I grew up shy. Like, the kind of shy that made me stay home “sick” on presentation days. The kind of shy that made my long hair come in handy when I wanted to shield my acne from close onlookers. And of course, the kind of shy that gave me the dreadful color-changing abilities of a chameleon. No joke–when I was in high school, there was a particular teacher who thought it was hilarious to see how brilliantly red I turned as more and more students looked my way. As you can imagine, that class was a real treat.
But there was another reason I dreaded my freshman science class more than, say, the unpleasant gym class. That reason sat at the same table with me. And his name was Adam.
The story goes a bit like this: I had liked Adam for a couple years, but I was too shy to talk to him until he and my best friend started “going out.” Soon enough he became a familiar presence. I learned it was possible to interact with the opposite sex. Even ones as cute . . . and smart . . . and cool as Adam. Eventually I learned how to be myself around him. A big deal, considering I couldn’t be myself around most people.
But as teen whirlwinds often happen, Adam and my friend broke up. The one boy I now considered a friend no longer was around. I missed our easy talks. The way he shook his head at me when I was embarrassingly nerdy. I missed him. And I wondered . . . would I ever get to hang out with him again?
It turned out–yes. I would. Because somehow, someway, the one boy I considered a friend became more . . .
He became my sweetheart.
Oh, it was stellar, as middle school romances go. We talked on the phone every night. We would walk to classes together. I even bought him one of those jumbo sized cards and wrote “I love you,” in French. In return, Adam handed me a shoebox full of tulips (hand-picked, naturally) and a note proclaiming, “Although these flowers may wither and die, my love for you never will.” And when another boy was making fun of my acne, Adam put his arm around me and boldly told him to leave me alone.
Adam was, without a doubt, my knight-in-shining-armor. [insert sigh here]
But most knights leave town sooner or later. Especially when you’re 14 going on 15 and the summer between middle school and high school begins. So after 5-ish months of dating, Adam had one of his best friends dump me over the phone. Even better: a day or two before he began dating one of my friends. I was devestated. And then very angry. Perhaps Adam wasn’t the boy of my dreams. Inevitably I did what many a teenage girl has done. I wrote my lovely ex a letter. I believe it was a respectable lady-like letter, but it was a letter, just the same.
So, yeah. It was a bit awkward a few months later. Sitting there. Near him. While my teacher built a fun rapport with his (other) students. I began to retreat inside myself during that hour and a half–hoping the clock’s hands would magically speed up. But that didn’t seem to help things either. All too soon, I was teased by my fellow peers for being “out of it.” Well, I was. I can be. That’s what shy and creative introverts do when they’re overwhelmed or uncomfortable or bored. . . they retreat. They can become flighty.
Ok? So how does this get better? It doesn’t really. Not until that awful class ended.
Then life moved on. Classes changed. I didn’t have to see or speak to Adam unless I wanted to (which I didn’t). I became a “bit” less shy. This became useful. I began to learn how to talk to other boys besides Adam. Yes, I’d definitely say that was useful. Another boyfriend happened. Perhaps two or three? It’s hard to pin some of those relationships down. I had definitely grown into a little more confidence. The past (and Adam) was so long ago that by senior year, I had forgiven him. In fact, we were even friends again.
Hmm . . . but can girls and guys ever “just be friends?”
I found out–no. At least, not with Adam and me.