The Unimaginable Roller Coaster Of Feeling Something New in Your 20s

This is a disclaimer that what I'm about to recount is scathingly truthful. It might disgust you, but I'm not in the business of ...

This is a disclaimer that what I'm about to recount is scathingly truthful. It might disgust you, but I'm not in the business of feeling too poor about it because I'm being honest. All I ask is not to judge so easily. It's taken a lot for me to post this, but I did so in good faith that it will be in some way helpful, insightful, or entertaining.

One of the most personal experiences I could share with you is that of my first ever relationship. It finally happened at the very ripe old age of 19. Yes, that is pretty much a rarity in this day and age, that prior to my 19 years of life, I had never actually dated/had a boyfriend/relationship.

Most people have play marriages with boys in their class before they turn 5, but not for me.

I am the girl guys like to be friends with. I'm a little crude, very open and someone who gives solid advice on females. I started noticing most guys see me as a friend. I'm not particularly attractive but my female friends are. Guys can be friends with me easily because I'm not attractive and I never pose a threat to the friendship. I started feeling complacent about making romantic connections even from a young age because I didn't have the confidence that anyone would actually be attracted to me. I think that was my biggest issue.

I don't like the idea of the "friendzone". Because it assumes a sense of entitlement. Just because you treat someone well, you don't deserve their love. You can't control someone else's thoughts and emotions. I never felt in the "friendzone". But yes, my romantic void began from a young age.

I'm not sure if it seems as bizarre to everyone else as it did to me: that my dating life was non-existent. I wasn't upholding a promise, or practicing certain values that I particularly believed in. But it just never really happened. Most of my friends are relatively late bloomers, but there was always romance in the air- crushes, who liked who and whatnot. Just not for me. It just never happened. No boy was interested in me when I was younger and I never felt a connection with anyone either.

I was dealing with my own issues and even though I did want to date, I never felt the urge to until all my friends started engaging in their own romantic entanglings when we left high school. I kept feeling like time was ticking and I wasn't getting any younger. First it was people dating, and then I realised more and more people were losing their virginity. I thought I was going to be the only one left on earth. It loomed over my head as I heard people from my primary school and high school were pregnant, getting engaged and even getting married.

It was 2014 and I turned 19 in March going through too much romantic teenage angst for someone my age. Society was telling me I was an adult, a full fledged (pretty much), bill-paying member of society. By that time, my frustration pushed me to rush and hope that I'd get over this first time anxiety quickly so that I would stop feeling so hesitant to put myself out there. I kept thinking that if I could just get it all over with for the first time, the source of my stress would disappear. I thought I should get it over with quickly, then I'll be able to move on. I thought I shouldn't make a big deal about it.

So I went out regularly. It wasn't as much as my peers, who I'd see getting tagged in party pics every weekend. But I did go clubbing a lot more and the frequency increased especially in the middle of the year. I genuinely liked going out, it wasn't purely to hook up. It was a great way to de-stress from study, work, and the general daily routine. Being disguised in that setting eased my anxiety about the issue. No one could tell I had never talked to a guy, or danced with a guy. I was pretty natural and found it easy to socialise when I was socially lubricated with alcohol.

I was excited because my enjoyment of dancing drunk unintentionally led to those experiences I thought I had longed for. I learned to talk to guys. I got attention from guys and I finally started to feel somewhat attractive due to that attention. I was suddenly meeting all these guys that didn't know who I was. I wasn't the romantic void I thought I was. Although I am quite social and I do have many male and female friends, this was a different type of socialising that I was becoming comfortable with.

I really enjoyed going out and I think it helped me enjoy my other relationships even more as well. I made a fair few new friends in my "day life" because it became so much more easier to put myself out there and talk to anyone I could. At this point in time, I think I was finally accepting my situation. Being single became this cool thing where I could enjoy my youth and still feel "special" because I was keeping those memories for someone special. Although I was still dateless, I was quite happy because I was meeting guys and having fun.

I felt very liberated being independent, doing everything I wanted while also having a slice of life. When I was clubbing I experienced this fantasy, where I could have a lover for half a night. The clock ticked over and I could just run away on my carriage and keep such a pretty memory without having to see that person ever again (most times!).

That's when it all changed. A boy took interest in me. Not a guy at a club, but someone from my "day life"- where I was this busy, loud, sensible girl who read comic books and had brunch too much. It came so left of field, someone who liked me for me, the day me who wasn't glammed up in a provocative dress and giggly from too much vodka.

What did that feel like? Scary. Something I had never gone through. As an adult, it felt like am impossibility.

It was something I had wanted so badly in the past and it was now a reality. So without even feeling the same way about that person, I entered this new territory and got into a relationship with them. Everything was so new and exciting. When someone was so interested in me- what I'm doing, what I like, what I dislike. Soon I began wondering the same things about him too, all the time.

We began dating around the end of the year and everything was amazing. I was so happy and I felt a sense of fulfilment I had never experienced before in my entire life. He gave me something I had never felt from even my family. I think eventually I started liking him more than he liked me and that's when it became complicated.

I had always wondered what it felt like to hold hands, to hug someone, to do all these things with people you cared about. I received flowers, gifts, kisses for the first time. I had someone's shoulder to lean on, I had someone's hand to hold in the movie theatre. I had someone to poke or scare when I jumped out behind the door (which never worked -_-).

They were small gestures that meant the world to me because I had never experienced any of them before. Every time they happened, I realised it was my first time doing them and something in my head ticked off this infinite unknown list I hadn't even consciously devised.

I was someone that was starved- who was starving for all their life- and had eaten a meal for the first time. A thousand hidden treasures couldn't replace that spoonful of food that I had been starved of my whole life. I don't think I really understood that at that point in time.

Of course I got to feel jealousy for the first time as well. It came crashing over me. I realised how irrational my emotions were becoming but it was something that was out of my control. I would feel inferior for being inexperienced, and I would feel self conscious about my looks in this new setting of intimacy that had unearthed itself in the relationship.

I had never imagined being so jealous over other girls. I always hoped to be the "cool" girlfriend. But the reality was that I started caring so much about the other person that every time I felt that it wasn't being reciprocated, it crushed me quite a lot. Remember when I previously mentioned entitlement? Yeah, I should've told that to the girl from 2014 who was slowly falling for this boy.

Everything came crashing down. He didn't want to be in the relationship so we broke up. I think I felt truly devastated. It was one of the worst points in my life. A lot of that had to do with the idea that I had already convinced myself I loved him. I never received much love in my life, so to have it disappear in a day? It was like my entire life was crashing down.

But what really happened? We dated for less than six months. In the grand scheme of things, that is negligible time. We didn't have pictures together on social media. Our footprint on this earth as a couple was practically zilch. But I still felt this misery of having to lose something and lose something that was a part of myself too.

I was now 20 and it was too late in my life to be feeling like this. The fact that I felt stupid and too old to be experiencing the "first love heartbreak" only made it worse. Experiencing this as an adult only amplified its effects on my life. I had to cope with responsibilities that didn't exist as a teenager.

I had to be "mature about it", and to minimise the effects our breakup would have on our friends. I had to forcibly stop myself from being so emotionally and physically distraught when I set foot into work every day and put on a smile which was extremely agonising. I had to overcome all these feelings in a timeframe that wouldn't effect my studies and work.

I had to be friends and cool with everything. I guess thats the norm when you're experienced with relationships. But it was my first, it was like the rug had been jerked away from under me. It became a very rough period for me, I didn't know who I was anymore and I didn't know what to do next.

I spent a lot of time resenting everything. Regretting, and hating myself and my mistakes. But I think over time I came to realise it was imminent. Nothing last forever. Especially not the first one. We build a fantasy world- everyone does- it only goes away when they fantasy is shattered. I still experienced the love and heartache of a first time. Even as a twenty-something, the feelings still felt new and fresh and equally as devastating.

Now I keep looking back as if it were a dream. My thoughts on it change back and forth, every trigger leads to a different re-imaging of one point in time. They become different memories. I've settled with feeling bittersweet about the experience. I'm appreciative now- that this person could reach out and give me that dream. It felt as if they opened a door to this fairytale where I could experience all these new and exciting memories. I remember those images of happiness and fulfilment. It's something I would've never had the chance to go through without them, and something I won't feel ever again. The sour note comes from the fact that they were responsible for everything- the happiness and the end of it.

What's next for me? I think it's brought me full circle- back to that girl in 2014 who was free and loving her life. She wasn't being held back by anything even though there were difficult things weighing her down. It's kind of beautiful that I'm back here. I'm trying to find that happiness again.

I'm not going to date for a while. I joke to my friends that I'm never dating again after it. The outcome was, to an extent, what I had actually wanted. I got over my first time anxiety. I didn't ask for the emotional roller coaster that came with it but you can't always get what you want. I'm not ready for the potential emotional damage that comes with relationships and I'm not sure when I will be.


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