to myself and not getting anywhere, I finally concluded that if it wasn’t me, maybe it was him. I don’t mean to judge him here. I want to convey that we were probably incompatible human beings and he never really progressed beyond seeing me as a friend. The lesson I learned here was that I had to retain my originality to not fade into the backdrop of humanity.
No. 3 was rather surprising. I was probably a little too sensitive to what might have been construed as harmless flirting. But my mind went into overdrive about it. It was also rather unfortunate that the girl I used to think was my best friend went ahead and dated him, knowing full well that I was attracted to him. She had never been one for discretion or modesty, so soon enough the entire school knew about the mess ( I dread that he may have heard some of it too). For a while, I punished myself by convincing myself that I had to learn to get over this guy for my friend’s sake. Until, I discovered that she was a superb back-stabber, the rare varieties of which till date remains unmatched. I don’t want to judge her for her motives. But the resultant that followed was that I not only had to get over this crush, but also for my previously abiding affection for this friend. The lesson here was that I barely knew him enough to consider myself dating him.
Then came my “relationship”. While it had it’s pleasant moments in the beginning, they faded out rather quickly to some very harsh truths. In the perpetual cycle of being denied, I really wanted to be able to prove to myself that I was girlfriend-worthy material. So, I literally delved into this relationship without knowing who the other person I was dating really was. Some harsh revelations followed. But I still persisted in this sinking venture for quite a while, because I thought I was strong enough to adapt to the change, and also, perhaps that he would grow up. The lesson very easily followed. I had too low a self-esteem to actually consider myself ready for a relationship. But I learned exactly what the lower limit was. My ex taught me exactly what NOT to accept in a relationship , with anyone. Also, I was too vastly incompatible with him. Some adaptations do not come easily, especially when they are not required.
What followed was another extremely stupid lapse in judgement, that I detailed in my last post. But basically, I was impatient, on a rebound and I very clearly got rejected by saying that I wasn’t attractive enough. It taught me to accept my self-image, to grow up from the immaturity of chasing a relationship with people who very well weren’t capable of supplying the affection I wanted.
I used to think I had seen it all. I pictured myself as one of the respected elders who have seen enough of life and who can nod their head and smile, when others around them complain of the problems they once suffered. But that assumption in itself was a mark of my immaturity. Life treats other people a lot harder, and I shouldn’t dare to complain because of all the other factors that have gone right for me. Today I like to think that I’m wiser. Perhaps the biggest sign of this maturity is that I know that I probably haven’t seen the last of it. More of these disappointments will come and go, but as long as I keep that report card of my own lessons, I’m likely to grow into a stronger (hopefully better) human being.