This is hard for me to write without first coming off as narcissistic or conceited. So, I’ll start from the beginning.
I was never one of the “cool” kids. I had braces through most of middle school and my mom still dressed me, bless her heart. I had never touched a hair straightener or even looked at makeup. I’m not sure I had even tried on a bra by the time seventh grade rolled around. I was frumpy, to say the least.
I had great friends, though. I played soccer and I was in band. I was funny and it wasn’t hard for me to make friends, but a boyfriend was a different story. I had tons of crushes on guys who were definitely way out of my league. None of them ever liked me back, though. I wasn’t pretty enough. I still had fun in middle school. None of my friends had boyfriends. I was a-okay.Once high school rolled around the negative thoughts came about. One of my best friends was gorgeous, outgoing, athletic, and fairly popular. To top it all off, she was nice, so I couldn’t even hate her. Every boy I had a crush on ended up liking her – and I’m not exaggerating. It sucked. Hard.
I spent probably a year and a half trying to be “emo,” except my mom wouldn’t let me dye my hair black or drastically cut my hair, so I was officially the world’s worst emo kid. I didn’t even have cool emo kid band tees. I just wore heavy makeup and drove myself to shows (RIP MCR). I also heavily edited photos of myself (see directly below)
I wasn’t emo enough to hang out with the emo kids, though, not that I tried too hard. They were a lot better at being angsty teens than I was and their parents didn’t care about how many piercings they had or the amount of hairspray used to get that ultimate back combed hairstyle. Instead I hung with the same group of friends since middle school who weren’t even close to being the least bit emo. Maybe I just wanted to be the edgy friend. I wasn’t super good at it, though.
I feel like by the time senior year rolled around I started to pull myself together a bit more, but then shit happened. There was a guy I really liked at my church. His best friend found out and sent me a nasty text that explained he’d never like me back and I’d probably never have a boyfriend. All self-esteem I might have gained from chopping off my hair and adding some blonde to it melted away in an instant. It was devastating. (He has then since apologized, not that the scars don’t still remain). I started to believe I was worthless and ugly. Many of my friends had boyfriends and I didn’t. I wondered what was wrong with me.Looking back, I wasn’t some hideous beast. I was pretty, but I didn’t know it (cue One Direction) and I think that severely hindered me in a lot of different aspects of my life. I think a negative self-image can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. People can tell you don’t think much of yourself and they’ll treat you as such. They’ll treat you as poorly as you treat yourself. 18 year old me would have never believed where I’m at now. I’m 23. I still battle with myself in the mirror. There are days when I feel like shit, but I’m still confident with who I am. I remind myself that I’ve come a long way since high school. I’ve been to 3 continents and 11 countries. I’ve graduated college. I understand how makeup works and I’ve found my own style.
But for more than half my life I sought after validation from men and that’s screwed me over in a sense. I still seek it. I still want men to flock to me in bars and I have moments of weakness when a cute guy gives me attention and then I wind up in a posh flat in Northern Iceland with a man I’d only met that afternoon or I leave for work with an Irishman still in my bed, praying he doesn’t steal anything (he didn’t).
The truth is, I love the feeling of when I get undressed and men praise my body with their eyes. I’m almost addicted to it. After years of being ignored I found a way to get the attention I always wanted and it’s dangerous. It’s heartbreakingly dangerous. Because now I know I can pick up that cute guy at a bar and he’ll take me home. Now I know I’m not ugly. But one night stands won’t ever turn into something more. We’re only using each other. And I want something more. I really do. I can blame the hookup culture all I want, but, to be honest, I perpetuate it myself. I’ll still try to make something more of it even though I know it’s only sex. I’ll do it over and over hoping maybe next time will turn into something more, but that’s not how it works and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the process.
It’s a vicious circle: enjoying sex and wanting love. For years I never felt good enough and, now that I do, I think I earned a little fun. Why shouldn’t I be reckless for a little bit? Why shouldn’t I use the hot guy I met on Tinder? Maybe next time it will turn into something more.
Or maybe not.