Last March, as I imagine many people do every year, I made a list of summer goals. Over the coming months, I was going to get my life in order, as if it were as simple as crossing items off a list. My friends and I were going to spend every free second together, I’d finish revising my novel, find the perfect grad school, learn how to cook a few meals. In short, I’d push myself to do new things in new places.

And who knew, all of that might lead to getting into a relationship.

If I’m honest, I was still using the idea of a relationship to make or break my self-worth, as if dating someone were a big validating checkmark next to my existence.

So as the weather warmed, it seemed like perfect timing for me to start crushing on a guy I’d known for a while. In the name of doing new things, 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 imagined trips to the beach set to the classic rock we both loved. Can you say #summergoals? Or #summerdesperation?

In retrospect, I knew it would never work. I had a year left at the college he just graduated from. The aforementioned interstate would get in the way, and that was if he didn’t get a job across the country. Our personalities were kind of polar opposites.

But he was single, his goofiness was charming and his eyes swimmable, and his voice softened when it was just us. Why not take a chance?

After many agonizing hours of weighing my contradictory thoughts like opposite ends of a scale, 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 wondering 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 I couldn’t take it back.

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

The second day. Continual silence. It’s pathetic, but I cried when Jason Aldean’s “You Make it Easy” came on the radio.

Third, fourth, 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 that only a few days ago, 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.

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

Sure, I was disappointed at the time, and annoyed that we stopped talking without any closure. It sucked to lose a friend just because I was honest with him. But the passing months 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 after investing months into that hypothetical relationship. And I worked on myself so much in the intervening year.

I got into a gym routine. I strengthened friendships with people who actually uplifted me. Finally, I was growing into myself.

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. And through challenging myself to do something new and scary, I achieved one of my summer goals.