Last week I wrote about telling people you have a crush on them. My attitude towards this is that you should tell people things but that you need to tell them in ways that effectively give them the correct impression about yourself. This requires self knowledge and discipline and so isn't a universally useful strategy. However, some people disagreed, and the basis for our disagreement seemed to stem around our first experiences with crushes. My experiences were coloured by my refusal to do anything about them and others seem to have had 'too much, too fast' as their formative experience.
When I was in high school I didn't date at all. Had my first kiss at age 20. (Followed very shortly by my first everything.) It isn't as if I didn't find people attractive in high school but rather just that I was too cowardly to do anything about it. I spent a lot of time around KissMe but never actually got up the nerve to make a move of any sort. I had all kinds of reasons for that: Someone had said that she had a boyfriend and I was moving away to school soon and she wasn't going to be able to follow me due to an age difference of two years.
Of course planning years in advance for a first teenage romance is ridiculous and I never actually confirmed that said boyfriend existed so the truth is I was just too afraid of being rejected. I even had confirmation that she liked me well enough since we hung out at school and our families were friends so we did camping trips and such together too. There was every reason to think that a clumsy, embarrassed asking out attempt would at worst be met with polite refusal and not laughter and mockery.
It isn't as if I live under a cloud of regret from not asking KissMe to, well, kiss me. It is rather just that it is the loudest and brightest example of how I lived when I was young. Rather than take my chances and learn I would hide and wait and prepare and imagine how great things would be once all my devious plans had come to fruition. I was afraid to fall, afraid to fail, afraid to lose. But falling and failing and losing are how we learn to win, and winning is so much the sweeter when the memories of all those clueless disasters are still fresh in the mind.
I know what keeping it all bottled up is like, and I know what just telling people things and going for it is like. Neither is perfect but when placed side by side it is abundantly clear to me that I want my regrets in life to be about going for it and failing spectacularly rather than the slow death of suppressed desire. Still, I wonder if I had asked KissMe out if I would reach a different conclusion today.