In third grade, I developed a MASSIVE-HEART-EXPLODING-I-LOVE-YOU-SO-MUCH crush on the boy who sat four desks away from me. His name was Jacob and I decided he was my soulmate. We had roughly three conversations, two entirely about Pokémon, but it was enough for me to know. He was the one for me. Mr. and Mrs. (I Don’t Remember His Last Name) forever.
I knew I couldn’t just let this crush fester inside. I had to release it. I had to uncage these fluttery pre-pubescent butterflies of mine.
So I did what any logical nine-year-old would do. I wrote him an anonymous love letter signed, “Your Secret Admirer.”
Unfortunately, word travels fast in the classroom and by recess, Jacob had learned the true identity of his Secret Admirer. I was mortified. Embarrassed and red faced, I pulled another logical move and hid in the classroom as the rest of the kids scattered outside to go eat lunch. And there, crying in the coat room, my teacher found me.
Mrs. Moore, one of the kindest and most motivating teachers I’ve ever had, let me spend lunch with her. I cried and she listened, offering up advice when I wanted it.
“You just love loudly. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. It’s a brave thing to put your heart on the line.”
Something about that talk always stuck with me. Mrs. Moore wasn’t just my teacher in that moment. She was reminding me it’s okay to be me. Not even that it’s okay, it’s a good thing.
I’ve always been open with emotions. And that hasn’t been the type of thing to make me Cool or Chill. I don’t have the upper-hand (whatever that’s even supposed to mean). When I’m in, I’m all in. I hand over my heart on a platter and say, “Dig in. It’s for you.”
Which also means I’ve been hurt frequently. It means I’ve done things others would call embarrassing. I’ve let my passion and love guide me into things that could be perceived as too much. I’ve loved loudly. I’ve put it all on the line. Over and over and over.
I’ll tell people stories and they’ll laugh. Because I’m choosing to be in on the joke, to poke fun at my failures in dating. I make a punchline out of unrequited infatuation. I’ll say, “This is why I’m going to die alone.” But then fall head over heels again.
I keep loving loudly. I keep trying, giving myself and my heart and everything else I have to give.
And I’m not sorry for it. I’m not sorry for being this way, for not holding back. I’m not sorry for wanting to take a chance that could leave me bruised and embarrassed than to not say I tried at all. I’m not sorry for having a loud want and an eager heart.
I’m not sorry for being me.
And one day, someone is going to love just as loudly with me. And we’ll never apologize for putting our hearts on the line, together.