Hey guys, wanna hear a positive rejection story? One that spans over a year full of regret and still ends as platonically and positively as Mako and Raleigh in Pacific Rim?
So, in September of 2017 (yikes, that was a while ago,) me and my awkward self were finally transitioning from working slavishly at a swing shift job (2pm - 11pm) into a normal human waking hours, first-shift job. I had been pursuing various film gigs prior to getting that swing shift job, but none of the ones in my area were very good or promising, so I had to shift careers and build my own capital in order to have control over my own destiny in the video/film industry in an ever-shifting market. (Still working on that, BTW.) This new swing shift job resulted in socially stunning me (more than is typical for a creative film type) for pretty much all of 2015 going into 2016 and becoming very depressed. I couldn’t hang out with my friends as much, and I began feeling very, very lonely. The people I worked with were nice at least, but my supervisor was an “ex-marine” who was never really deployed. (Hence my use of quotations.) I think he was only employed for security or something. He seemed to have an “Always The Bridesmaid, Never The Bride” kinda beef with the marines because of that, I think. He mostly put on an “ex-marines” front to shield his short/bald complex. Needless to say, it was a pretty bad year for me. I’d feel helpless a lot of the time in light of his abusive management tendencies, and second guess if I was right in leaving a competitive yet unrewarding passion career of mine for something more stable that would eventually allow me to afford more control over my dream job.
Anyway, in summer of 2016 I finally transferred into a day job where I sell and repair glasses. This means that I got my social time back, and was able to strengthen old friendships that had been weakening due to my lack of sociable time, and in 2017 I even got to meet new people that my friends had met since my absence from the social scene. But because it’s been well over a year since I had a healthy amount of social time I was now an awkward person on top of being an eccentric creative person.
SO I CRUSHED ON A WOMAN.
She was one of the new people I had been getting to know through my old friends. I don’t remember when we first met. I honestly could have met her before transferring jobs during one of those scant few moments where I fought to have enough time off from work to talk to people but have completely forgotten because of how constantly tired I was. (I later learned that this had happened more that a couple times with other people. I found myself “meeting” people who already had introduced themselves to me before.) But I definitely remember “officially” meeting this person at a 4th of July party in 2017 at my friend’s house and really liking her.
Now, I’ve always been very shy about these things, and to top it all off I’m now this awkward person trying to recover from being socially stunned for well over a year. PLUS, this person is super attractive, and apparently had always been haunted by guy issues as a result. She had only recently become a Christian and had gone to seminary, which is apparently where awkward guys with weird, culturally retarded ideas of dating (or “courtship,” as they like to call it) reign supreme. After graduation she thought that she had gotten away from that weird sub-sect of Jesus otaku and was now scott free! (Let me be clear, I use the term “Jesus otaku” to mark a difference between normal, well-meaning Christians and puritanical religious fetishists who like nice things being said about a vaguely held understanding of God.) I also later found out that she was going through a lot of family issues at the time and was stressed over preparing for mission work across the ocean, and it just wasn’t a good time for-... AND HERE I COME WITH MY AWKWARD, UNWITTING SELF!!!!
I asked her out over text, and I remember it feeling so awkward that I honestly don’t want to go back through the chat log and prove exactly how awkward I may or may not have been at the time. But she turned me down in blunt, matter-of-fact, no-nonsense terms. I thanked her for at least hearing me out, said I still wanted to be friends with her if that was cool, and kinda lay awake in bed for most of the night. I think she might have also brushed me off on the whole friendship part over text, too. Again, I don’t want to go back and check only to be slapped in the face with me possibly being really cringe-y.
Aaaaaaaaaanyway, she goes off overseas to tell people about Jesus, and I just kinda sit on my butt, only getting up to kick it every so often for potentially being a nuisance. But I eventually got over it that week and went on with my life. I figured that at least I got something that I felt was important off my chest and that I could now try to go about life normally, focusing on my dreams of maybe building enough capital to make my own film gigs one day. She’s in another part of the world anyway, it’s not like I have to deal with her anytime soon. That could get awkward.
And then she comes back to the States a year later.
Back in my group of friends.
Back into my life.
Oh, shit! My friends are inviting me over to events she’s also invited to!
She doesn’t seem to want to talk to me anymore!
She seems to be actively avoiding me!
And it’s not like I just can’t show up to these events! I’ve made friends with her friends while she’s away, and we all like doing the same things and spending time together and-...
FUCK, I CAN’T EVEN GET “FRIEND-ZONED*” PROPERLY!!!
So I nonchalantly meantioned to a mutual friend that I haven’t heard much from this person since her return to the States, and that’s when I find out that, just before going on her missions trip, she told my other friends about me asking her out via text and that it really, really bothered her. Upon telling me this, my friend was quick to reassure me that it wasn’t anything I did, that I didn't do anything wrong, and that I’m actually a pretty great guy and shouldn’t feel bad about it.
Like, I honestly trust my friends to call me out for being an asshole in that situation if I deserved it, and he didn’t call me out, so that’s good! But....
Yeah, I kinda just went back to laying awake in the bed most of that night, kicking my butt every so often for being such a nuisance. Worse yet, they know about it! Other people know! How have they been seeing me this whole time if my actions were apparently bad enough to warn other people of my existence?????
I tend to take shelter in self-pity sometimes, if that makes sense, but I try to never stay there. It’s okay to feel bad for yourself. Sometimes, in that initial moment of being hurt, you’re the only one who’s there to hug yourself and tell you that it’ll be alright. But it’s not okay to let that sense of pity become a part of you. Cry, eat a jug of ice cream, throw yourself the biggest pity party you can for a night, and the move on with your life.
But I couldn’t let this get weird social hiccup get in my way either. I’m still going to social gatherings I’m invited to, and I’ll be hella polite if she’s there, and try to join in on group conversations and stuff. I’m exactly one year less awkward now than when she left, and I’m gonna meet up and have fun with everyone else, even if it means having to have fun with her too. I even invited her to social gatherings that I was hosting after a while, just to show that there weren’t any hard feelings. And she actually accepted the invitations!
I think she also realized that she didn’t handle rejecting me that well, because after a few social events and we started talking to each other more and more, she eventually became comfortable being friends with me and apologized for how she treated me back then, and actually appreciated that we could still be friends. She explained to me the difficult times she was going through back in 2017 and how my text had inadvertently become the straw that broke the camel's back, and she finally snapped. I told her that I understood where she was coming from and that I didn’t remember her texts being as abrasive as she seems to remember them being. (She was describing emotions that did not come across in those texts.) As it turns out, it was a good thing I texted when I asked her out, because if I had done that in person she would have not had the time to calm down and respond more properly.
She’s dating someone else now, while also dealing with another actual, honest-to-God Jesus otaku creep that doesn’t want to recognize the fact that she’s dating someone else right now. So me and my friends get to help her navigate her way through that. Outside of that bit of weirdness, we still have fun and I’m truly glad I can actually be friends with her. I honestly can’t wait to meet this person she’s dating.
Moral of the story? I dunno, be sad but don’t wallow endlessly in your own pity? Sometimes the “Friend-Zone*” is worth the effort to get there? Who knows, but I’m in a good place right now. I feel like I finally have closure on something that needed it.
* “Friend-Zone” is just another term for “being friends,” and that’s still one of the greatest relationships a human being could ever have with someone else. Cherish your friends and don’t complain about the fact that you’re “only friends.” That’ll only weaken the relationship you already have and make everyone involved very sad.