Then when I was in 8th grade, a tall lanky boy asked me to dance and I thought I had found the one. (Like...no joke guys. That's what I thought...I was clearly delusional).
By the time my senior year of high school rolled around, I had yet to have any romantic relationship with any boy. Although I had multiple crushes and talked about them endlessly to my friends. I was devastated. My friends were telling me stories about how this boy gave them flowers for their birthday or how that boy held their hand during a movie.
None of that happened to me.
I listened to their stories happily because they were my friends and I was elated for them.
But compared to them, I always felt less.
No one told me this. My friends never bullied me about it. None my friends even cared frankly, but I cared.
I believe that's when it started.
When I started telling myself I wasn't desirable and boys didn't want me. When I started to connect my self esteem to how many boys liked me.
I would think "I'm too tall. Who would want me?"
"I'm not skinny and blonde like so-and-so, that's why boys don't want to date me."
These thoughts seemed to creep in without any warning.
They just happened.
I moved up to Utah State and I thought "This is it. I'm getting married this year!" I couldn't wait. I pursued boy after boy and was devastated when my freshman year ended and I hadn't even kissed a boy.
The thoughts started again: "Well...I guess I'm not pretty enough. If I had a better body, I bet so and so would like me."
My sophomore and junior year of school went by with no kisses, no relationships, and no boys. The summer before my senior year rolled around and I was determined to get my first kiss. "How could I be 21 years old and never been kissed?" I scolded myself.
I had used Tinder for awhile but never really made a connection with anyone. Out of the blue I matched with a boy and I went on a date. He was a 6 foot 4 inch boy, who made me laugh, was confident, grabbed my hand on the second date and teased me to no end. That date was fantastic. We ran around a park, talked about how being tall is awkward, and danced in the street. It was magical and I thought he was great.
As the date ended, he walked me back to my car, wrapped his arms around me, and kissed me.
It was shocking and exciting all at the same time.
I drove home and screamed to my roommates "I GOT MY FIRST KISS!" I couldn't stop thinking about it.
Then everything went down hill...he wanted to kiss me more than I wanted to kiss him. He wanted me to make out with him even though I told him multiple times that we shouldn't be kissing so much.
Eventually, he just stopped talking to me. He was a total douche bag and called me some really hurtful names. (Glad I dodged that bullet).
I was so confused. Didn't kissing mean something? Didn't he want to date me?
The thoughts began again, but worse. "I should have just made out with him, maybe he would have wanted to date me." "What's wrong with me?"
These thoughts led me to seek some kind of happiness. I kissed boy after boy trying to make myself feel better. It was like an ibuprofen tablet that only lasted an hour instead of 24.
It broke me.
I sobbed telling my dad all that had happened as I tried salvaging what was left of my self esteem. I did things I'm not proud of all because I felt like I wasn't enough, that there was something wrong with me.
I believe this feeling is not uncommon among women. I would even venture to say that some of my peers struggle with this same concept. We seek gratification through how many boys we've made out with and how far we've gone. We seek for the world to view us as desirable.
We grasp relationships tight and don't let them go because we think we're not good enough for anyone else.
I, of all people, understand perfectly this kind of deep, emotional struggle. Once broken, I knew that it was important what I did from there on out. I knew I needed a better relationship with my Savior. I'm still creating that relationship with Jesus Christ.
I found talks and scriptures. One of my favorite talks is by Bruce C. Hafen entitled "The Gospel and Romantic Love." In it, he says:
"...the scriptures and the prophets counsel us to be virtuous not because romantic love is bad, but precisely because romantic love is so good. It is not only good, it is pure, precious, even sacred and holy. For that very reason, one of Satan’s cheapest and dirtiest tricks is to make profane that which is sacred."
I hadn't understood this before. I hadn't understood all the sacred elements that make up a relationship, that really bind two people together. Brother Hafen goes on to say:
"The idea of romantic love, so commonplace that it is touched upon in virtually every popular book or movie or magazine, is also at the very center of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is one of the greatest of God’s laws that “a man [shall] leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Gen. 2:24.)
This kind of love that we're all supposed to be feeling is sacred. It is not something to meddle with or stick our feet into. It's a promise. An eternal promise to God that we are doing our best to honor him and the covenants we made.
So here's the outcome: I'm still learning. I'm still trying and I'm still working. I'm working harder than ever to understand how much God loves me. Because that's what matters.
I'm not perfect. Little by little I'm working. In my journal a while ago I wrote: "All I know is I'm hanging onto the little faith I have. I'm surviving by the words of church leaders and the incredibly small moments. I'm living day by day. Hour by hour. Minute by minute. But I'm trying."
My advice? WAIT. Oh dear girls, WAIT. Physical intimacy can draw you into the deepest depth of depression. It is not sustainable and it is not lasting. WAIT for when you understand Christ's perfect love for you. That will sustain you. That is lasting.
When I sobbed to my dad about my struggles, he held my hand, stroked the top of my head, told me I was lovely, and hugged me until his hugs ran out and then he hugged me again.
I believe with all my heart that God is doing that for me.