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(Bonus points if you know what movie this is from.)
It might not even be the first time I felt really rejected by a crush, but it is the first time I remember vividly. I was a chubby fifth-grader infatuated with a blond boy. I’m not sure if I had yet fully realized how my permed bangs, buck teeth, and Children’s Place leggings covering short legs truly made me appear (thank God). But I knew I was not an It Girl.
And I heard the other boys in the hallway singing, “Sherry, Sherry Baby,” to him. Sherry was not just a song on the oldies station; Sherry was a different girl in the fifth grade. She was thin and blonde and unassuming. She had the mysterious aura of a girl who walked to school. And I felt my first swift blow of rejection.
No, he didn’t reject me directly. But I knew I could never compete with her. Even as an eleven-year-old, I knew I was Wrong and she was Right.
The times of rejection came swiftly once middle school arrived. Not being asked to dance while wading among the girls at the gender-segregated gym fetes. Pining for a friend’s boyfriend and making a fool out of myself when they broke up. (And then got back together … and probably had a good laugh about it.) The good friend who became too much and never enough.
Not answering emails about school dances once email came around in high school. (Yes, I am THAT OLD.) The humiliation of not being asked on a second date when I thought it wasn’t so bad for my first real date. Always overreacting. Always being Wrong. Clinging to the one who seemed to actually like me, even if maybe it wasn’t me he liked but some trying-to-be-Right version of me I created.
Pining for ones not worth pining for. Spending all these years letting arrow after arrow pierce my young heart.
I am pretty sure it’s not normal, remembering all these times of being cut. I can re and re and relive all the times I’ve said the Absolute Wrong Thing in my head, and what I probably should have said instead.
I found the right person in college. He thought, and still thinks, that I am Right Enough. I’ve spent the last thirteen years going back and forth between trying to believe him and trying to convince him he’s wrong. What would make me Right? Maybe if I lost weight. Kept a clean enough home. Parented our kids into tiny angels. But I can’t ever seem to do those things, so I feel Wrong. WRONG WRONG WRONG.
Most days I feel the only thing I do Right is bake a good cake and be Wrong.
To be continued …