Lessons Learned: A Little More Personal

If there’s one thing I’ve learned during my 19, going on 20, years of life on this beloved planet, it’s that there are some lessons that only your mistakes can teach you.

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Since I was young girl, I craved affection from the opposite sex. It might have been because of my daddy issues, or it might have just been that I liked boys, or it might have been a little bit of both. Either way, I had crushes and I was also very upfront about it, and that came with a lot of rejection. During my awkward middle school stage I was even more blunt in revealing my crushes, which was kind of ironic considering how I didn’t exactly have a supermodel face at the time, thanks to my out-of-style glasses and brace face. This, of course, brought along more heartbreak and rejection, which resulted in a girl with little self-confidence and a lot of confusion.

In high school, during my sophomore year, I had my first “real” boyfriend who was very sweet to me and actually younger than me, so I think the idea of dating an older girl had to do with his infatuation with me. I honestly wasn’t very nice to him, but I think that’s because I didn’t understand relationships and I was pretty fed up with boys at that point since they always seemed to leave me lonely. All of my relationships and flings after that went much better on my part, because I learned lesson number 1: treat your significant other the way that you want to be treated.

After sophomore year I didn’t really bother with boys and they didn’t really bother with me until my depression hit and puberty ended. I still had low self-esteem and I didn’t understand how to create a sense of self worth when nobody was telling me that I was good for anything. I got into a bad crowd and I created a fallacy in my head that if I wanted boys to like me, I had to do what they wanted. Since I wasn’t having sex, I didn’t see how damaging this could be to my dignity. It made things worse, and I was stuck in a rut that would take a lot of time and realization to get myself out of it.

Then came “James,” the man that won my heart over for the very first time.  It was senior year, a time where stress was at an ultimate high and I was trying to figure out exactly who I was. James was a breath of fresh air on my troubling odyssey, and for a while I thought he’d be The One. Then came along another important lesson in my life: high school relationships don’t last. I knew a lot of “we’re getting married” couples in high school, including my own, and out of all of them, one has actually lasted to the point of engagement. I realized that teenage and young adult years are for experience and learning. I wasn’t going to get the easy way out and find the love of my life without having to go through the sleepless nights and the tear stained pillowcases. That’s something that everyone needs to experience. It makes you stronger; it builds you up to where you can handle the cruel world and go into it wearing a little armor.

After James, I took a few (okay, more than a few) steps back and the depression hit again. It was much worse this time. I was so desperate for that feeling of love and like I was worth something, that I stole the guy that my best friend loved. He was a player very familiar with the game of breaking hearts, and he made us both hate each other. He made me think she was someone she was not, and he turned me into someone I was not. That was another big lesson, finding out that friends are always more important than love interests. We’ve made up since then, she understands and has forgiven me, and we’re back to how it used to be. But I’ll always be the friend that kicked her down when I should have been the one picking her back up.

After that, there were a few flings, nothing serious. I was still trying to figure out how to pick myself back up since James broke my heart. I turned down a dark road like I had before, but it didn’t take me long to remember all of the damage that it would bring. After countless times of getting feelings for someone who would only end up using me, I realized that men are simple-minded; they go through two stages in life: wanting sex, and wanting sex and love. If a potential is still in the first phase, don’t waste your time waiting for him to cross over into the second.

A one-night stand would never be able to fill the hole in my heart. Only I could do that, and so I took time away from others and focused on myself. That’s when I was able to be at peace, because you can’t be happy with someone else until you are happy with just yourself.

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