Once upon a time in a land far, far away there lived a young girl and a frat guy, pushed together by fate and stereotypes.
I met him when we worked at the same place my freshman year of college. Our job was a bit of a joke, with a lot of down time to just chat with our coworkers and make fun of each other. In our case, we spent a lot of time to flirting and talking sh-t.
Trust me, everyone wanted to flirt with him. I’m completely certain that everyone still does. Let’s just say he sells the frat boy look and he knows it. Slowly, it developed into something.
No one at work knew and we never did anything when the sun was up or around other coworkers. Luckily, he didn’t go to the same college as me, so it was relatively easy to avoid mutual connections.
We went to his actual home once and then to a breakfast place another day, but those were pretty much our only chances of being seen. The breakfast place was hilarious actually, full of dragged boyfriends and grandmothers with their single daughters. They had some damn good pancakes though.
Slowly, our relationship deepened. I’m going to call it a relationship because it was one, but not a romantic one. It was a friendship that kind of became dating. It’s hard to explain because it didn’t really have a label. Honestly, it didn’t need one.
The main thing about it was that it was never going to turn into anything more than it already was. I would never be his girlfriend and he would never be my boyfriend. Ever. We both knew that.
We “dated” for over a year with a break in between for the summer.
We had the kind of relationship where we could both see through each other. He saw through my bullshit and I saw through his front. It took us a little while, but we got there. We saw that there was something deep below the surface that most people didn’t see—in both of us.
So how did we find it? We talked. We talked a lot. I can tell you some of the basics of him, but not all of them. That’s not what it was about. I know where he grew up, but not his mom’s name. I know why he left school, but not his first job.
The important thing is that I know the things that make him who he is. I know what happened to his sister that forever changed him. I know his worst girl experience that he’d never told anyone else. I know how he felt about people and his life. I know how he feels about his relationships with girls.
I know the real him because I know the things that matter. To me, it doesn’t matter what you major in or how old your grandpa is—it matters who you are inside, how they treat people and what they have in their past.
He may not think it, but he knows the real me, too. He knows my story: about my parents, about my sister, about myself. I opened myself up to him as much as he did for me.
I’m just not sure he believed me.
A lot of the time when you hide and keep a wall up, as I was especially familiar with, it takes a long time to break it down. I put up a front with him at the beginning. But slowly, the front crumbled and instead I was just myself.
I believe he knew the real me but didn’t think he did. He saw the front as always there, never fully letting him in. The sad thing is that he was the one I let in the most back then, and maybe even now.
It means a lot when you find someone you can tell the world to, someone who cares about you, listens to your opinion and challenges you to think beyond it. He did that for me.
That’s the most ironic thing about this story. He is not the stereotype. He forced me to look at people and not see them for what they look like. I judged people so, so harshly back then, just because they wore Greek letters on their back. Some of those guys are jerks, but a lot of them aren’t.
Now to the sad part: how it all ended.
My guess is that you all think I fell for him. Or even more laughably, he fell for me.
Instead, it ended because of respect. He didn’t feel that I gave him any, and honestly, I completely disagreed. However, looking back, I don’t think either of us really understood the value of the friendship or really respected the other. It ended with the ending of the relationship and a really special friendship at that.
Now, he wasn’t perfect in the least. I didn’t believe everything he told me about his morals, and saw him not take his own advice. I know he has flaws, and he knows he does too. He’s arrogant and terrible at expressing his feelings. Aside from all of that, he was a really good friend. And he has a damn good heart.
When I first met him, I was this broken girl who didn’t know what she was doing. She made poor decisions, no self-respect and did absolutely whatever she wanted at all times. It’s not a great way to live life, but it happens.
Right now, I’m not that girl. I’m not some broken girl who felt like she was nothing. That’s not me anymore, and that’s partly because of him. I know that the people around you shouldn’t form you and I feel confident that he didn’t “form me.” Strangely, he taught me a lot.
Now, I don’t judge so harshly. I don’t let myself undervalue myself. I am worth so much more than what I have gotten in the past. I have confidence that I never had before because of him. I learned that if you find someone to open up to, let them in. It’s rare, but it’s worth it when you find them.
I’m not that broken girl from before. Looking back on all of this, I want to get some of that girl back. That fearlessness, that courage to do anything I wanted and talk to whomever I pleased. I lost that spirit, that fierceness and reflecting back on that part of my life has shown me that that part of me is just as important.
College is about figuring out how you are. I was figuring out what I wanted and didn’t want in myself and he helped me along with that. I thank him for that and open up the door to keep finding myself.
It’s college – there’s always more to learn. I wonder who will help challenge me next.