How Relationships Begin: The Awkward Years

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Growing up, I was a nerd. I bit my nails, was insanely tall for my age – taller than the boys, kept my hair wild and curly – hardly ever CUTELY tamed with fly-aways and the standard ponytail. I wore those nasty, itchy sweaters that only made me colder in the winter time and sweatsuit ensembles that showed I had no desire for ten year-old’s fashion. I was picked on by the fourth grade. Between getting my homework snatched right in front of me for other people to copy against my will and having things stolen out of my bookbag, I was the subject of all tormenting. I was the “goody-good” and teacher’s pet who had no real desire in boys because I thought the girls who did were fast and trashy and their mothers had no class. Besides, what was I going to do with a boy at ten years-old?

Moving on to middle and junior high school, I became even more awkward. Somewhat of a tomboy, if you will. I hated purses, girlishness, had mainly guy friends, played kickball in the streets, and I felt like talking about boys was nearly like some forbidden taboo. I did not want anything that would seem too sexual for my age (yes, this was my way of thinking) and result in my mother giving me that terrible talk. Nonetheless, I had celebrity crushes but did not want to publicize them. I still wanted to be a kid without having to worry about the issues of the adult world. I wanted to play with my Barbie dolls for as long as I had an active imagination and read as many books as I could during summer vacations. If I shopped, I shopped for books or video games and made sure that I was the first person in line for the new action-adventure released.

Then, I liked a boy.

It was my first real crush that I tried to act on. I had them before but just admired from across the classroom –  all of that sappy sixth grade shit. Then, moving into junior high, I felt a spark of my femininity coming through. I wrote this boy a note about how I liked him and thought he was cute. His response? He avoided me and told his friends how ugly I was. He liked some other girl instead. Mind you, these were the years when everyone was really starting to explore themselves and their identities. Girls wore excessive makeup at ridiculously young ages, some were already sexually active or exploring the opposite sex to some extent, and here I was. I just wanted to go home and beat another mission on Grand Theft Auto or maybe finish reading Harry Potter, if I hadn’t already.

So, naturally, I thought that I was the uglier half of girls in our class. I came to accept it and almost didn’t care. I thought the other girls were glamorous and pretty and had something that I just didn’t understand or inherit. I was in a confused stage between black and white, and it was almost as if I wasn’t pure enough for either sides’ beauty standards. I was smart and thought that maybe I’d have to rely on my career ambitions to take me through life. That’s what I did. Well into high school I was only concerned with life after the twelfth grade and what I expected to do with myself. Boys were never a priority. This allowed for me to excel in my academics, my dramatic performances, my writing, read more than enough books that some would never get their hands on or ever understand; I even got to beat all of my video games. I sincerely enjoyed my youth and everything that I had the ability to do as a child.

However, this makes me wonder as women if we’ll only succeed in relationships if we are not goal-oriented? I was driven towards my career and personal well-being well before middle school. It caused for me to make better decisions (not all, but a good chunk) and focus on uplifting myself. Of course, this did not give me the time to center in on beauty and making sure that I was cute before walking into the seventh grade – hilarious considering how much I doll myself up now on a day-to-day basis. Yes, I was awkward, but had different priorities that would better prepare me for the future. Do guys have a sixth sense even at a young age? Do they only gravitate towards women without a five-year plan? It seems far-fetched, but thinking back to how I was in middle and junior high school, I was no where near the center of attention as a relationship possibility. Moving forward 15 years, have things really changed? Are my ten year-old’s dreams that intimidating or did they dictate my fate with men? Maybe awkward little girls grow into awkward women despite how much of a name we make for ourselves.

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