Brace yourself. This might sound bizarre.

Freshman year of college, I sat at my dorm room desk, cracked out on energy drinks and heard a fly buzzing near my ear while cramming for a next-day exam. As I swatted at the fly and heard the buzzing stop, I swore that it was stuck somewhere in my ear drum. When I returned home for summer break and visited my family doctor for a check-up, though I had no pain, I inscribed “Can you clean out my ear?” on my list of questions for him. However, when it came time to describe to him exactly why, I suddenly felt embarrassed to say the reason out loud.

Confessing a longtime crush can be similar. When it finally comes time, you freak out and suddenly wonder, “Is this how I really feel? Should I really admit this? What if they think I’m crazy?” However, sometimes you’re forced to do so.

In my case, it was a wild weekend that ended in my coveted guy friend making out with one of my close girl friends and asking how I felt if he hung out with her again. I’m being a bit vague on details for anonymity’s sake, but basically, I freaked out. It sent me into an emotional tailspin, and after withering away on a wine diet, I felt as though I needed to do some self-reflection and figure out the reason for my heated reaction.

Feelings for Him

If I was going to be honest with myself and my heart, I had to confront the fact that I’ve been attracted to him for three years, starting with a crush and leading to caring deeply. Spending a lot of time together, he has seen me at my highest and lowest, my most accomplished and my most awkward: the real Annie. As my giggle partner, cheerleader and fellow social anxiety friend, he gets me. And even after watching him eat food like a 4 year old and donning mix-matched outfits, I find him adorable and still get nervous butterflies around him sometimes.

In the fantasy that I had created, my feelings would have remained a secret until I was ready to move from Arizona and part ways. According to my imagination, we would go to a “Going Away” happy hour, drink too much, make confessions and have a passionate goodbye. Well, it didn’t happen quite like that. Instead I emailed him from a couple miles away. I had to let him know why I was so uneasy about the idea of him seeing one of my close friends.

Emailing someone about your feelings is probably the modern-day equivalent of confessing a crush via AOL Instant Messenger. But that’s what I did. Anyone who has met me knows that I’m painfully inarticulate in-person. Combine that with openly discussing feelings, and I nearly shut down. Writing allows me to not only articulate my feelings but to analyze the source of them. What is really causing the uneasiness and what lessons can be learned?

Well, the 2.5-page Google Doc of an explanation I produced felt good, as crazy as that sounds. It was written blog-style, though it was only shared privately, and I was proud of it. It conveyed exactly what I wanted by looking at the situation from a higher level, confessing my true feelings, taking ownership for my response and zeroing in on how I could have handled the situation better.

His Response and How It Felt

Similar to how the doctor checked both ears and established that there was no need for the ear cleanse, the fly was all in my head, my guy friend simply responded, “Thanks for the email.” I had been so confident before sending it that I had no expectations around a response, but now I was anything but confident with feelings that included:

1) Anxiety: When preparing to see him the next day, I stood in front of my closet numbly wondering, “What says, ‘You don’t like me, but I’m okay.’?” When he never brought up the email, I felt like my cheeks matched my magenta sweater. I was so embarrassed and suddenly felt like I may not have been wearing clothes at all. I felt naked.

2) Rejection: It’s natural to assume that not telling someone how you feel is like protecting yourself. If they don’t know, then you can fall back on that as the reason for them not sharing such feelings with you, instead of blaming it on your looks, personality and chemistry. Now I felt like every part of me wasn’t good enough, from my high-pitched laugh to my un-pedicured toes.

3) Insanely vulnerable: I thought that cutting my hair a few inches too short left me feeling raw, but it pales in comparison. I felt like I had contracted a disease that could be spread by locking eyes with him for a second too long. Not to mention that our lives are so intertwined, I felt like I had nowhere to run and no place to hide.

4) Almost regretful: The only thing that kept me confident in my confession was my too-true weekly horoscope that read: “Keeping it real is unavoidable this week, Cancer — even if you’d rather just put up the mask of politeness and shield yourself from the awkwardness or drama. With Monday’s soul-baring full moon in Pisces, the lock is off your chamber of secrets. Trust us, this is for the best.”

I really hoped so.

Liking Yourself

Tonight during hot yoga, the Alanis Morisette song “Ironic” came on which is, ironically, the same song that I mentioned in my last heartache blog post. During downward facing dog, I imagined lyrics about emailing someone your feelings while they’re texting your friend about theirs… “It’s a little bit ironic, don’t you think?” However, as I later lay in savasana, I realized that I either have the choice to let my reaction play out in the same pity party way that I did in that last post, masked by martinis and drunk texts, or I could choose to take a different route.

First, I think it’s important to note that I initially had a laundry list of different routes and life lessons that I was going to include in this post; however, I want to be real with you and myself. I always aim to practice what I preach and live what I list. While I’m confident I’ll eventually find peace with this situation, I can’t honestly tell you to let go of any expectations of a response when you pour your heart out to someone, and I can’t pretend like it’s something you get over in a day.

Feelings arent mutual quote

What I will tell you is this: The only person’s feelings you can control about you are your own. Yes, it’s difficult for me to come to terms with the fact that no matter how well my makeup is applied, how many cookies I bake for him or how much success I achieve, I cannot convince him to like me. But it’s the hard truth.

What I can do is focus my energy on liking myself, inevitably freeing me from seeking validation from him and bringing a sense of self-satisfaction. Standing in front of the mirror at hot yoga, shirt off, no makeup but smudged mascara, sweat pouring down my face, it forced me to look at myself – my true self – for 80 minutes after a miserable day. I realized it was the girl I wanted to get to know a little better instead of the one who is daily getting dolled up for someone else. I want her to wear makeup if she wants to wear makeup, to bake cookies for herself and to strive for success because it makes her happy.

Was sharing my feelings frightening? Yes. Does it still hurt? Yes. But I know where I need to redirect my attention: my new crush… on this girl named Annie.