Ahh, middle school — a time that usually brings back an array of feelings ranging from fond to somewhat bleak and …By Bianca Caampued for HowAboutWe
Editor's note: Catch up on Bianca's previous dating adventures here.
Ahh, middle school -- a time that usually brings back an array of feelings ranging from fond to somewhat bleak and embarrassing, many of which often involve a crush. With these memories, I've realized there were so many things that I did so wrong. It's like my middle school self is just looking at me from the past saying "I put myself through this for you so you wouldn't have to go through the same mistakes in your adult life. Please tell me you've learned something. "
If you think of it this way, learning in middle school shouldn't have just been limited to the lessons you learned in those textbooks, but should also include the lessons learned about life and love (as petty and insignificant as they may seem for that time). I decided to really think about the interactions I had with my middle and high school crushes to see what kind of lessons I've learned (or should have learned) to hopefully put into use in my current and future relationships, making my middle school self view my current self with a sense of dignity and pride.
1. Don't be a b*tch -- a lesson in first impressions. Your first meeting with someone you have a crush on can be haunting. Especially when you didn't realize you had a crush on that person until after the meeting and you kick yourself for being a total b*tch because you had NO IDEA you were going to be in love with that person at some point in your life -- or even just two weeks later. The first time I met my middle school crush was when he moved into town and ended up being in my music class. We were in 6th grade. We stood in line, eager to get into that room and learn more about traditional South American music, and he turned to me and said, "You remind me of my really good friend from my last school." I sort of just looked at him with the same apathetic glare/unintentional almost-scowl that has become part of my personal branding today, and said, "so?" That was it. That was it. About two weeks later I realized I totally had a crush on this boy, and after years (or months that felt like years) of me swooning over him, trying to get his attention in any way that I could, I realize that that single moment could've changed things, and essentially could've made my middle school life so much easier. Why did I have to be such a B? I believe he brought that up to me at some point in the next year, after I had long forgotten about our first meeting, causing this light to turn on above my head. Though modern day dating rules suggest that you need to play it cool and be aloof, it is definitely a lesson learned that playing it cool does not equate to being rude. In dating, and in life in general, you never know when someone you meet could essentially become someone important to you. Let that bitchy guard down, and just be a nice person. Your dating life could improve, and the world will definitely a be a better place for it.
2. Have self confidence -- a lesson in learning that yes, you are good enough and he deserves you. This lesson was learned from my 5th grade crush, who technically, I suppose, became my 5th grade boyfriend. He thought I was smart, funny, and cute. I on the other hand didn't know why he would ever think those things. He asked me if I wanted to "go out." I said "sure." That made him my boyfriend, right? He wrote me notes and sent me songs. He complimented my artwork. He was sweet. He called me every day. However, not knowing my self worth at the time meant that I was always questioning what it was that we were. I didn't even fully grasp the fact that he liked me. Me? Really? In my flannel shirt, weird vests, and leotards as outerwear? (My 5th grade self would kill it on the street style blogs of today.) And so, in my air of uncertainty, my 5th grade best friend (who was more confident and aggressive than I) stole him away from me. All she had to do was flaunt her confident sassy self to turn his head, and one day in gym class he came up to me, told me he didn't like me anymore and that they were now "going out." I didn't know what I had done wrong. In hindsight, I realize what I did wrong was never fully accept him as my "5th grade boyfriend." Had I had the confidence in myself to be with him, and accept the fact that yes, we were "dating" whether anyone liked it or not, who knows what could've happened.
3. Do NOT let the boys distract you -- a lesson in focusing (on more important things than your crush) I write this one slightly cringing because I know this is a lesson that I have yet to learn today. My freshman year of high school I was absolutely and completely obsessed with a boy in my English class, let's call him David Beckham. I believe our dynamic was based on the fact that we were both overachievers who were trying to be in the top five of our class. I thought everything that came out of his mouth was brilliant. The back of his head? So good looking.
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I spent most of that class thinking of how I could interact with him, sort of in the same way that Cady Heron did with Aaron Samuels in Mean Girls. And, like Cady Heron in Mean Girls, my obsession consumed my brain so much that no focus went into whatever we were actually supposed to be learning in class. I believe what it ruined was my almost perfect GPA, with a C in a sea of As on that report card. Every now and then I meet a boy that I go absolutely bananas for, and maybe forget any other responsibilities that I have that don't involve that person. When that happens, high school Bianca screams at present day Bianca, saying "DON'T LET DAVID BECKHAM RUIN YOUR GPA AGAIN!!" At the end of the day you'll find that your class (or job or friends) will be what you have left when that boy drifts into the shadows of crushes past. Don't neglect them. This is easier said than done, however, when you're absolutely smitten. But if you're going to be obsessive, at least do so with someone who actually gives you the time of day back. The best answer in this case is really finding a good crush/life balance.
4. Grand gestures don't go unnoticed -- a lesson in getting creative and bein' a little weird This point was actually inspired by a little poem that I wrote my middle school crush in the 7th grade. It was a limerick. Middle school crush happened to have the same first name as some real estate company of sorts, and so, inspired by this, I wrote him a limerick about being a home-builder. I thought my efforts were totally lost, because let's face it -- that is pretty weird. LOST -- until about two years ago when I got a message from said middle school crush saying he found the poem I wrote him in the 7th grade and wanted to catch up sometime if we were ever in the same city. We were not, which is fine, because I'm sure it wasn't romanticals by any means. But 15 years later, my limerick made enough of an impression that middle school crush contacted me out of the blue. Sometimes you gotta wait for it, ya know? Drop off cupcakes to the boy your dating's office if you're in the area. Write them a rap song. Go for that limerick. Shatter gender roles and show up to dinner with flowers. It'll definitely get them to think about you in a different way, and at the very least a little bit more than they would have in the first place. No guarantee that their response won't be to laugh at you or be really embarrassed, but if you're going out on a limb and that person can't appreciate it, they're a dick and you shouldn't want to be with a dick.
5. Don't be a creeper -- a lesson in actually playing it cool. Ok, so don't mistake going for a grand gesture to acting like a creeper. Overtly stalking and extreme obsessive behavior is not cute. I feel lucky enough that in my middle and high school days, I didn't have Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Foursquare to creepily stalk any boy I thought I was in love with. You better believe I would've made my parents drive me to that pizza place the boy I had a crush on just checked into. All I had was AIM, and even then I would sit there, patiently waiting for that door open sound in hopes that it would be my crush signing on, jumping at the chance to message them something overly thought out, yet made to sound totally random. Sewing in Home Economics? Oh yeah, of course it would be a great idea to make a pillow with my crush's initials stitched on. Same thing in shop class and the wood burner thingie. How do these translate to today? Obsessive blog posting, commenting, wall writing, @ replying, tweet faving, etc. Constant communication via text? Let's just not send him five messages to every one back please. Showing up at his or her apartment unannounced when you don't have clearance from them to do so. It's a total turn off when someone can feel your suffocating "love" about a mile away. Create an air of mystery! It's true when they say it'll leave them wanting more.
6. You will not DIE if he doesn't like you back -- a lesson in moving on. The biggest take-away from all of this that at the end of the day, when it comes to an ill-fated crush, it's not the end of the world. Summer will come and you will have that time to either ease your pain with retail therapy at the mall or find a fun summer fling at camp. Fall is around the corner, and you never know what new boys will be on the roster. Plus, if you were lucky enough, you will at least have that wonderful memory of slow-skating with him at the rink to K-Ci and Jojo when he felt too bad to say no. biancaBianca is a co-founder of Small Girls PR and lover of cotton candy, whiskey, dancing, rocking out, and boys (not necessarily in that order). Dating is her favorite.