Correction. This is gonna be hard for me to publish.
So I apologize in advance if this story seems vague.
But here I go.
I'm gonna tell you a story about a boy I know/knew.
This long story starts at ten years old. There was this boy I knew from, let's say school, and I had heard the smallest, slightest rumor that he liked me. Everyone knew the boy's name. Let's call him Andrew. He was a familiar face to so many people. I, on the other hand, was not. I was new that year and had a small group of three friends, which included my sister. So you can imagine my surprise when this boy walked over to me calling my name. Anyone who ever met him can agree he had a very likable personality, so we became friends pretty quickly.
Just like many boy/girl friendships at age ten, we developed crushes on each other. Well, it wasn't long before another rumor started that Andrew didn't like me anymore. Now, if you don't know this about me, often my curiosity overrides my shyness, so I was quick to ask him if this was true. Problem was I made the mistake of not asking him privately, so when I walked up to him as he was standing in his group of friends, and I asked if he still liked me, the answer was no.
Now remember. I'm only ten, maybe soon eleven, so my thought process went like this: I like him. He doesn't like me. Why am I going to keep liking someone who doesn't like me? It wasn't until a couple years after I found out he was lying.
Years went by and my list of friends lengthened. By twelve/thirteen I had my first real (as real as it could get at thirteen) boyfriend. It wasn't all roses and chocolates, but I had no complaints. By this age, rumors were juicy. All my friends and I talked about was so and so liked each other, this person hates this other person now, she likes him but he's dating this other girl, etc. Well, another rumor passed by. A friend told me that Andrew liked me again. But it wasn't again. This is when I found out he had never stopped liking me. A part of me didn't know what to do. I didn't even want to tell him I had now liked someone else. I was nervous our friendship would end, and I didn't want that. I think I asked my sister to tell him for me.
See, that didn't stop him. Andrew was a very determined kid. You couldn't get him to stop trying no matter how much you told him. So it didn't surprise me when he didn't believe my sister. I had to tell him myself. And even though I didn't like him anymore, I still always wanted to be his friend, and I never wanted him to be mad at me. He was a hothead, like me, but in a good way more than bad. I remember how protective he used to be. Probably still is. He told me once that if ____ (we'll leave the boy unnamed) ever dated me and broke my heart, he'd break his leg.
Probably by the time I turned fourteen, my boyfriend and I decided to break up. It was fun while it lasted, but we both needed to move on. A year passed and things were normal. Until this one day. Something changed. Till this day I can't really explain it, but I saw Andrew and it was different. He wasn't different and neither was I, I guess. But something was different. I just remember wanted to hug him. I didn't want to kiss him or anything. I didn't want to date him. I just wanted to hug him. A lot.
I came home that day and thought it over. I blamed this feeling on desperation, for not having a boyfriend for over a year. I blamed it on The Hunger Games books, which I had been reading at the time (Peeta always reminded me of him). I blamed it on guilt, as if I was now "giving in" to liking him because I had never reciprocated the feelings before. I blamed it on anything. Then, the next time I saw him, I claimed I didn't like him. I told myself it was just a one-day thing. I told myself we were just friends. Next day, I hear another rumor he liked me again. I started to feel so guilty. I went over in my mind if I had acted differently or said anything that could've led him on. I always had the fear in the back of my mind that one day he'd get mad at me and we would no longer be friends.
A month goes by and the feelings are back, but this time they don't leave. They linger. "They're worse," or so I say in my diary. And I wait for them to pass, until I knew they weren't going to leave. I knew this the night I watched him dance with another girl. Now they were just friends (this is what I was told), but that night I came home miserable. I knew that everything I said about not wanting to date him or kiss him or be his girlfriend was no longer true. Despite all of this realization, no part of me wanted to tell him. It was a secret. Only for me, myself, and I (and maybe my sister, too).
The longer I kept this to myself, the harder it became. By now, I was fifteen turning sixteen and the feelings did nothing but grow stronger. We started talking more and our friendship began maturing. If I didn't see or talk to him for over a week, it felt like we were separated for months. Well, it felt that way for me at least. More months passed and the feelings got "worse." It wasn't just thoughts about the present, but about the future, too. I thought about college. About marriage. About kids. And see, I know this is probably common with sixteen year old girls, but it wasn't for me. I had rarely ever thought about my wedding day with a boy I liked. It was different from what I had felt before. I thought we were meant to be.
About ten months had gone by since I had first started liking Andrew, and I told myself I was falling in love with him. I had never told myself that about a guy. I had loved boys before, as friends or boyfriends, but I had never been in love. By the next month, it was time it was out in the open. I told my best friend (who I had kept it from for so long. I was shy and didn't want to say anything before) and a little bit after, I started a message to Andrew. Maybe it was because it was Christmas time (I consider that a very romantic time of the year), but I just felt as if it had been long enough. I started the message by asking what he considered our relationship. He told me he considered us best friends, which I was happy with. Which was true. Well, I followed that response by telling him I had been having feelings for him recently, and that I didn't want him to think anything needed to change. We were still going to stay best friends and he didn't need to reciprocate the feelings. I just wanted him to know how I felt.
Under unrelated circumstances, we stopped seeing each other, and we didn't necessarily keep up an ongoing conversation through text or messenger. That "meant-to-be" image in my head started to shatter. I realized that the thoughts in my head were just thoughts. Just feelings. It wasn't anybody's fault. I know that. I told him nothing was going to change, but the act of telling him was change enough. After a little while, we saw each other here and there and had normal conversations. But it was never like before. I started to miss him. Not so much as a boy, but as a friend. I used to always blame myself for ruining our friendship. I found out later from a friend that he saw my message, but he had started to like another girl at the time. Again, I blamed myself. If I was in his position, I would've been frustrated. If I liked someone who never liked me back, then all of a sudden once I liked someone else, that person liked me! I'd be furious.
Times come and go when I regret that. Other times pass when I just think about it. And sometimes I wonder what would've happened if our timing would've worked out better, if we would've just liked each other at the same time, either as kids or as teenagers. It always felt to me like a Ross and Rachel situation. And even though I told you at the beginning I was going to be vague, it turns out I wasn't really vague at all. I'm sorry if you know me personally and this is awkward for you because you know exactly what I'm talking about, but I wanted to share this story.
I'm not sharing to confess any life-long secret love or to get angry and tell someone off. I'm also not looking to seek this boy out and "win him back," (although the smallest part of me hopes he sees this and understands I did cherish our friendship as kids), and I'm not looking to create any awkwardness between anyone else. I just wanted to tell this story because I want people who were like me to know shit happens. It happens, but guess what? You survive. You get through it. I have my share of stories (believe it or not), but I've lived to tell all of them. So boys and girls and men and women, don't be afraid to say what's on your mind. Don't do it for love or for happiness or for the other person. Do it for yourself. Tell people how you feel. You'll be okay.
For those who stayed tuned in to this obnoxiously long story, thank you for giving me the time to speak my mind.