You, me, and your crush walk into a bar. I leave. What happens? This isn’t a joke. It’s a nightmare.
At least it would be for me, depending on the crush, and the stage of my life.
Crushes can be embarrassingly debilitating.
One of the most gangster friends I’ve ever had in my life was this guy I met in rehab, Sean. He was a heroin addict, and he’d definitely done some pretty heinous crimes, like kidnapping for ransom, strongarm robbery, and probably murder.
And he was hilarious; he was bald, and wore baggy clothes with chunky rectangular sunglasses, even at night.
The way he bonded with people was by making fun of them. He’d do it in a way that was so funny, you ended up laughing at yourself with him.
But he turned into a complete wimp when his crush was at the same event as us, or in the same room.
Alexandria: the girl from east side Pico Rivera (an apparently forbidden fruit based on where he was from, and I never was able to understand all the street politics he tried to teach me).
We talked about it one night. He was embarrassed that someone affected him like that. It made him feel weak. Like “a little bitch.”
It’s normal, I told him. It means you’re human. Sean spent so much time on the street putting up the rock-hard front, that the slightest vulnerability like a simple crush pushed him over the edge.
Most of the time the discomfort we feel when we have a big crush is due to a lack of control. We’re reminded how easily our emotions can get the best of us.
I’ve done a lot of work in the self-esteem department over the years. I was shy and chubby not too long ago, but now I’m fit and slightly above average on the confidence scale. It’s been great, but a couple of weeks ago I ran into a girl I’ve had a crush on for ten years at a baby shower. It completely paralyzed me. Everything I worked for came crashing down.
After some digging (I mean, this slight interaction ruined me for the rest of the day — I could not stop thinking about how I acted), I uncovered the truth: she triggered the part of me that felt I was undeserving of her in the first place. She brought up the old, self-conscious part of me who didn’t even see her as a person, just a mirror for my own insecurities.
I wish I could’ve told Sean.
He would have laughed at how when she was passing out the cake, she came up to me and said, “Are you gonna be okay if I hand you a piece?”
Unfortunately, Sean is back on the streets.
He’s been strung out again for years now. If he convinced himself he was weak because of a schoolboy crush, I can only imagine what other, more powerful emotions could do to him.
I hope one day Sean gets to experience letting his walls down and being vulnerable with someone who loves him.
And every time I let my mind convince me that I’m weak for feeling natural human emotion, I’ll think of him, and remind myself how lucky I am to feel this way.