The heart is a funny thing. It opens us up to new emotions. To foreign experiences, and to situations we never think we’d have to deal with. My heart has taught me a lot. It’s taught me about my values. My attitudes. My character. Being guided by the heart has served to teach some of the greatest personal lessons.
I was 15 when I fell in love for the first time. I sound like such a grandma, but nearly 4 years from that commemorative and daunting self confession, I’ve come a long way, and a lot has changed.
I fell in love with a boy. We’d been friends for a while. And he was the first guy I became close to, who wasn’t family or someone who was akin to an older brother I never had. It was every bit as special and as unique as I thought it would be. Some describe falling for someone like fireworks being set off. For me, it was like the warmth of a blanket had settled over me, and the pleasant comfort of a steaming cup of coffee was slowly mellowing me from within. It was slow and soft and comforting.
At 15, I was painfully naive. And also wore rose tinted glasses. It was with almost childlike innocence that I realised I liked him more than as a friend. But of course, out of fear of screwing up the precious friendship we had fostered, I kept my longing quiet and played the role of the dutiful friend.
We became closer. Talked more and more. He was one of the few guys who knew me for who I truly was: a little shy and self conscious, wildly passionate, fiercely loyal and driven as hell. He saw various sides to me as well. From the confident outspoken young woman, to the young teenager who sometimes needed a little protection from the world around her.
He made me happy. Seeing messages from him when I’d wake up first thing in the morning never ceased to cause a zoo’s stampede in my stomach – as cliché as it is. It’s like he knew what to say to keep me wanting more. We’d talk. We’d flirt. We’d laugh. We’d have serious conversations as well. It was mystical and magical and at 16, I was falling fast and didn’t know how to stop my feelings.
At 17, I experienced my first heartbreak. It had taken me two years to quell my anxiety about screwing up one of the best things in my life. I decided that as a confident, independent young 17 year old, I didn’t need to wait for a man to ask me out. I could do it myself. Months of flirting, cute messages and enough phone confiscations during my classes at school had proven that my feelings weren’t one sided.
But as all dramatic moments do, I received my heart, shattered into fragments, on the day of one of the most important exams in my short 17 years. I cried at a public train station and passed it off as allergies when my concerned friends found me pathetically sniffling and wiping away traces of tears. And slowly it turned to anger. I screwed up my exam and returned home in a fit of rage. Because how dare he.
Consolation from my best friends quelled the storm of emotions, and I vowed to draw back from him. In my hurt and anger and confusion, I did spiral into an endless chain of: why am I not good enough, why did he flirt and play coy if he didn’t want me, and I’m nobody’s bitch.
At 17 years and 4 months, with a heart that was confused, I tried to navigate through what I was feeling and find solace in knowing he didn’t want me, and that was ok because I’m nobody’s second serving.
The flirting continued, the messages to cover for him from his parents kept coming, and foolishly, I decided to listen to my heart and try keep the friendship alive by being there for him.
And looking back on that, I was such an idiot for doing so.
At 17 and a half, I lost contact with the guy I first fell in love with.
At 18, I tried to rekindle the friendship.
At 18 and 7 months, I completely cleared him from my life. Social media, phone, text. Photos, songs, screenshots, memories.
All thrown away. All buried in the realisation that there was no point in holding onto something toxic.
Now, 4 days out from turning 19, I’ve found peace with myself. I’ve come full circle to realise how much emotional stress I put myself through for someone who didn’t even deserve a single hi from me.
Is it sad to see the way in which a first love dissolved? Of course. Do i regret anything? To an extent I do. But I learnt so much about myself in that chaotic teenage journey. The tears and frustration and long conversations with my best friends taught me so much. I look back on that period in my life in contemplation now. It’s a source of amusement with my friends who knew. We look back on how fickle it all was. How innocent. But how educational it was as well. This journey serves as the perfect entertainment for those days when reflection on how you’ve changed is so important.
First loves always stay with you. But for me, he’s in the metaphorical attic gathering dust. A faint recollection of how much I’ve grown as an individual. How much I’ve come to play into the belief that I am a strong independent and confident young woman, who really doesn’t need a man. 4 days out from 19, and I’ve got my life working out for me. I’m at a place where I don’t need anyone else. I’m busy and committed to vying for success and happiness from every possible angle. I do want a relationship and a future with someone, but I’m no one’s second choice. I’m no one’s backup plan. And I sure as hell am no one’s bitch.