When I was younger I wanted to...like everything the boys I liked liked.
If I had a crush on a boy or was dating a guy, I went out of my way to like whatever he liked whether I was interested in it or not. I pretended to be interested, hoping he would like me more.
It wasn’t just boys though. When I was in fourth grade, every Friday afternoon, we had an activity period. At the beginning of the year we could sign up for one of a dozen classes, but once we signed up we were committed to that activity for the rest of the year. My heart was excited about the art club, but two girls that I thought were cool were joining the yearbook club. I wanted to get to know them so I could be cool too. So I joined the stupid yearbook club.
Seriously. Who cares about yearbooks in fourth grade? No one, that’s who. I agonized through every Friday afternoon of that year longing to be in art club while I was stuck organizing photos in layouts. And the girls weren’t even that cool.
My eagerness to be liked continued into my teen years. I started to like baseball. I admit that some of my interest was because my dad enjoyed it and he took us to Orioles games. But the fervor I had for it – watching games every day, buying baseball magazines, making baseball player sculptures in art class, and knowing the batting averages of all the major players – was merely because I liked a boy that played baseball. He didn’t even know I existed.
In tenth grade I used my dubbing machine to copy an Iron Maiden cassette so I could memorize every lyric of every song because I liked a boy that liked Iron Maiden. I hated Iron Maiden.
I went spelunking once with one of my boyfriends. That’s hiking in a cave for the rest of you. I pretended to be brave. We hiked for three hours in the belly of the earth with flashlights on our heads, squeezing between rocks with a distance similar to the distance between two teeth on an Ace comb. We had no guide to lead us and only a yellowing, hand-drawn map. We crossed over crevices that had I fallen through I’m sure they would have left my body to rot and decay in the depths for there was no way anyone could get me out. So when my light battery began to die I started to hyperventilate. Then I shook and then I cried. Get me out of this pit of Hell!
I made it out of Hell alive and broke up with that guy. The next guy was into war. So I pretended to like the history of war and I read a number of books about war.
I had a bruise on my forehead from all the times it slammed on my kitchen table from falling asleep while trying to read The Killer Angels, a book about the four-day battle at Gettysburg. There were no love scenes in that book. Where was the romance? I couldn’t read that stuff.
My Sundays were spent watching cars drive around in circles for three to four hours courtesy of NASCAR. I knew the drivers by name. I knew where the races took place. I knew who sponsored which driver. And my neck turned red.
There were many situations where my life was enriched because of my desire to like things that boys I liked liked, like camping or mountain biking. And I learned about history. But the time I wasted pursuing activities and passions of others only for the sake of hoping they would like me was a waste of time and took me away from the the things I enjoyed. Eventually, I learned that just being myself would attract the right person. Perhaps this is why my husband was the “one”. Oh my gosh, I just puked a little.
Did you ever get into something only because you thought it would get others to like you?
This post is part of Finish The Sentence Friday.
Next week’s sentence: I blog because…