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In my typical fashion, I had spun big dreams out of nothing. It was the spring of 2018, and I had big summer plans to get my life in order, as if it were as simple as crossing items off a list. To kick off our senior year of college, my friends and I were going to spend every free second together—plus, I’d finish revising my book, find the perfect grad school, and, who knew, maybe finally get into a relationship. If I’m honest, I was still using that last one to make or break my self-worth, as if dating someone were a big validating checkmark.

Maybe it was something in the spring air, but as April rolled around, it seemed like the perfect time to start crushing on a guy I’d known for a while. I pictured myself mustering up the courage to drive an hour and a half on the interstate to meet him halfway for a date. I pictured trips to the beach set to the classic rock we both loved. Can you say #summergoals?

In retrospect, even as I felt my eyes lingering on him too long every time our paths crossed, I knew a relationship probably wasn’t in the cards for us. I had a year left in college; he was graduating that May. The aforementioned interstate was a long one, and that was if he didn’t get a job all the way on the West Coast. Our personalities were also polar opposites.

But he was single, his goofiness was charming and his eyes swimmable, and his voice softened when it was just the two of us. Sure, he had a habit of not texting back, but he helped me move out of my dorm. At least that was a sign I didn’t repulse him, right?

After many agonizing hours of weighing my contradictory thoughts, after writing out countless drafts of what I wanted to say so as not to come off too strong, I decided it would be much better to take a risk than to keep questioning what could have happened between us.

I wrote him the riskiest text of my life, and pressed send.

For the next three hours, I avoided my phone, afraid of what he would say, now that he knew. I’d put this confession out into the universe and onto his phone, and I couldn’t take it back.

The first night passed. He’s definitely busy. I get it. He’s with people and he doesn’t want to be on his phone.

The second day. Continual silence. I know it’s pathetic, but I cried at the next love song I heard.

The third, fourth, and fifth days all slid past. I vented to my friends, who assured me I deserved better than someone who couldn’t even acknowledge a compliment. Even I was in disbelief as my feelings quickly changed. Only a few days prior, my stomach churned, my heart skipped, and my hands shook over a guy who might’ve been older than me but who was clearly still a boy.

Okay, he’s not interested. Can’t he just say so?

But he never did. Sure, I was disappointed at the time, and annoyed that we stopped talking without any closure. It sucked to have our friendship reduced to awkward Facebook interactions just because I was honest. But the passing months, and now years, have made me grateful for this experience.

It was much better for me to learn his true personality through watching how he received a simple compliment than invest fruitless months into a hypothetical relationship.

Even though telling him how I felt didn’t work out the way I’d thought I wanted, my self-confidence got a needed boost. I was honest with someone, and I found my own worth, free of anyone else’s validation. I deserved better than hanging onto silence. Really, the boost in my own feelings of self-worth from putting myself out there caused more growth than the relationship I thought I wanted.

Even though it wasn’t the way I’d originally planned, I achieved those summer goals and more.