In high school, I usually had crushes on the smartest boys, but in my OAC year, I had a crush on one of the average guys. Everyone knew, too, not because it was obvious but rather because I had a big mouth. I wouldn't have admitted it then, but I told people because I figured that if word got around that I was interested that he'd be confident enough to make the first move.
Anyway, one day after school, he was in the gym playing soccer. I think it was tryouts, but it could have just been a pickup game. I was with a bunch of our friends outside of the gym doors peeking in and watching the game. After much coaxing and teasing, my friends convinced me to go and talk to him when he was benched. So, I took a deep breath, and walked into the gym.
My heart raced as I walked along the side of the gym towards him. He was at the opposite end. My palms got all sweaty. The yells and screams of the teams on the floor and their audience grew increasingly muffled behind the loud, clear sound of the beating of my heart. I tried to play it cool by casually averting my eyes from his gaze until I got closer, walking at a steady pace that was neither awkwardly fast nor peculiarly slow. And when the perfect moment came for me to raise my head (that is, when I was close enough to say 'hi' without having to scream it), I looked up, made eye contact with him, and smiled. I raised my right arm to wave, opened my mouth, and BAM! The soccer ball whacked me on the left side of my head. One of my friends, who was playing, accidentally kicked it right at me.
What I should have done was not move, and perhaps nurse my head. What I actually did was awkwardly run right through to the other exit at the opposite end of the gym in utter embarrassment - an exit, I might add, which was just past him. Eye-contact was broken. Opportunity lost. Confidence shattered. My friends and the teams, all came running after me to see if I was okay, and they remarked on how odd it was for me to run away, but no one seemed to pick up on my actual purpose: going and talking to the guy.
I never did try again. He and I remained friends for the rest of our high school careers, and all of it is of little consequence.
Months after the incident, on our graduation night, after the ceremony when everyone congregated in the courtyard for hors d'oeuvres, pictures, and good-byes, when he and I were saying our 'good-bye' to each other, he said something to me that has stuck with me ever since, "I don't worry about you." He went on to talk about how I'd be fine, and that he never wondered or worried that I'd go on to do 'great things', and how I'm "just that kind of person".
This comes to mind now because these are words that I have heard many times since. They are words that have been spoken to me by so many different people recently. They are words spoken to me all too often. When I'm down, they feel insulting. When I feel better, I see it for what it truly is: a nice compliment.
I don't worry about you.
Thank you, everyone. I guess I don't worry, either.