I wasn’t that interested in her. I wasn’t that attracted to her. But she asked me out and it felt good to be wanted, so I said yes. I settled.There was another girl that I really liked. I remember sitting next to her on the first day of school and feeling nervous because she was so pretty. I was lucky that the first thing we were asked to do was to talk to the person next to us, otherwise I don’t know if I ever would’ve talked to her.
I daydreamed about being with her, and being able to hug her, and being able to kiss her, but I never did anything about it. Well, I guess I hinted. And I hear girls like guys that only hint and are never direct, so I’m not sure why she didn’t respond appropriately to that. Weird.
I hinted because I was worried that she’d reject me. I was sure she would. Of course she would. She could have any guy in our year. Why would she have chosen me?
So, she wasn’t the girl I said yes to.
But she did find out that I’d said yes to the other girl. She found out the same day I’d said yes. And she texted me that evening to tell me that someone else liked me too.
She liked me.
My heart dropped. I shook my head. I was angry.
I thought, “Why didn’t she just tell me?”
I went out with a girl recently and we got on well and I wanted to go out with her again.
She didn’t seem like she wanted to go out with me again. She said she did. But there were all sorts of excuses as to why she couldn’t meet and there was no effort from her in suggesting other times or other places.
It pissed me off. It got me down.
I was pissed off because why was she making excuses?
It got me down because she didn’t seem to want to see me again.
Do you know what I learned from that first example? From settling for a girl I didn’t want? From finding out the girl I wanted actually wanted me?
I went out with the girl I wasn’t that interested in for a few months, and the girl who I really liked went out with someone else. I never got to go out with her.
That happened to me so many times.
It happened some more times at school, it happened at college, it happened at university, it happened at work, it happened outside of work. It was like a routine.
And it hurt every time. It never got any easier. But instead of deciding I’d had enough pain, I kept reliving it.
I laugh and shake my head now when I look back on all these countless moments of pain. But I wasn’t laughing at the time. I was shaking my head and wondering what the f*ck I was doing.
I always thought “this time, it’ll be different.” But it never was. It was always me refusing to tell her how I felt and then watching her lose interest.
I just couldn’t seem to let go of the thought of how much it would hurt to be rejected. To completely and utterly and totally lose my chance at being with her. I’d decided the pain of indecision would be less than the pain of rejection, and I never dared to put that belief to the test.
Do you know what I learned from that second time? From the girl who kept making excuses?
I learned that the pain of indecision is much bigger than the pain of rejection.
I asked her out again and she made excuses. That means she said no.
I could’ve not listened to her. I could’ve chosen to hold onto whatever chance I thought I had with her. I could’ve put even more effort and energy and time in.
But for what? To go out with someone who was making excuses not to go out with me? For her to settle for me?
I did like her and I had wanted to see her again but I decided I’d had enough of not being enough for her.
I let her go.
And it was uncomfortable. And it did hurt. And it wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done.
But it was so much easier than being indecisive and refusing to even ask someone out and then desperately holding onto my chance even when I knew it was gone forever.
The first time I learned nothing, because all I did was blame myself. I never thought about what I could learn from what I was doing. I never thought about doing anything differently. I never accepted that all these girls I liked ended up going out with someone else because I’d chosen to keep my feelings for them to myself. But the second time I learned something because I took responsibility. I asked her out again, and she made excuses, and that’s when I told myself that I can either keep asking her out, or I can let her go. I told myself that I could accept being rejected, or I could hold onto some imaginary chance. I accepted being rejected and learned that after pain comes relief. And that was a relief. That’s the difference between blaming yourself and taking responsibility.
Blaming yourself is when you refuse to learn — taking responsibility is when you choose to learn.
Blaming yourself is when you hold on. Taking responsibility is when you let go.
Blaming yourself is jail.
Matt Hearnden is a writer from the UK. He mostly tells stories only he can tell. He blogs twice a week at www.matthearnden.com just self-published his first book:42. Matt writes every day because he loves it and because it stops him watching Netflix. And, probably more importantly, he plays basketball and has lots of tattoos. You can find him on Twitter, IG & Quora.
Image by Andrei Porfireanu.