First published on Birdee.
I met a boy. A boy who made me smile uncontrollably, my heart leap, and my stomach clench, for no apparent reason.
This feeling, as alien to me as those creatures in Independence Day, is like nothing I’ve ever felt before. Just as Bob Marley would melodiously wonder, “Is this love that I’m feeling?” Surely not. I haven’t even been on a traditional date with this boy – you know the one: dinner, cheeky hand-holding and a goodnight kiss. But there have been many moments and conversations where we’ve been on intellectual and sexual fire, which is probably why I’ve come to the realisation that this isn’t lust anymore, and I’m in serious trouble.
For the past 24 years of my life – or at least since the day I figured out that boys made my nether region tingle – I’ve protected my heart in its cocoon. I was that girl in high school who intimidated the boys in her class with a very Destiny’s Child approach to life. Sing it with me: “I buy my own diamonds and I buy my own rings!”
For all these years, proudly enough, I’ve always put my career and life’s priorities first, and catered to my heart and romantic feelings second. I thought I was too strong and independent to let a guy get beyond the ‘let me buy you lunch from the school canteen’ stage. And if I did feel someone crossing the emotional brick walls I had built for myself, I’d turn cold and make them repel me in some way or another. I was scared. I was terrified of feelings.
Throughout my 20s, I’ve kept my guard up with men because I felt I was too strong to be vulnerable to anyone else. Call it snobbery or a strong mind, but I have always been my most favourite person. How could I ever let a guy take over and ruin my relationship… with me? After all, you need to love yourself first before you let a guy love you, right? I considered it a weakness to fall for someone, because then I would have to invest in the relationship and abandon my feminist Beyoncé attitude. Never!
A Byron Bay psychic once told me, “Shitika, men see you as their mum. You are emitting this energy of ‘don’t come near me, or else’. Continue doing so and you’ll be alone”. Geez, thanks hippie lady! Deep down though, I truly was afraid.
And then – just as they always do – things changed.
This boy walked into my life and left an impact powerful enough to blow my mind. My heart is currently strapped into a ridiculous rollercoaster and I’m unable to rationalise my thoughts. I have let a boy affect me, and I’m scared to the bone of what this might be. I’m starting to think from my heart, and not my once-strong, independent head.
As I pen this, I realise that I sound like a 15 year-old girl stuck in a grown woman’s body. I find myself standing in front of the mirror, every single day, and wondering out loud, ‘what is wrong with you, Shitika? Can you stop being a cliché girl out of a Kate Hudson movie?’ I think it’s helping.
There isn’t much reciprocation from the boy’s end, and that’s OK, because this isn’t about him. This isn’t a narration of a potential heartbreak, this is about the emancipation of my heart. This is about me, and how this entire process of letting my guard down, after two decades, has left me with an open can of worms. I’m now excited by with what can come from me exposing this emotional side of myself.
I have had all these years to practice valuing and treasuring myself, and perhaps, it’s now time to let someone else share that job.
I’ve started to realise that the definition of ‘letting go’ isn’t fluttering around town in a red dress with flowers in my hair. I don’t need to be a result of that cookie-cutter image of a woman who loses her sense of self-worth and value when she starts falling for someone. I can continue to feel empowered and kick butt in all other aspects of my life, whilst letting this little feeling of vulnerability accompany me along my new ride.
And after all these years of being a cynic and cringing at couples melting in PDA, I wonder, will I finally be able to understand love? Will this crazy experience make things easier for boy #2 (if he does come along) to break through my weakened walls? Most importantly, will I be able to feel these feelings, again?
Surely, this isn’t what love feels like…. is it?