I told you I'd share embarrassing stories of myself, yes? Well. I stick to my word.
(This is a repost from an old blog of mine.)
Since my heroine Breslin is a seventeen-year-old, and an easily embarrassed one, I thought I’d let you in on some of the more "special" moments I’ve experienced in my life. After all, who doesn’t like laughing at others?
Senior year was pretty great. I had a solid group of friends; enjoyed taking dance class; was a varsity cheerleader; and felt more confident in my skin (as confident as an introverted with a yet-to-be-discovered anxiety disorder seventeen-year-old could be). Talking with boys seemed less intimidating. Especially boys I thought were just friends.
I had auditioned for a swing dance group and got it–this was one of the most fun experiences in high school by far. Loved. Plus, getting to dance with guys in an unassuming, casual yet fun way was perfect for me. Lots of joking around. Lots of laughs. Lots of silly.
Little did I know, I had made a different impression on a boy in this group. A boy who was indeed very nice and very sweet; and a boy who decided he wanted to ask me to prom.
I hadn’t expected to go to prom. I was a non-dating senior in high school who only went to dances stag (my parents instilled in me the idea of waiting-to-date until I was older, and I fully supported that); it made the occasions less stressful and as equally fun, since I could dress up, be goofy, and not worry about every tiny insecurity I would have worried about had I gone with a guy. Which is why, I had succumbed to the fact that I wouldn’t have a date to prom.
Someone didn’t get the memo.
I arrived at school one morning to a Chinese take-out box sitting on my desk in English class. Having attention drawn to me was not a favorite of mine. So, when I finally sat down, students around me were vocally curious. “Open it!” “What’s inside?” “Who left it?” Heat burned my neck. I’d have rather taken the box into the restroom and opened it there. But with the mini frenzy that was starting, I did what they wanted. And opened it.
Inside, was a clue written on an opened fortune cookie slip of paper. Since it’s been years (fifteen I think (dang)), I can’t remember what it said. But I do remember bemoaning the fact that this wasn’t over. The attention; the mystery; the inevitable question.
Classes went on and more take-out boxes appeared on my desks. Inside each was a new clue. My anxiety grew with each box I collected. With each stare that focused on me. And with each thought of who was this from? I didn’t have admirers or a potential crush at the time. The mystery was killing me.
Finally, lunch was drawing to an end, and I was heading up the stairs of the science building. When coming down to meet me was my swing dance partner. The boy. The very nice, very sweet boy who I had only labeled as friend. There he was, standing there with a dozen red roses and a huge smile on his face.
I wanted to faint.
I shuffled towards him, feeling an overwhelming mixture of feelings. Embarrassment for sure. Here I was, soaking in the attention from all around the courtyard; faces, staring at me; expectantly waiting for me to answer his question.
Maybe someone with a more stabilized internal world, someone who didn’t tense up when embarrassed, someone who handled anxious situations well might have handled this sweet moment better. But I wasn’t that girl.
The memory of what happened next is a bit hazy. But I do remember washing that smile off his face with a quiet and gentle no. It was awful. Awful to put him through that. Awful for not being a more balanced person at the time. Awful for the questionable stares that followed after I retreated. Why, why would I have said no to such a sweet and grand effort?
Because. I was seventeen. Anxiety riddled. Affected by embarrassment. Introverted. And a dating newbie. Put that together with a grand, publicized gesture and you’ve got the worst case scenario. For me. And for the poor boy who asked me.
Today, I hope I would respond differently. Yes, I’m still easily embarrassed and an introvert; but with help and time, I’ve quieted my internal fears and anxieties, and have freed myself from the hold embarrassment has on me like it did back then.
And to the sweet boy who asked me to prom, you were a stand-up guy. No doubt you found your forever “prom date” who appreciated your grand gestures. Keep being you.