When I was a Junior in high school, there was this Senior that I had a crush on. She was pretty, smart, funny, into sports, and she was a genuinely nice person. Honestly, she was way out of my league but she was always really nice to me. I’d had a bunch of classes with her over the years and we always seemed to have a pretty decent back and forth. I just remember one day where she came into class crying because something had happened with the soccer team (I think). She sat behind me and was just really broken up so I turned to her and said something I can’t remember. I wish I could remember because it must have been really good. I’ll never forget the way she looked at me after I said it.
The problem was that my self-esteem was in the basement and I had no confidence in my speaking. I stuttered a bit when I was really young and when I got nervous, I tended to stammer and lose my train of thought. That’s why I preferred to write because I could get it all on the page. It didn’t get interrupted and it was harder to get misinterpreted. I just always had more confidence in my writing than in speaking.
So I wrote her a letter expressing my feelings.
I remember putting a lot of time into it. Like, I worked on it after school for at least couple days. I put all of my 17 year old feelings into it, put it in an envelope with her name on it, and put it in my locker to give to her.
And it stayed there.
In truth, I kept chickening out because I was terrified of rejection. Not necessarily her rejecting me but someone else finding out and trying to clown me later. So I kept putting it off until the end of the year was right on the horizon and I realized that I’d probably do well to give it to her before she graduated.
I was still nervous and wanted to make sure I wasn’t making a big mistake so I showed it to one of my friends while we were walking home with another friend. Man, he read that letter like I’d just handed him my most fire raps and just hyped the hell out of me. And for a brief moment, I felt confident that I was doing the right thing.
Unfortunately, the other friend takes the letter and for reasons I still don’t understand just rips into it. He just starts freaking out over all of the expressions of affection. I did lay it on pretty thick, but we were teenagers. So I stood on the bike trail while he waved at me yelling about how it was too much and that I’d freak her out. Whatever confidence the first friend had built up, the second one had torched with a flamethrower. Looking back, I probably should have listened to the one that ended up getting a girlfriend over the one girls couldn’t stand because he was arrogant, condescending, and slightly sexist.
But here’s why I can’t be completely mad at him.
When I got home, did I scrap the letter completely or write a new ‘friend version’ of my letter? No because that would have been smart. Instead, I left the letter as it was with all of my feelings and confessions but added a second paragraph that basically equated to ‘psyche! I’m just playin’. Good luck at college, though. You a real one’.
Writing that made me cringe from embarrassment so hard.
My reasoning was that my second friend had essentially killed any inkling that this girl liked me. I mean, why would she? She was on two sports teams, in the top three of her class, and Homecoming queen her senior year. I was just this awkward dork who wore hand me downs and wrote all the time. There was no way. So I added the second half so that if she read the first half and was like ‘ew’ then it would play it off and she’d laugh before going on with her life. At least that’s how I justified it in my brain. I’ll be honest, I had a lot going on back then so I wasn’t in the best headspace.
Anyway, I take that letter and give it to her. She hugs me. Goes on to graduate and I don’t really think anything of it.
It isn’t until sometime later that I tell the story for my younger brother and he asks the question, “But what if she did like you, though?”
He then pointed out that I’d put a lot into that first part so even if she liked me a little bit, I likely was telling her things she’d wanted to hear and probably caused her to have feelings only for me to cut her legs out from under her with a ‘lol jk’. Man, did I feel dumb. Like, really dumb. Because looking back, she probably did like me.
I saw her a couple times after that but I felt so foolish and so embarrassed that I didn’t know how to talk to her. There’s no way to explain what happened or at least not a way that I could find. I just ended up being really awkward and eventually she just stopped talking to me, which was fair. In hindsight, she probably dodged a bullet.
If I could do it again, I probably would have just given her the original letter. The worst thing that would have happened would have been that she let me down easy. I regret letting my second friend get into my head because who knows what could have happened.
But don’t let other people get into your head and make you second guess yourself. You might sabotage something with the potential to be great. And don’t second guess yourself either. Many times, we self-sabotage because we don’t think we deserve something or that we’re not good enough. Screw that. Go for the gold.
Within reason of course. Don’t go jumping out of planes without a parachute or something like that, but have a little faith in yourself.