When I walked into geography class on the first day of grade nine, the first thing I saw was Jacob*. My heart stopped; he was gorgeous! Tall, athletic, funny; he had it all. I was eager to get his attention, but instead I admired him from afar. I was too focused on my studies to be concerned with boys, anyway. When Jacob missed three days of class, I volunteered to help him catch up on the material; I couldn't have imagined a better opportunity to impress him. I liked him so much, and academics were my strong suit. Over the next few months, Jacob continued to ask me for help in various subjects, and I was happy to help. I genuinely cared about his well being and I relished every second that I held his attention.
But eventually, Jacob began to ask for more than just help. Sometimes he would ask to copy my assignments if he didn’t feel like doing them, or wanted me to photocopy my homework questions so he wouldn't have to do them. I was honoured that a boy as gorgeous and popular as him even knew my name, so I did almost everything he asked me to. Eventually he even began to confide in me, asking me for advice on career paths and girls. I thought that I was impressing him with my willingness to help others and my intellect, and I couldn't wait for him to ask me out. I was elated that he thought I was far enough removed from the cafeteria gossip to confide in.
But by the end of grade ten, not only did Jacob never ask me out, I began to realize that he never really cared about me as a friend, only a service. I worked so hard to try to impress him, but all I did was give him a way to forgo his English homework. I felt used, and my self-worth plummeted. I had poured two years of energy into someone who didn't even care about me as a friend, even standing me up when I was supposed to help him study for an exam. I let Jacob walk all over me, thinking it would make me seem like a “cool” or “chill” girl. I felt like a disgrace; I reduced my worth to my academic performance, which began to plummet due to stress. I felt like a shell of my old self after pouring so much energy into someone else.
I am still learning to rebuild myself. I am learning to surround myself with people who value me, and to spend my energy on things that make me happy and make me a better person. I am beginning to detach my self worth from Jacob, as well as my academics. I now realize that I am valuable. My energy is precious, and it is my responsibility to take control of the way others treat me and the way I treat myself. My well being must be a top priority. I am beginning to see myself in a way I never would have been able to if I didn’t spend two years wrapped up in Jacob.
In the end, I learned more from my months wearing rose-tinted glasses than I ever could have taught Jacob from a textbook.