A Heart at Play

by Em about a year ago in dating

Rejection shouldn't scare us, it should make us stronger.

A Heart at Play

I saw him sitting across from me, sitting alone like always. He was laughing and looking down at his phone, tapping his foot along to the beat of whichever song he was listening to that day. I always made sure to get to school really early, for some reason I always thought, maybe today he'll sit with me. That never happened.

I was 17 years old, I've had crushes before, but this one felt different. He was tall, funny, creative, and we liked the same music. I loved his style and his ability to make people laugh and smile. His smile gave me butterflies and hearing his voice made me so nervous. We didn't talk to each other much, but I always made an effort to talk to him. I was shy but I somehow gained the courage to compliment him whenever he walked past me in the hallways, but he never seemed amused. For some reason, I thought this crush would be different, maybe he likes me too. All my friends knew I liked him and they always teased me about it. Months went by and my feelings for him remained, but he never noticed me the way I noticed him. Graduation was approaching and I decided to add him on social media. I uploaded a profile picture so he would know it was me and sent a request to follow him, three days later, he accepted and added me back. A week went by and all week I had been preparing a message to send him:

"Hi! So you might find this weird, but we're about to graduate and I didn't want to leave high school with any regrets. I think you're really cute and you seem like a really cool guy and maybe we can hang out sometime and get to know each other better."

On Friday, the last bell of the day rang and I walked outside the school with my best friend. I was so nervous but I took a deep breath and hit send. My best friend and I freaked out and eventually, I went home. I was so anxious the entire day and I stayed off my phone. Hours later, I checked the app and saw that he read the message but didn't reply. I put my phone away and distracted myself to keep myself from feeling too anxious. Before bed, I checked the app again and saw I had one message. I clicked on it and read it.

"Hey thanks for the compliment but Iactually like someone else. We can still talk though."

My heart felt like it sank deep through my chest, he was the first crush I ever gained the courage to take a chance on, and it didn't work out the way I hoped. I understood his feelings and decided to still talk to him through social media over the weekend. I was very open and excited to get to know him, but he would respond in short length messages and sometimes he read my message and wouldn't respond to me until days later. At school, I stopped making an effort to go extra early and I stopped sitting at my usual table. Instead, I would walk into the building and wait for class to begin. One day, a girl started sitting with him, she had a boyfriend so they were just friends. They would laugh and listen to music together and I would walk to the building alone. I stopped messaging him because I took the hint. He felt bad for me, that's the only reason he agreed to keep talking, but he didn't even try to get to know me. I questioned why he didn't want to get to know me. We had similar taste in music, we had the same sense of humor and type of creativity, I was a good listener, caring, smart, kind, and I felt that I had many good qualities. Maybe I wasn't pretty enough, maybe I wasn't skinny enough, or maybe he just didn't find me interesting. I'll never know why I wasn't the type of girl that appealed to him, but I understand that things in life won't always work out. Just because I liked him didn't mean he was obligated to like me back. I was really sad at first, but now I look back at the situation and I feel relief and I even feel proud of myself.

Rejection hurts, but in a way, it makes us stronger. My self-esteem took a lot of damage when I got rejected, but it allowed me to realize the good characteristics of myself. One day I'll meet a guy that appreciates me for me. I'm still young and still have a lot of time to mature and meet different people. My first rejection took a lot of courage out of me, but I'm glad I took a chance. We never talked to each other again, but I will always appreciate his honesty and this situation for allowing me to change my mindset. I am no longer scared of rejection like before, I'm more courageous now and more understanding of it.

My advice to people reading this is don't be afraid to take a chance. Be prepared for rejection because it will allow you to grow as a person and teach you how to handle it. If you have strong feelings for someone and you want to tell them, do it. It's better to regret doing it than never speaking up and always wondering "what if." Don't allow rejection to tear you down, don't think less of yourself just because someone wasn't able to see what you have to offer. Be courageous. Be confident. Be you.

Read next: 'Chocolate Kisses'

See all posts by Em