Valentines Day. Year 8. Eight days before my 13th birthday. After lunch. A maths lesson. The second floor of the South building of Meadowhead School. I was sitting with Daisy, which is of course not her real name.
Let me tell you about Daisy. Daisy was beautiful. She had tresses of Scandi-blonde hair, a figure far beyond her years, and most impressively to me, she actually looked good in the forest-green Meadowhead uniform we all wore, which was a rare skill.
Now, it wasn’t that I wasn’t attracted to Daisy. It was that I found her so attractive I had mentally placed myself out of her league. As far as I was concerned, there was no point in even entertaining the possibility that she’d be into me. And so I found myself just… being myself. No pressure to be anything I wasn’t. And I had a great time getting to know her every time we had Maths.
You see, back then, if I wasn’t thinking about the Chili Peppers, I was thinking about some girl or another. At this point in time it just happened to be Rachel (again, not her real name.) But whoever it was – it shifted a lot – the more I thought about her, the more mixed up I got inside, and the more awkward and uncomfortable I would act whenever she was near. My desperation for the girl to like me was trumped only by my lack of any idea how to make it happen.
It was different with Daisy. Believing I’d never had a chance to begin with, I was incredibly relaxed around her. In fact I was so relaxed that when she turned to me that Valentine’s Day and said
“Hey, Ol, you know since you’re single and I’m single, I was wondering if you wanted to do something for Valentine’s Day?”
… I didn’t skip a beat. I answered “Oh, thanks, but actually I really like Rachel so I’m going to ask her to do something.”
“Oh, okay.” She didn’t seem heartbroken, but she did get quiet.
And then about five minutes later I realised what had just happened.
Daisy, as it turned out, did like me – my friend told me later that day, confirming at length that, yes, I was a complete idiot to say “no.” And shortly after this she started going out with someone else. C’est la vie.
Now, this happened sixteen years ago – almost to the day – but it still stings like it was yesterday. Not in the way you might think, though. It doesn’t sting because I wish I had said yes and gone out with Daisy and ended up married to her and having babies with her. No, I don’t care about that.
What stings is how wrong I was. I wasn’t out of her league at all – I was just so convinced of it that I couldn’t even take her asking me out seriously.
Ever since that day, sixteen years ago, I have tried to remind myself that no matter how convinced I am that something is too good for me, too big for me, or too difficult for me, I was very wrong once and I’m just as likely to be wrong this time too.
Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t pre-reject yourself. Don’t let your doubts and fears and insecurities win by stopping you from even taking part.
You have no idea what’s actually possible for you. So go for what you really want. Not because you’ll definitely get it if you want it enough or if you try hard enough. No. I don’t believe that. There are no guarantees.
Except that if you talk yourself out of even trying, then you lose by default. Go for what you want because it might happen.
Give reality the chance to say “no.” Because you never know when it’s going to say “yes.”