(For the better.)
Save for musical productions and the occasional dance recital, I never really put myself out there freshman year of high school. In fact, I was less than a risk-taker—I was a downright ‘fraidy cat. At this point in my life, I had never done anything remotely extreme. I hadn’t even driven a car or fed a donkey at the petting zoo. (Losing a finger would crush my dreams of making first chair in orchestra, duh.)
But while my dorkdom was less Zooey Deschanel and more I’m-the-girl-wearing-that-same-raggedy-cardigan-each-and-every-day, I was as stoked as humanly possibly for Turnabout, my school’s version of a Sadie Hawkins dance. Finally, my boy-craziness would allow me to ask someone out with no real ramifications. It was safe, it was fun, and all-in-all, pretty risk-free.
And then there was the sentence that changed everything:
“Lisa and Rob* broke up!”
Game. Over. Rob was in my science class, on the football team, and frankly so handsome that teachers probably noticed. All dimples with a smile that could melt a block of ice, he was like a teenage Channing Tatum roaming the sun-soaked halls of our suburban campus. My friend Haley and I spent most of class giggling, studying him more than we ever did that fetal pig, but never, ever would I have expected I’d actually think about asking him to Turnabout.
Looking back on it, I’m not sure what caused my overwhelming dose of ballsiness. But when I heard he was single, something from within me shouted, “Do it! Take a chance!” And instead of stuffing that voice deep down and calling myself crazy for even thinking he’d say yes, I saw my opportunity and knew I had to seize it, no matter the outcome.
(All right, all right—my best friend offering me a batch of homemade brownies in case he said no helped too!)
As I dialed Rob’s number from the darkest corner of my basement, phone cord nervously twirling around my finger, I was so scared I could puke. It ends up I had good reason to because as you’ve probably deduced from the headline of this story, I got a big fat no. To my complete surprise though, he didn’t laugh at me. He didn’t turn me down because I was a theater kid. He didn’t tell me I was a weirdo or ugly or fat or any of those terrible things my innermost self thought. He said no because he and Lisa had broken up so recently that he wasn’t sure if they were still going together.
At the time, I didn’t understand the weight of what I’d done. Sure, it wasn’t easy to face him the next day or to pass his friends in the hallway wondering if they knew. When you don’t get the results you want, it feels like everyone can see through you, watching your failure radiate from your entire being. But in the end? I had a mountain of brownies, a killer group of friends, and an unbelievable time that night.
While I didn’t get to go to the dance with the hottest guy on my arm, what I gained was so much more worthwhile: the power to get out of my own way and go after what I want. Asking Rob to Turnabout taught me that the two outcomes of any given situation aren’t “failure” and “success.” They’re both success.
When you’re faced with something scary, choosing the more terrifying option sets into motion a chain of events that lets your brain choose the intimidating-but-worth-it thing next time. Close your world off to something remarkably small (like asking a boy to spend two hours with you in a gymnasium) early on, and you may not even see the big, gigantic, amazing opportunities that pass you by in the future.
Getting rejected by Rob left me at the same date-less place as not even asking him, but the risk I took in doing so allowed me to grow as a person. I bounced back. I picked myself up and dusted that ratty cardigan off, knowing I could handle whatever got thrown my way.
Without falling on my face in the name of love, I would never have had the guts to audition for and make my school’s renowned variety show, meet my college boyfriend, or even move to New York without a job and like no money after graduation. I’d never know the rush of pride and excitement it feels to go after something you want—whether it’s a career in music or somebody to call your own—and how to find the silver lining when you don’t get it.
Asking Rob to Turnabout really did set off a pattern of chance-taking that has led me right to where I am today: a freelance-writing, coupled-up girl ready to flip life on its side yet again and try a brand-new career in television. Is it scary? Sure, but I know from experience that I can handle it. And in a way, that’s better than a studly date to a school dance could ever be.
Source from: http://www.teenvogue.com/advice/relationship-advice/2014-06/rejection