Perhaps it was my deep animalistic urge for companionship, the extrovert in me who wanted to be everybody’s everyone or just too much Disney as a kid, all I know is that for as long as I can remember I’ve thought the ultimate goal in life is to meet “the one,” that her wedding is the most important day in a girl’s life and that every chance encounter with a particular stud of a male must be fate.
I thought this throughout high school, sobbing myself to sleep whenever one of my friends got asked out and I didn’t, listening to Taylor Swift and wishing I was one of those girls who boys liked, hating myself for not being perfectly pretty, for being too tall, too loud, too strange.
Any guy who paid me attention immediately got mine, it didn’t matter how old, how dangerous or how much they only liked my butt, they were praised for showing interest in someone as uninteresting as me.
I was stuck in this vicious cycle of needing external validation to feel like I had purpose and then completely losing myself once I realised my feelings weren’t mutual or I wasn’t interesting anymore or the relationships, like always, crumpled.
When I was 15 I used to rush to my locker immediately after school so I could catch the attention of the guy next to mine. Every joke he made, every high-5, comment and wink made in my direction was precious, I found out ways to amuse him, to keep him interested in what I had to say. I learnt that sometimes you can make yourself the best person on the planet to be around and it still won’t make a difference to how people see you, the dorky younger sister with no maturity, no tact, never been kissed.
When I was 18 I learnt that boys pretend. They pretend to like you for you, that you’re funny and sweet and wonderful. Make them soup, tell them secrets, listen to their heartbeats after everyone’s gone to sleep until the day they stop calling, stop responding to your tears, stop telling you how special you are. You’ll give them everything, and they’ll treat you like nothing.
Now I’m 19 and I’ve learnt that Prince Charming has an ugly side. A dark internet history of smashed windscreens and locked doors, of pulling off handles and holding wrists tight enough for them to hurt.
Suddenly I found myself doing it all over again, crying myself to sleep over something some guy had said, what my guy had said, and hating myself for not being what he wanted. Why can’t I be what he loves? Why can’t I do what he wants me to? Why is this so hard?
Suddenly I found paradise and it was the space in my head where he couldn’t get to, the little flame that whispers “I deserve better, I need to start loving myself, I need to get rid of this devil on my back.”
That flame broke the spell. The curse that’s been haunting me my entire life, keeping me in this cage that told me I was only a person if someone else loved me and I was only of value if I was told.
I got tired of being the girl all the boys like, that girl has no identity without someone else, she is a shadow of whoever she’s following at the time; there’s no substance or life- just desperation.
I won’t let anyone pick me up, I won’t allow myself to feel insignificant because the boy by my locker looks at other girls or because his heartbeat won’t ever sync up with mine. I won’t let anyone hold my wrist or try to contain me or mould me or crush me.
I don’t want to be someone’s someone anymore. I don’t want to be anyone’s someone. I want to be mine.
You do not need anyone, do you understand? You can want someone, but you do not need anyone. You are funny and you are smart and you are pretty, and you are still all of those things even if nobody tells you that you are. Do not wait for someone to take your hand and pull you up. Steady yourself and learn how to walk alone. You do not need anyone.