When I was in high school there was a girl I had a few classes with. We’d known each other since middle school, but had never really gotten to know each other until the later years of high school. We became friends, and after a while she started doing things for me. She’d cook for me, bake for me, buy things for me, ask me to hang out, ect.
She’s tall and thin. I think she must be at least 5’8”. She has a heart-shaped face that I always thought reminded me of Kristen Dunst. (She hated it whenever I said that.) She’s half-Japanese, so she has a certain exotic look to her. People say she looks like she could be one of those Japanese models or something.
Eventually people started talking as if we were either going out, or were about to go out, and they weren’t subtle about it. I shrugged it off.
Her friends began asking me things like, “Do you like her?”
“I like her as a friend,” was my reply.
They’d say, “But do you like her, like her?”
At that point I’d say something like, “She’s a good friend, and blah blah blah.” I didn’t like her as anything more, but I was trying to be nice/subtle/diplomatic/Asian* about it.
*Asian culture has this thing where you’re not supposed to be direct about things. More about that some other time.
This went on for a while. She’d continue to do things for me, and her friends would continue to say things like:
– “She’s pretty, don’t you think?”
– “You guys are friends, so why not something more?”
– “You should ask her to homecoming/prom/whatever.”
– Or simply, “She wants you to ask her out.”
Even my parents liked her. My mom would say –
Wait. When you imagine my mom’s voice, you have to imagine a high-pitched, shrilly, squeaky voice. (“I do not talk like that!” says my mom whenever my siblings and I make fun of her. But she does.) Ready? Let’s try this again.
My mom would say, “She’s a nice girl, and she’s gorgeous! Don’t you like her?”
To me, “gorgeous” is synonymous with “beautiful.” Is she pretty? Sure. But beautiful? Hold on there.
My mom is the last person I’d talk to about girls, so I shrugged and murmured my usual, “I like her as a friend.” (This was getting really old.) She continued. “Stop being so picky. Someday a girl is going to come along and break your heart!”
Thanks, mom. Something to look forward to!
Apparently my mom thought I was a big jerk for not going out with this girl. But it’s not like I led her on. I gave her no indication that I was at all interested. I did nothing intentional to try to get her to like me. How am I supposed to go out with someone I don’t like?
This went on for a while. I’d be nice to her, she’d do things for me, people would continue to talk to me about her, we’d hang out as friends, but nothing more, and her and her friends kept wondering why I wasn’t interested.
One day I saw her in the hallway holding hands with a guy we were friends with. I thought it was strange, since he never seemed like the type of guy she’d go for. In fact, I knew she didn’t like him, and I thought they were holding hands as part of some weird game or something. Later I realized it was an attempt to get me jealous, but at the moment I thought, “Well that’s strange,” and went on with my day. You can’t make someone jealous when there’s nothing to be jealous about.
Her and her friends really pulled out all the stops to try to get me to ask her out. They tried every trick in the book. I admire her tenacity. I was flattered by the extent she went to. I’ve never had any other girl do so much just to try to get my attention. A lot of guys would give a lot to be with a girl like her. I felt kind of bad in a way. She picked the one guy – the one weird guy – who just wasn’t interested. I didn’t feel too bad though, since I knew she would have no problem finding someone else.
Her and her friends kept trying to figure out why I didn’t like her.
They thought, “Maybe he doesn’t want to have a girlfriend right now so he can focus on school.”
Nope. Never cared much about school. Besides, I don’t see any reason why you can’t focus on something and do other things at the same time.
“Maybe his parents don’t want him to be distracted from school and baseball and things.”
Like I said, they actually wanted me to go out with her, so that wasn’t it.
“Maybe he likes someone else.”
That really had nothing to do with it.
And finally, after they had exhausted the other possibilities, they thought, “Maybe he’s gay.”
They never figured out the real reason why I was never interested.
Finally one of her guy friends came to talk to me.
“She likes you,” he said. “She just wants to give it a try.”
Try? What is there to try? I don’t need to stick my hand in a fire to know that it’s hot. Sometimes you need to try something to see if it’ll work. But other times you just know when it isn’t right.
“You don’t like her as more than a friend?”
“No,” I replied.
“Not even a little?”
“Not even a little.”
“I don’t know. I just don’t.”
Back then I knew I didn’t like her, I just didn’t know how to explain it. But I’m older now, so it’s easier to understand.
You see, her and I have nothing in common. We went to the same high school, we’re both kinda tall, and we’re both part Japanese (and there were only around 5 Japanese people in our entire school) so people thought we’d be a good match. But those things are trivial.
Her idea of a good time is going to a bar or party or club or something. I don’t drink. I think alcohol tastes terrible. It smells terrible. It isn’t appealing to me in any way, and neither are girls who drink. So what was I supposed to do while she’s doing those things? Did she really expect me to follow her around to those places?
She likes drinking. I like chasing dreams. She likes going to parties. I like making plans to change the world. She likes getting wasted. I have so many hobbies, interests, and ambitions that I don’t think I could ever get wasted, because I’d never want to waste my time.
One time I said to her, “Look at that cloud! It looks like a turtle.”
Her reply was, “You’re stupid.”
The fact that she called me stupid didn’t offend me at all. Friends can do that. What she said wasn’t important. I didn’t care if she had thought it looked like a dragon, or a penguin, if she had called it a visible mass of H2O, or if she had thought it was simply a beautiful cloud. She didn’t have to say anything at all. I’m not insensible enough to put much stock into any one thing a person says, but after having known her for a while, it confirmed what I already knew: that we are different in every possible way. It was a perfect example of why I could never be with her. I look up and see amazing things. She looks up and sees nothing but clouds. I look at the world around me and feel an insatiable desire to make a difference. She looks at the world and sees just a place to live.
It’s been years since then. We’re still friends, she has a boyfriend, but I never talk about other girls around her. If I so much as mention another girl in any context, she gets moody and will make some kind of comment, like…
“I think you like ugly girls. Don’t you?”
“Well not really ugly, but plain girls. You like plain girls. Right?”
Woah. Wait. You can call me ugly or plain. But you can’t say that about the girls I like. I take offense on their behalf.
“Not plain…but you don’t like pretty girls, right? You don’t like girly-girls?”
She was trying to figure out why I never liked her. To this day, she doesn’t know the real reason. It has nothing to do with the way she looks.
People say she’s pretty, but she doesn’t look too pretty to me when she drinks or swears, and I don’t think she’s pretty at all when she’s inebriated. It seems like every picture I see of her includes alcohol in some way. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think that was the most important thing in her life.
She was right about one thing though. I don’t like pretty girls. I like beautiful girls.
There’s no such thing as a girl who isn’t pretty. You could show me any given girl and I bet I could identify at least one trait about her that I think is pretty.
Beauty, on the other hand, is entirely different. Some people call model girls “beautiful.” But I don’t see it. I never have. Beautiful is not a word I toss around carelessly. People who look with just their eyes miss out on some of the best things the world has to offer. Beauty is felt with the heart. It comes from the soul.
That girl did a lot of nice things for me. I appreciate the effort, but ultimately it didn’t matter. It isn’t about what I can do for someone, or what someone can do for me. It’s about what we can do together. That’s what I think a relationship is supposed to be.
Do opposites attract? Or is it better to have a lot in common? I say both. It has to be a mix of the two. If you’re too similar you won’t be able to support each other in your weaker areas, and in the long run you might just be too similar to get along. But if you’re too different, you won’t have enough in common to want to do things together.
I think it’s important to have a common passion. You don’t have to like all the same things – actually, it’d be weird if you did – you just have common values.
The one thing your common passion shouldn’t be, though, is each other. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to be passionate about one another, but if that’s your only common passion, eventually you’ll find something wrong with each other, something you just don’t like, and all of a sudden the passion subsides. But when you are passionate about common values you are able to work through your differences not for the sake of maintaining your relationship, but because there’s no one else you’d rather be with.
It isn’t that this girl I knew in high school wasn’t good enough for me. It’s just that she wasn’t meant for me. And I wasn’t meant for her. I guess I’m the only person to have seen that.
My mom said I was being too picky. But I’d rather be alone than be with someone if it means taking me away from the things I was meant to do. It’s not that I expect to be with someone who is really great. Just someone who is great for me. And if I’m great for her, then perhaps we might achieve great things together. And if it can’t be like that, I might be better off on my own. I can’t let anyone or anything get in the way of the things I was meant to do.
Let’s pretend for a moment that I had gone out with that girl. Putting aside the fact that I would have been unhappy, it would have been unfruitful. I would have been tied down to things I was not meant to do, in places I was not meant to be, with people I was not meant to be with. She would’ve been unhappy that I was unhappy, and it just never could have worked. The way I see it, I saved the both of us a lot of trouble.
I don’t think this girl put much thought into it before deciding she liked me. I think she decided she wanted a boyfriend, thought, “Hey, here’s this guy I know at school,” decided I met her criteria, and boom, she liked me. She didn’t think about whether we had a connection or not, whether we were similar at all, whether we’d be a good fit, and most importantly, whether we were meant to be.
She is still a good friend of mine. But we were never meant to be anything more.
Would you rather travel down a road you weren’t meant to take, or travel alone? When you travel alone, someone might just join you when you least expect it. But if you’re on a different path entirely, you might be missing out.
I’m not saying you have to wait for the one person you are going to spend the rest of your life with. Let’s face it: you could be waiting a long time. All I’m saying is the best things are not always what’s right in front of you.
Our minds can play tricks on us. Our hearts can mislead us. You can convince yourself to like someone you really don’t belong with. But if you ask yourselves why you want to be with them – Is it because of their looks or things they do for you? Is it because of some sort of prestige you have associated with them? Is it because other people think you should? Or is it because you don’t want to be alone? – and if you’re unafraid to admit to the possibility that maybe this person really isn’t meant for you, then the answers become quite clear.
If something is meant to be it can never really be lost, just postponed, meaning, even if you make mistakes and travel down other paths, you will eventually find yourself with whoever you’re meant to be with. But when you do that you put yourself through a lot of trouble, you waste a lot of time, and you might postpone the very things that you were looking for in the first place. I’d rather be with someone who was meant for me, even if it means waiting a little longer, than be with someone I’m not meant for.
Patience is not one of my strong points, and I’m not always so insightful. Like everyone, sometimes I travel down roads I’m not meant to take. It just so happened that with that girl the signs were lined up so clearly that I saw there was no point in a potential relationship.
You should never worry about ending up alone, because if you desire companionship, it will come to you someday. I think people who stay single their entire lives are people who never cared about it much to begin with, so it doesn’t really matter to them. When you want something for the right reasons, love will find a way. It may not be with the person you thought it would be with, it may come from unforeseen sources in unexpected times, but it will come to you, someday. I truly believe that for every heart there is a heart out there waiting for you, even if they haven’t met you yet. But if you jump at the first available opportunity, the first person who comes along you think you might like, then the right person for you might walk right on by, and you may never even notice.
So if you’re alone today, don’t worry about it. Be glad that you aren’t traveling down a road not meant for you. Instead of being in a meaningless relationship, you have the opportunity to find someone that you were really meant to share things with.
And if you’re not alone, well… forget you! Just kidding. If you’re with someone you were meant to be with, then good for you.
I’m Rob Kajiwara. Happy Valentine’s Day. Thanks for reading.