From Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul IV

Drowning in Somebody I’m Not

I know for me the subject of how to be in a relationship is precious and complicated and challenging. It wouldn’t be right to make it look too easy.

Helen Hunt

There is nothing like being young and in love. Your body trembles all over, and you long for that special person. I was sixteen when it first happened. Her name was Mary; she was one grade ahead and the most beautiful girl in the entire school. I was smaller than the rest of the guys my age but had many friends. I would walk by her locker, act cool and do just about anything to gain her attention.

Nothing worked.

I often pondered to myself, How would such a beautiful and amazing girl ever fall for a guy like me? I constantly thought that if I were a “hip guy,” she would eventually have to notice. Once, I “accidentally” dropped my letter jacket by her feet, just so she would note my varsity pins—and me.

She only laughed.

Then, at a weekend gathering one evening, she was there with all of her frightening friends. I decided that this had to be it; I couldn’t live with myself one second more without at least trying to talk to her. I checked my ego at the door—and decided to be myself. She was alone outside for one moment, and all I can remember is that she was so incredibly beautiful it made me dizzy. I walked up to her and said, “Hi, I’m Mark. You seem really nice; can we talk?” My belly rolled with butterflies while my head rushed with anxiety.

Time stood still for a moment.

She replied, “I know who you are; you’re different when your friends aren’t around.” And then she smiled and said, “I’m walking up the street to meet a friend. Would you like to go?” I could hardly breathe: How could this beautiful girl ever talk to a guy like me? Needless to say, we walked and talked, and she was everything I thought she would ever be. We giggled about the world and how stupid our friends were.

Then, to my amazement, she gave me her phone number. That night, Mary revealed that dropping my letter jacket in front of her was a stupid thing to do. She didn’t care about what sports guys lettered in, she only cherished wonderful people with substance. After I began being myself, we quickly fell for one another and became “high school loves.”

We later went on to separate colleges and grew apart, but one thing that I learned from the experience has stuck with me my entire life. If you try to act like somebody you’re not, any love or approval you gain won’t mean anything.

It’s best to just be yourself.

Mark Whistler

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