When I was 15 and fell in love the first time, the general rule was not to act on it. Wait for him to fall in love with you, they said. Don’t ever tell him your feelings, they said.
I told him anyway. And it could just have been the most empowering thing I’ve done in my life. The role women were imposed with is just unfair. There’s a concept of self preservation across cultures and as Filipinos, we are expected to mirror Maria Clara and wait for us to be wooed in the azotea by a handsome, young, dashing man.
Well, I live in the topmost floor of a high rise condominium, no one’s ever going to woo me from below.
When I told friends what I did (and even now when I retell the story) the general sentiment is that it’s gutsy.
Damn right it’s gutsy. But what I can’t bear is the injection of whether I felt defeated because rejection was made worse by the fact that I told him. They think that if I hadn’t, years of dwelling and the ultimate rejection in the end would have made for a more graceful exit. I can’t understand why a girl telling a boy she loves him is so “ungraceful.”
If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing except that I should have told it more. I said it just once, and I went years thinking that once is enough. It wasn’t enough, for a love that (I think) molded my coming of age; for a love that served as a muse for my writing growing up; the kind of love that taught me about what it means to have self esteem, how it feels to lose it, how to get it back, and ultimately, how to grow up the kind of person that doesn’t need another person to feel complete, once is never enough.
Yes, I laid my heart bare and fragile. Like putting it on a table and giving him the permission to break it, as many times as he can because it’s okay — it’s okay to have my heart broken if only to mean it did something.
And I think that’s my victory. People see it another way, because I’m a girl, I’m the one who lost, I’m the one they pity, I’m the one who was left behind.
I took control of my destiny, I didn’t just wait and depended for the other person to say when and whether or not I can love him. I wanted to love him, that was my decision, and at the end of the day, I stood tall, called it a defeat, but never a failure.
I did everything I think I should, how can you call that a failure.
I write this as I cross another threshold in my growing up stage — after 6 years of being in love with a person who can’t find it in his heart to fall in love with me — and 2 years of struggling to define “feelings,” never quite putting my finger on it, sometimes confusing being comfortable with another person as maybe love, and then maybe not, I finally felt certain that whatever this is I’m feeling — it’s not just any other thing.
And again, people tell me: you can’t just do all the first steps.
Why not? It’s not everyday I feel this way, to stumble upon a person one day and just realize, the butterflies are back from years of wandering around.
I haven’t decided what I’m gonna do yet, but I’ll leave it with this: whether you’re a boy, or gay, or bi, and especially if you’re a girl, when you feel feelings, you act on it, be smart, be dignified, be “graceful,” but be gutsy, tell him, tell him straight and don’t be scared of falling flat on your face because when you do nothing, that’s when you fail.
Forget people, it’s not that they say that matters, it’s what that person will say — and whether it’s rejection or affirmation, you got your chance.
Not everyone gets a chance, take yours.