I’ve never been very good at fancying people.
The awkwardness of really wanting your crush to know that you like them so you can actually be together, while at the same time being absolutely terrified of them finding out, is a struggle. And although I’ve always considered myself a total pro at advising my friends on this sort of thing, I’ve always been pretty bad at dealing with my own heartache.
The guy I fell hardest for took up a good year and a half of my secondary school existence, which, as we all know, feels like about five gazillion years when you’re 13 and convinced you’re in love.
Don’t get me wrong, I did my best to live the rom-com cliché. I doodled our names in big fat hearts on the inside cover of my maths book. I found out his star sign and searched a bunch of astrology websites until I found one that said we were compatible.
Once he hugged me for a really long time at a party and then held my hand for a bit, which was pretty huge. I happened to be wearing brand new knickers that day and came to the conclusion that from that moment on, those very knickers would be known as my magical lucky knickers and that I’d obviously have to wear them on any occasion that could result in further one-on-one time with the crush boy.
(FYI – the effort of doing that much washing for the sake of a potential snog really isn’t worth the daily questioning you’ll definitely get from whoever presides over the household laundry basket.)
I had butterflies and googly eyes whenever he was within a 100-metre radius and I even bought an album by his favourite band and pretended to like their music so we’d have more to talk about. You know, if ever I managed to form actual sentences in his presence rather than the standard uncomfortable smile and really enthusiastic nod, that is.
Now, you’re probably thinking one of two things: ‘you’re really tragic and you weren’t lying about not being good at fancying people’ or ‘OMG, you have literally described my life’.
This crush business is a minefield, you guys. On top of all that, of course, there’s the stress of not knowing whether or not they fancy you back.
Unfortunately, even after all of my best efforts, it turned out that he did not fancy me back. And no, it wasn’t because he found out about the weird magic pants situation. It was because he fancied one of my best mates. Awks.
I noticed that he started to hang around with my group of friends more and naturally I assumed it was because I was an exceptionally good hand-holder. But then one day he got his friend to ask me if my BFF was interested in him.
A word of advice on how to handle this sort of situation: do not, I repeat, do NOT pretend to fancy your crush’s friend.
Somewhere between feeling really rubbish about crush boy not liking me and having to pretend to be happy for my best mate, I made the awful decision to then try and prove that I was completely fine with it all. I pretended that in fact I never liked him anyway, thanks, and actually it was his friend I fancied all along.
Word of my false love interest got around pretty quickly, which in the end resulted in two broken hearts and a whole lot of resentment towards our respective best mates who then started going out with each other.
I’d love to say that after that disaster, I was suddenly completely over Crush Boy and powered through the rest of school without so much of a fluttery heartbeat. I’d love to say that… but it’s never that easy, is it?
What I did learn over the years though, is that the process of having a crush isn’t always bad news.
Sure, it’s mega cringeworthy at times and you might go through periods when it feels like there is not a single human on earth who could possibly be as beautifully perfect as whoever it is you happen to be into – but once you come out the other side still standing, you realise that even though crushes are hard work, they’re also pretty great. Fancying people is quite exciting. And whether it works out or not, at the very least they make for really good group WhatsApp chats with your mates.
Just think twice before committing to the same pair of pants forever. Apparently it doesn’t work very well…
Image: Manjit Thapp