Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, which means that love is inadvertently in the air whether I want it to be or not. Generally I swing towards the latter.
I know I said the New Year would bring with it new ideologies about the lack of seriousness that comes with collegiate relationships, but it’s February now and ideas that have been instilled in my personality since I was a small child cannot be changed with a snap of my fingers just because we’ve entered 2023.
See, a catastrophe came along with my very first real crush. I was in the first grade, and he was this little blonde boy in my class who I played basketball with on the weekends. His name was Sam and he was the love of my life. So you see that at six years old I was on a seemingly normal track – having crushes on blonde boys in my class. As a first grader, I was quite curious and questioning, and there’s a lot about life that you don’t know about yet. Despite this constant questioning of the world around me, at the age of six my parents weren’t really interested in answering every single question I had, especially when it came to where babies came from. So they opted for a version of what most parents tell their children.
“When you really love someone, then you’ll have a baby.”
This is where the catastrophe came in. Because of course this statement seemed squeaky clean to my parents, and the general public of parents everywhere, but it didn’t have the same effect on me. Instead of being satisfied with the answer, I became very, very scared. I loved Sam a lot, which meant it was only a matter of time until I became pregnant.
So from that moment on, I forced myself to no longer get crushes. From a young age I knew that I had trouble with being too obsessive about things. I never knew how to simply like something or have a hobby, I always let it completely consume me. I saw that my friends were having crushes and not getting pregnant, but they also were not half as addictive or intense as me. So in my mind, it made sense that if any of the girls at my elementary school had to worry about loving a crush so much they would get pregnant at 6 years old, it would be me.
At sleepovers when we would all sit in a circle and tell everyone our crush, I would say that I didn’t have one. It started off as a lie but eventually it became true. See, whenever I would have thoughts about a boy being anything more than a friend, I would replace those thoughts with worries about what life would be like if I were to get pregnant from this silly little crush. The seven-year-old sitting across from me picking his nose could never father my child adequately! And just like that, my proclivity to have crushes diminished. It was as if I classically conditioned myself to not get crushes. A sacrifice was made, but I knew in my heart I could never play soccer to my full abilities with a pregnant stomach.
By the time I learned how babies were actually made when I was 11, it was far too late. The conditioning was done, and done well. I should have been gifted an honorary doctor of psychology degree the way Taylor Swift was gifted an honorary doctor of fine arts degree. This takes us up to the present moment where I now, at twenty years old, still don’t really understand how people can have a crush on others just because of some illogical fear I developed at seven. Pavlov truly is rolling in his grave right now.
I told this story to Blakely a few days ago when she was talking about the plans she and her boyfriend, Finnegan, had. She laughed before following up with the question, “Do you think if you didn’t have this experience as a child you wouldn’t be so standoffish towards men?”
Blakely loves to go all psychology major on me like that, and I don’t even think she really realizes that she’s doing it. I have to put her back in her place and remind her that I’m an economics major and if she wants me to answer hard hitting questions like that, she is required to provide multiple graphs to help me answer it.
This isn’t the first time I have been called standoffish, or some other form of the word like blunt, unwelcoming, or unfriendly. I’m really making myself sound like a terrible person, I promise I have plenty of friends that find me delightful. However I am telling you a story about love and heartbreak and relationships, so this is the way I must be portrayed.
When I was in high school a boy named Dallas texted me a picture of a poster board homecoming proposal on it and asked, “If I asked you to homecoming tomorrow, would you say yes?” I thought this was an awfully cowardly way to go about things, which I told him right before informing him that I would say no. The next day I saw him ask another girl with the same exact poster board. Later in gym class I made fun of him for it and asked how many other girls he had texted the night before to make sure he wasn’t publicly humiliated. He told me that I was too boyish and blunt. But in reality, shouldn’t someone get at least a bit of shit for doing something like that? I was just doing the world a favor. I didn’t mind that he asked someone else though, as I had an out of town tournament that weekend anyways and wouldn’t be able to make it in any capacity.
When Caden brought home Girlfriend to celebrate Christmas with us, Father Rooster asked what I thought of her. I responded, “She’s fine, but she’s going back to Portugal in a few weeks anyway so it doesn’t really matter.” My parents ratted me out for this statement, something that I didn’t even mean in a negative connotation, it was just a factual statement to me. Mother Hen tells me that just because something is a fact doesn’t mean it should be stated so bluntly.
This all brings us back to the warning one of my best friends from high school, Navya, gave her boyfriend before we met. “She’s not that friendly, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t like you.” This was the first time I had gotten this personality debriefing from someone close to me. I was offended that this is what she told someone about me that I had yet to meet. The preconceived notions would be through the roof. At that point in my life I had just turned 18 and saw the world shrinking down to fit into the palm of my hand with all the future opportunities I had and I didn’t need to be reminded of how at 16 I turned down a boy’s invitation to prom because I had a College Board AP test that Monday, had to spend Sunday studying, and therefore didn’t want to go to prom and stay out late Saturday night.
My whole life has been like this. The world is a tennis ball and I am an overactive golden retriever. If the world is that easy to grab, I don’t see why I should distract myself with anything else. I have always been very, and at some points debilitatingly, focused on my goals and how I can wrestle what I want out of life. “The world respects people who think they should be running it.” as Taylor Jenkins Reid says.
At the current moment, and previous moments up to date, I cannot decipher how a boyfriend would help me towards that mission in some existential way. A boyfriend would add another commitment onto my plate of someone that I must see on a regular basis and, from being a spectator of my friends’ relationships, boys seem quite needy sometimes. I am the only needy person that I can deal with at the moment.
Blakely tried to get me to go out to dinner with her and Finnegan for Valentine’s Day. I declined without asking her to give me the psychological reasoning behind not wanting to go to dinner with just the two of them. I do not think Finnegan would have appreciated my presence, especially since Blakely once told him that I had once cornered her after a party to say, “There are four billion men on this earth and that’s the one you want?” He took slight offense to this, but I was really just trying to test her commitment, not insult him. Plus, Tuesdays are one of my three running days for the week, which meant I had to get to the gym and hit the treadmill as it was raining outside.
Blakely asked me if I would skip a night of running if I did have a boyfriend to take me out to dinner for the holiday. To appease her, I responded “I suppose we’ll just have to cross that bridge when we get there.”
She snarkily responded, “Feels like we’re in the desert.” Seems like she’s the unfriendly one now.
P.s. Let the record show that I got a 5 on the AP test that I skipped prom to study for.
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