Always Crushing, Never In Love

girl standing in front of a jurassic park sign
Samuel Lopez

A crush is a weird thing to have in your 20s. I recall all the crushes I had back in my beloved elementary school days. I was 7 and thought love was sharing your snack at recess or letting them skip in front of you in line. It was a daring adventure or nothing at all. This idea of love was fun and exciting, and in my opinion, a lot easier, but naïve, more than anything.

Is it just me, or is having a crush in your early adult years just sound juvenile and silly? Having a crush in the modern world almost feels hopeless. Especially as I scroll through my Facebook timeline and Insta feed. “Sarah is engaged”, “John got married”, “Becky is in love”. Thanks for the reminder that I will forever be alone. I can’t help but wonder, what am I doing wrong?

But here I am, 24 years old, still just crushing. Still walking around with my heart on my sleeve, believing that it gets better and that love will find you, love will find me.

I’m slowly coming to accept that maybe all I’ll ever be worth is a crush. Sometimes, I don’t even get that lucky. A five-letter word that I’m starting to hate. A word that simply makes me cringe. A crush, something we never have to do anything about. Something we rarely ever do anything about. We usually keep it to ourselves, until it’s too late anyways. We make our crushes our little secrets.

Regardless, it’s all just temporary. It’s just a fleeting feeling.

I thought about telling my crush, “Hey, I have a crush on you.” Is that too blunt? Are you allowed to do that these days? That sounded so much better in my head. I wanted some sort of clever proclamation.

If I ever wrote a letter to my crush, this is what it would say:

If your eyes found this, which I hope they do, I hope you know it’s you. I’d tell the world your name, but maybe that’d be too much. I guess in a way it’s still being kept a secret. Have I defeated the purpose by writing this?

Anyway, I’ve pondered and pondered what to say. Where to start? How do you tell someone you’re into them without making it weird or messy, without knowing their status or current relationship situation? We somehow always avoided that topic. We never asked about relationships or the status of each other’s hearts. Part of me already knew. Part of me wasn’t sure. I just made assumptions and wondered all on my own.

Honestly, I don’t think there is a best way or a better way to tell someone you like them. I could have made you a playlist, spelling out my confession with song titles, shown up at your door, or sent you a late-night text spilling out my feels. Regardless of all those great ideas, I don’t think there is a route one can take to avoid the awkward or to anticipate what comes next. I think it’s just a risk you must make.  Like a band-aid, sometimes you just have to rip it off, or find those 20 seconds of courage.

If I didn’t say what I’m about to say, I’ll always wish I had. Even though once I say them, I can’t take them back. I don’t think I can wait until years down the road when we cross paths, like star crossed lovers and I regret not telling you. Although these words may change nothing or they may change everything, I hope it doesn’t change the friend you’ve become to me & the great person that you are. But if there was even the tiniest ounce of hope that we could be something more, that you too had some things you wanted to say, but didn’t, I’ll be glad I wrote this.

I do admit, I wish all the signs would’ve been clearer. That way I wouldn’t be wondering what side I was playing. I wouldn’t be wondering if this was a game, if I was just someone you came to when you were lonely and needed attention. Did I serve a purpose? Was I truly needed or was I just a placeholder? Did we have some sort of connection? Or did I read all the signs wrong? Was this just a place to flirt and then carry on with our real lives aside from one another?

What were we supposed to be? How was I supposed to feel? Was it not obvious that I was into you? Was it not obvious that I had a kindergarten crush on you? Was it not obvious that I liked you? Because you kept coming back. You kept showing up for more. You kept reaching out to me in the dark. Giving me just enough bait to hook me on. You kept keeping me around. We tried to keep each other within arm’s reach. We didn’t want long gone, we wanted close by, just in case things changed. What were we waiting for? What was your intentions here?

Part of me wishes we’d met sooner. We should have talked earlier. Our paths should have crossed at a time before this. Things could have been different. We could’ve been different.

I feel that part of you is off limits. No matter how much I try, you are unobtainable. You’re unavailable and I despise that, because I still answer. I’m still waiting and thinking that I have a chance. Talking to you sometimes, is better than not talking to you at all. Having you appear on occasion, is better than never at all. I still respond to your messages. I still read into your flirtatious remarks. I’m still eager that you’ll see in me, what I see in you. I still see your name and feel my heart flutter.

Possibly someone else has stolen your heart. If so, my mission here is done. Forgive me for being the martyr. I will give you up. I will leave you be. I will let you go. I’ll sleep at night knowing this was a one-way street. One I had to travel alone. That this really was a facade. I really played the fool. Love truly is nothing less of a game. But at least I tried. At least I spoke words of truth. They no longer live inside of me. They have no more power over my name.

However, I wish this wasn’t the case.

Somewhere between the casual conversations and increased interactions, I fell for you. I had a big, embarrassingly giant, crush. Oh, lucky you. Except I’d never tell you. Despite all the hundreds of hints I dropped, thinking you’d get the clue. Maybe you were oblivious or simply uninterested.

I still saw something in you that I felt I must have. I felt something with you that felt familiar, but faint. You, I was drawn to you, like the sea is drawn to the shore. Constantly coming back for more. Maybe it was the idea of you. Maybe it was the fact that for the first time in a long time, someone else was there. You just happened to be there. You just happened to be the one close by. For the time being you filled that gap, that hole, that empty space. You filled that piece inside of me that was longing for more. You filled it with your company.

Maybe I was wrong. Wrong for falling for you, wrong for liking you.

I fell for the what if. I fell for your smile and gentle demeanor. Maybe I’m the fool, for thinking there was something more beneath the surface. Maybe I was the fool for thinking you felt something too. Maybe this was the beginning of the end for us.

I wish I’d told you sooner. I wish I had the nerve to send you a text. I wish I had the nerve to complicate our friendship, to make things messy. I wish I had the nerve to tell you that your sweet nothings, meant so much more. I wish I had the nerve to say all this and then some. But I don’t.

However, I hope this finds you. I hope you know who you are. I hope you read this and think of me. It has been awhile, I kinda do miss you. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

I believe in words & endless cups of coffee.

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