I am not a love expert. I still believe in cooties and think that boyfriends can be picked up at the local Boyfriends R Us. I have no idea how to actually get one. Like, how is a guy supposed to know if I like him? How am I supposed to let him know without taking away my right to be pursued and his duty to pursue? How am I supposed to know how he feels about me and if it is even worth waiting for him to pursue me? Also, once I get a boyfriend, what do I even do with that? How often does he need to be fed? Am I expected to hang out with him? Would he be mad if I told him his dog is cuter than him? Am I supposed to tell him he’s cute? Seriously, I have no idea. Yet, for some strange, inexplicable reason, a lot of my friends come to me for advice on guys. And here’s the thing- I make it all up. I have no idea what I am talking about, which is true for most things anyway. But, they are allowing me to play with their feelings. To put their emotions to the test and advise them on how to handle their heart. Why? I honestly have no idea. They should feel as safe with me handling their heart and they should with me flying a plane.
You see, I have liked a total of three guys in my life- two of whom shouldn’t even count because I was under the age of 12. And the other one of whom should probably also not count because it started when I was 12, and I’m pretty sure I gave him more reasons than not to think I’m stupid. And I spent so long denying it that I’m not actually completely sure when it started. So, I’m definitely not the person they should be asking. Because I am nothing close to an expert. But, I am an expert on my own experience with love. So, I can tell you that it has been a crushing experience.
My first crush was a boy I met in kindergarten. We were friends, in the sense that everyone in our small class of 15 were friends, even though I claimed I hated him. And I assured my parents that I actually hated him, and I convinced myself that he hated me. But, they assured me that girls don’t talk so much about guys they hate. And, despite all the attempted convincing to the contrary, I did like him. As much as a 5-year old girl can like a boy. But I locked my heart as best I knew how. And I had feelings for him throughout most of elementary school. Until one day, in fifth grade, he asked me out. And I, still trying to convince myself I hated him, rejected him in the most graceful way an 11- year old socially awkward kid can. And he said it was okay, because it was a joke and his friends just dared him to ask me out. He didn’t actually mean it. And boy, that hurt a little. He broke my little fifth grade heart because I had guarded it so hard and convinced myself I didn’t want him to have it. And once he had a chance at having it, I crushed it.
My second crush happened the next year, in sixth grade. And, while I still wasn’t sure if I had completely gotten over my elementary school crush, I had begun to fall for him. As much as an 11-year old can fall for a guy she just met. I thought he was cute. In fact, I thought he looked like a teddy bear. And I thought that the two of us may have an actual chance. If we could just hold on for a few years. And, because I have never been good at hiding my crush from those I am close to, everyone knew. And they thought that maybe he liked me too. And, maybe he did. I don’t know. But, I know it eventually ended. For whatever reason. Probably because my feelings and hormones were so fleeting and fluctuating. Or maybe because I stopped seeing him often. Or maybe because my third crush came in and crushed my 12- year old dream.
My third, and last, crush started from the day I met him. But, I didn’t really know what it was at first. Because it felt more like a strange obsession, a desire to be around him. And my feelings for him began while my feelings for the others were still fading, but these were different. I didn’t recognize the recognizable feeling at first. Eventually, I began to, but I hoped denying them would make them go away, because I never thought we’d stand a chance. That he’d never pick me. But, eventually, young 15-year old me came to terms with my feelings. I no longer denied them, at least not to myself. And, I was still terrible at hiding my crush, so, people eventually found out, mostly because 16-year old me could no longer hold it in. But, some people began rooting for us. And I was terrified nothing would happen and we’d all be crushed.
I got over my first crush. We became friends, and all is well. But, there was a point, in eighth grade, where I thought he had a girlfriend, or at least I thought she was acting like his girlfriend. And, I was a little crushed. Even though I had gotten over him. Because, somewhere, deep down, a part of me was still holding on to him. A small part of me still belonged to him. Because I had given him something, and I never asked for it back. I never wanted it back. And, he still has it, and always will. Because your first love, no matter how small, ridiculous, or juvenile it is, always keeps a part of you.
I got over my second crush. We stopped seeing each other often, and we haven’t had a real conversation in years. Eventually Facebook told me he got a girlfriend. And, I was a little crushed. Because he too had a small part of me. Because I got over him, but he was still my first hope. The first one I had thought would become something. The moments I had with him are memories I will always have, even if they never became anything. And even if they were over exaggerated in my own mind. Now, they are just recordings of an old tape whose conclusion I will never see. A movie of “what ifs.” And your first hope, like your first love, always keeps a part of you. Except this time, I also got to keep a part of him.
My last crush I have not yet gotten over. And I have no idea if he has come to terms with his feelings, or what his feelings even are. I have kept my guarded 5- year old heart locked, but I have given him the key. I’ve allowed him a way in. I just don’t know if he knows it, or if he wants to ever use it. And if he doesn’t, I’ll eventually get over it, but not without my heart cracking a little. Because changing the lock will leave some scars. And I have kept most of my 12-year old dream. It just now involves a different person. And there are still some parts 12-year old me will always hold that 16-year old me will never share. And 18-year old me will always have these beautiful feelings that maybe a future me won’t have. Because, even though he is not my first crush, or my first love, or my first hope, he is my first joy. He’s the first one who makes my heart flutter when I see his name light up my phone screen, or gives my stomach butterflies when I see his smile. But, he’s also the first one where I feel safe. Where I can genuinely be myself and feel secure. Where I know I’ll be okay, regardless of whether he uses 5-year old me’s key, becomes a part of 12-year old me’s dreams, and proves 16-year old me right, or not. But, he, too, will always be a part of me, because he was my first joy. Except this time, I don’t know how it’s going to end.
And maybe that’s why they are called crushes. Maybe it’s because they can crush your soul. They can hurt you, and crack you into a million tiny pieces, that can eventually be fixed, but will always be a part of you. Or maybe it’s because, like the soda, they can make your heart rush. They can make you bubbly and excited. Maybe it’s because they are like the candy game. Sweet and safe, yet addicting and nerve-wracking. And none of this is necessarily their fault. It’s just the nature of crushes.
So, clearly, I am not a love expert. You should definitely not come to me for love advice. Because, the best I can give you is, when in doubt, use a cheesy pick-up line sprinkled with puns. Make a joke about some science concept, historical figure, literary character, mathematical equation, or otherwise nerdy topic. Or, you could always grab a can of cherry crush, put it on his head and say, “I have a crush on you.” Or, maybe those are not good ideas. I don’t know. All I know is, they’d probably work on me.
But, in all seriousness, the best advice I can give you is this: be patient. Wait on God. Because guys are stupid and crushes are painful. But God crushes all insecurities and pain. And praying to Him about him is the best thing you could do for your fragile heart that’s prone to crushes. And one day, He’ll send someone who was worth all the pain, the waiting, and the crushes.