Just the other day I was at a reunion with my high school friends.
It’s been a while since we saw each other, and I was glad to see that my friends hadn’t changed much from high school. We had dinner, did a bit of catching up, then we got to talking about our first loves.
“I wonder how they’re doing now?” my friend Jessica asks.
It made me think. How was my first love doing?
I could never forget my first love, because that was where I experienced my first heartache. It’s not that he did anything bad. In fact, I was the one in the wrong.
His name was Jericho, and when I first met him, I thought that he was the most handsome man I had ever seen.
My friends persuaded me to try to win him over. I gave him my snacks, offered to help him with his homework, and did all sorts of favors.
It was all good until he developed his own crush. As you’ve guessed, the me from nearly 20 years ago did not take it well.
Now that I’m older, I realized it was a bit ridiculous to think that doing favors for someone meant they are yours. But I’m thankful that this happened to me.
This “betrayal” scarred me so much that I avoided doing any more favors just to be liked and appreciated. I started to put myself before others.
It was only then that I realized the importance of putting yourself first.
I ditched friends that weren’t weren’t making me a better person, and kept the ones that stayed true to me no matter what.
I spoke out whenever I was uncomfortable and drew boundaries when I needed my own space.
I didn’t have to chase after the validation of others either. I freed myself from the weight of expectations because quite frankly I didn’t care about what anyone thought of me.
Yes, I made mistakes along the way, but I learned to take responsibility and apologize. All of that because to this day, I feel terribly guilty about how I acted towards Jericho.
Jericho didn’t owe me his love. He was kind enough not to take advantage of me, but still it was wrong of me to assume he was obligated to return the affection and kindness I gave him. I did that on my own accord.
It might be silly to think that I learned all this because my crush didn’t like me back, but it really did make a big impact on me. I started to question what love really is because of it.
If you truly love someone, you don’t ask for anything in return. It’s why I learned how to carefully choose the people I give love to and not be taken advantage of.
I began to give as much love as I got. I matched the energy of the people I dated and didn’t go the extra mile to make them love me. So whenever I feel like I’m becoming a people pleaser, I tell myself:
“Don’t go through mountains for someone who wouldn’t cross the road for you.”