The Depth of Everything and Nothing
What is the one thing that everyone wants, but struggles so hard to find? Fame? Recognition? Friendship? Maybe, but not exactly. What we want more than anything else in this world is love.
I am in my third year of college, and I have never been in a relationship. Now, what I want to get across, first and foremost, is that I am not defining my existence by the presence or absence of a significant other. More of what this is, is a requiem for the circumstances I have had to endure. And the failures that followed. And the disappointment. And the questions and overthinking and the doubts. That is what this is.
High school isn’t really even worth mentioning, but I never had a boyfriend then at all. They preferred and chose somebody else. College is where fate seemed to play with my heart, as well as with my mind. I met a guy at a college orientation the summer before I started college classes. I would see him a lot and I developed feelings for him. We both played the flute, had a love of Harry Potter, loved French, and I liked him until during the middle of Homecoming week in October, after three or so months of having serious feelings for this guy, I found out that he was gay. I was devastated, and the friends I had just made took me out and got me ice cream.
The next semester, at my church, there was a guy who was literally the male version of me, but an even better person. He loved film, theatre, he could sing, and he was very religious. And before I knew it, I really liked him. But of course, he was very religious, so much so that he was studying to be a priest. So twice, fate crushed my hopes.
During the summer of my freshman year, going into my sophomore year, I was cast as the lead in the summer show. There was a guy in the show with whom I had great chemistry, and he was the romantic interest, of sorts, to my character. I assumed that he was single, and I began to develop feelings for him. Then, I found out that he was moving, and after I told him how I felt, he said that he was seeing someone. That would have been nice to know, because he was a huge flirt, and secondly, he would not have been good for me as a partner. Our values and morals were practically polar opposites.
Then, I didn’t like anyone for nearly a year. I was just me. Living as myself with my friends.
Then the summer between my sophomore and junior year was a difficult one. My best friend came back after three years, which was great, but a lot of things changed in other areas of my life. Eye-opening realizations that caused me to look reality in the face and truly decide what and who was important to me and the things that I needed to do for my own future. I felt very alone. I wasn’t sure what to do or who to go to or even where to start. At the prompting of my best friend, I messaged a great friend of mine I met during my freshman year and hadn’t talked to in a while. I said, “Hello! Is this still the number of Sam Henderson (pseudonym)? It is Shalonda Mabee (pseudonym).” He replied, “Yeah! Haha, what’s up?” and I said in response, “Haha, okay good! I wanted to check to see if this was still your number because recently, it has been a very busy time of difficult change this summer, and I was thinking back to my freshman year. I want to thank you for being a great friend to me then. Haha, and for teaching me how to swing dance! I’ve just been going through a lot and I wanted to thank and reconnect with those friends who truly helped me during the past two years, particularly that first year. Thank you very much for your friendship.” And to my joy, he responded back, “Haha no worries! If you ever need someone to talk to I try to make myself available to friends! We should definitely hang out more this year before I head to France!”
That was two months and three days ago.
Since, then, a lot has happened. But before I fill you in on that story, I want to highlight a bit of the friendship that Sam and I had since freshman year. I remember actually meeting him at a Leadership Institute orientation. He asked if he could take a selfie with me, and I had never really taken a selfie before! Later, when I found out that the guy I liked was gay, he was there to be a support to me. Also during my freshman year, I was in cast in the fall theatre production, and I was staying in town, but I didn’t have a car at that point, so I was going to stay with a friend. Well, that friend fell through, and I didn’t have anywhere to go. Sam lived in the LLC, and I asked him if he knew of somewhere I could stay. He said I could stay out in the lobby on the couches on the floor that he lived on. He put his Netflix on the TV and showed me this really cool show, but I ended up falling asleep on the couch. I remember using my jacket as a pillow. But sometime in the night, I felt someone put a blanket over me. And then, when I woke up that next morning, I saw him asleep on the floor by the couch where I slept, with only a couch cushion as a pillow and no blanket. He gave me his blanket for that night.
Since that point, we have stopped to catch up with each other when we have the opportunity between our busy schedules. There was a point that I liked him for a bit my freshman year, but I also knew that he wanted to wait to have a girlfriend until after he got accustomed to college life. We both had (and have) similar values and morals, we both did theatre in high school, and we both love the French language. That is actually his major. I would minor in French if I had the time!
But a lot happened for the both of us this past year. He and I both went through some very difficult trials, and we both came out very changed from them. Mind altering situations that could have gone very badly awry.
During the past two months, I have interacted with him and had amazing conversations with him. I can trust him, unquestioningly. He came and taught our swing dancing workshops, and I was the one he chose to teach the class with because we had danced together before.
But one thing that is crippling for me is anxiety that has built up because of all of my past failed attempts at relationships. Nothing has ever worked out for me. Give me philosophy and quantum mechanics and I am comfortable. Give me social situations, and I am completely and utterly lost and doubtful of everything.
Well, it all culminated two days ago. September 28th. I told him how I felt.
I was very tongue tied. I was terrified of what he was going to say. But I got fed up with myself, and just blurted out, “I like you.” And I went into the explanations about how I am very understanding of the busyness of both of our schedules and that I am more than willing to work to make this relationship happen if he was open and also wanted to pursue something. But no matter what, for better or for worse for myself, I wanted nothing between us to be lost. I didn’t want to lose my friendship with him. And I didn’t, and for that I am far more grateful than I have the words to say. In fact, he took it much more maturely and gentlemanly than any other guy I’ve expressed my feelings for. But it still didn’t go the way I had hoped. Again. Yet again.
He said that he was very flattered by what I had said. But that he saw me as the sister he never really got to have. And while that is an incredibly high regard to be recognized by him, it still was very disappointing and crushing for me. It still is and it might be a while before I fully recover from it again. Because it hurts. And while I feel better than most times in the past (mostly because of how he handled the situation) I still am not sure where I should go from here.
Why? Just.. Why? Why do I have to have such terrible luck and disappointment in the only area of my life in which I want to be happy? Sure.. being good at academics and being good at things are both nice, but when you seemingly fail at the most basic of human interactions, what does that say about you? I just wish something would work out for once. I don’t want to be just that nice friendly girl. I don’t want to solely be the sisterly figure. I don’t want to solely be the friend figure. I don’t want to solely be the person that everyone looks to to lead.
I want to be led for once. I am more often than not a highly logical person, but I have an emotional side that I neglect far more than I should. I really thought that this time, it would’ve worked out. I don’t think people realize the full depth of what this one means to me. It didn’t work out, again. And again and again and again. Most people in my place would have given up on the barest possibility of love ages ago. I feel so empty, and lost, and hopeless. There are moments when I ask myself, “Why do I even try? Why do I bother to keep going at it, again and again, when nothing has ever gone right?” I don’t know. I don’t know what it is about me that makes me so different than everyone else, but I know that there is something. I try and I try and somehow, I never feel like I am good enough. I never feel like I have accomplished anything. And yet, I defy the very thoughts I entertain. After seeing me dance with him, a friend said to me, “You looked happy.” And I was. I truly was. Twice has that been said to me: when my best friend moved back after three years, and when I danced with him. What am I living? What describes me as I live each day? Am I happy? Or not? What is it? What is happiness and what does it even mean for me?
But, I have to live knowing that I never be his. People say that time can change things, but I am not betting on it. False hope is the worst thing you can do to somebody. It breaks them. Almost irreparably. But people don’t see any of this in me. The beauty of the day cannot hide the despair of the night. Somehow people look to me as the strong one.
I’m not. I promise you, I’m not. Nobody sees the anxiousness that permeates my most fearful moments. Nobody sees the struggles I have, even in my classwork. I’m lost. So very lost, and this failure exacerbates it even more. On my drive home, I think. This incessant stream of thoughts beleaguers my mind and all of the pent up emotions of the day threaten to consume my more sensible self.
I had so much hope in this one, and now I have nothing. I hope and pray that someday, something will go my way. Because right now, it really sucks. The depth of everything I experience is affected by the effect of the nothings I have experienced. And this is my relationship history. This is what I live with the knowledge of. And I manage to do everything I do in spite of the heartbreak I feel. Perhaps that is the aspect of me I neglect. The fact that I won’t ever let anything or anyone defeat me, even if I feel like I cannot continue forward. I will still keep fighting, but to fight is to experience, and to experience is to feel. And to feel is to be able to be open to love.