So, let’s continue this middle-grade journey, shall we? Of embarrassing moments, silly memories, careless decisions.
And start with boys.
This next memory has to fall into one of my most-embarrassing-moments categories. Ready?
So, up until I graduated high school, my parents had very conservative views on dating. Which I get. And appreciate, now that I’m married. Dating can be awful and awkward and damaging, and because of their wise views, I was spared a lot of hurt. Especially in those vulnerable years no one should be dating. Like junior high.
I’m a people pleaser. I hate confrontation and would rather say yes to something if it means sparing someone else’s feelings. But deep down, when this happens, I’m not happy. Awkwardness and discomfort rear their ugly heads, and I’m left an unhappy camper.
Enter seventh grade dances.
There was a boy in my grade who I found out liked me. He was a very sweet, adorable boy, who I had known since elementary school. We were friends, in the best way a girl and boy could be friends at that age. (He didn’t gross me out. That’s true friendship, isn’t it?) I began hearing rumblings about him asking me to one of the school dances. Heart. Attack. I didn’t do the boy thing well. I was awkward and an introvert. And could barely make contact with my own girl friends at lunch time. The idea of a boy, approaching me? Asking me to a dance? Then dancing with him? Vomit inducing.
Not because I didn’t like him. But because my overly sensitive self could not handle the awkwardness that would no doubt come from such an occasion. The day came when he asked me. And out of my hate of confrontation, I said yes.
Immediately, my insides churned like a Kitchen-aid mixer. On high speed. I told my parents (because I told them everything), and was given an out. I was to tell this boy that I couldn’t go to the dance. And blame it on my parents. He very graciously (and embarrassingly, no doubt) accepted my no. For months after though, we could barely look at each other. Yes, I was relieved of going to the dance out of obligation; but I was sorry I had to hurt someone’s feelings along the way.
Thus began my long, dry no-boys allowed journey of school. Of going stag to dances. Of learning how to befriend boys without crossing any romantic line. And you know what? It made for a carefree, stressless, middle-grade and high school experience. I didn’t know heartbreak. Knowing myself so well, I don’t think I could have handled it.
My parents seemed to know this. (What, knew their kid better than herself?) And helped me understand this. That you don’t always have to say yes to something just to spare someone else’s feelings.
Your feelings, after all, are important too.