My Friends Were Boy-Crazy. I Never Was.


My friends were boy-crazy.


I know the times I would repeatedly recognize this, obsessing over Justin Bieber’s or One Direction’s new song, or squealing about the older boy they would see on the playground. Boy-crazy was the perfect word for it.


But for me, I never had Bieber fever, or an obsession with Harry Styles, or even cared about the older boy on the playground. And yet, I wanted to. I wanted to care about these so-called heartthrobs and the supposedly intriguing and attractive boy on the monkey bars. Why couldn’t I be boy-crazy like everyone else?


The author as a child

In my mind then, I know I didn’t have to be like everyone else. The teachers in elementary school had the same slogan that I’m sure everyone was used to hearing: “Just be yourself.”


The intentions behind this are good, especially when instilled in small children learning to navigate the world beyond their homes. But being yourself isn’t as simple of a concept as it can seem, especially when, at such an age, I didn’t even know what “myself” meant. Was it the fact that I preferred to sit in the classroom and read than go play handball? Was it the fact that I often left class for an hour or two to go to speech therapy in the office? Or was it the fact that I didn’t like the same people that everyone else liked? Being yourself is, as the saying goes, easier said than done.


* * *


My childhood best friend was pretty. Pretty seems to be too small of a word to describe how I felt when I saw her. She had thin but shiny, dirty blonde hair. She herself was thin too, kind of gangly and limbs too long in proportion to her small body. She used to like wearing her hair in one small braid that flowed down her back like a tail.


I found excuses to hold her hand to feel her soft skin in my palm.


I lied and said her braid was messed up just so that I could fix it and feel her even softer hair between my fingers.


I would think, “I wish she was a boy so that I could be boy-crazy too.”


Don’t be mistaken. I have had my fair share of boy crushes throughout my life, but I’ve also had my fair share of… whatever this was. I didn’t know what it meant at the time, but I was never scared about the fact that I was drawn to my best friend and not any of the boys in my grade. Surprisingly, this thought never confused me. I never thought to myself, “I shouldn’t be thinking this.” In fact, I thought it was normal. “Everyone thinks that about their best friend,” I thought to myself.


Although I wasn’t scared of the fact, I never revealed these thoughts to anyone. Deep down, I guess I knew I would get weird looks and comments about what I was thinking, and willed them away and unconsciously tried to find a boy with her qualities. I never found a boy like her, and I never forgot that thought I had about her.


* * *


When conversations turn to the topic of individuality, I can’t help but think about that recurring thought I had all those years ago. Even now, I still don’t know who “myself” is.


Of course, I learned that the thought that I had about my best friend meant that I liked girls in addition to guys, but I still don’t know if that should be what is used to define myself.


A more accurate way to describe me at this moment would be someone who loves. Evidently, I didn't care that she was a girl and I didn't care if my crush was a guy. I just know I love love.

The people closest to me would recognize this by the embarrassing collection of romance books I have lined up on my bookshelf, organized by genre, author, and fictional trope, all of which are regularly dusted. I have stacks of fantasy, sci-fi, and contemporary romance, but my favorite by far is every one of Jane Austen's books.


When I think about that one thought that I was so scared to say out loud, even when alone, I am reminded of a line from Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility: “I wish, as well as everybody else, to be perfectly happy; but, like everybody else, it must be in my own way.”


I know that, realistically, Jane Austen may not have been so happy with the fact that I liked a girl, knowing she lived in the early 1800s in England, but I do know she once experienced the feeling of not being allowed to love who she truly did.


The regency era of England wasn’t only defined by the empire waist-line dresses or the extravagant balls, but also the fact that marriage was an essential part of growing up. In Jane Austen’s Persuasion, the main character, Anne, was dissuaded from marrying her true love, Wentworth, due to the fact that he had no prospects, money, property, or anything that would allow her status to rise in society, or even stay the same. In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet was offered a marriage proposal by her cousin which her mother begged her to accept. Knowing that they are a family of 5 daughters, they would not be able to inherit the current family estate. Such was the way of 1800s England and beyond even, and it urged the women to look for union with a male family heir or search elsewhere with a man with great prospects and money to preserve their status and ensure their safety.


Now, I know this isn’t a perfect analogy, but it’s something that resonates with me the most. That friend from so many years ago has left me over time and I haven’t talked to her since we were 9 or 10, but the farther we drifted apart, the more I felt that heartbreak that Anne or Elizabeth may have felt at one point, thinking that they would never be able to find someone that will truly match them without society picking at everything about that person.


Whether that special someone was a girl or boy, rich or poor, I wouldn’t care. I would just want to have my story end like a Jane Austen novel: conflicts resolved, hard feelings amended, loving who I love.

 

About The Author: Chayse Gomez is a senior in high school. She loves to read and write stories and loves to learn new things.











 

Editor's Note: This piece is part of our "Pass The Mic" series, featuring teen authors sharing important moments from their own life story. If you are teenager who'd like to submit a piece for consideration, please click here.