Annie Taylor is a writer, comedian and lady about town currently living in Chicago. Join her adventures on Twitter and Instagram @AnnieDillz.By Annie Taylor
For as long as I can remember – and I remember my third birthday party because I didn’t know what was happening and burst into the party bare-ass naked – I’ve been “boy” crazy. At the ripe age of 27, I have begun to really examine my infatuation with this creature that I clearly understand nothing about. For the record, I will refer to them as boys throughout this piece, because the only men I have ever met are either married or simply boys in men’s clothing.
Since the day I took my first step, I’ve been chasing boys. I have spent so much time and energy chasing them that I am, quite frankly, disappointed that I am not in better shape. I could recount my elementary school days by naming the boy in each grade who didn’t love me back. I won’t bore you with the anthology, but I will share some honorable mentions:
When I got to middle school, the tides turned. Somehow I became a “Cool Kid” (I ditched the thumb sucking the summer between 5th and 6th grade), and things changed. My chasing finally paid off, and I got myself a boyfriend. For the first time, I experienced what it was like to have my expressions of love returned. He showered me with attention, we talked on the phone every night, then would write notes to each other after we’d get off the phone (what the hell could we possibly have had to say to each other?) and I felt complete, validated. Little did I know, there was another girl who was vying for my man. I heard one day that I was #1 on her “People I would like to kill list.” He and I eventually broke up for other reasons, mainly because we were 13, and years later he would go on to marry that girl who wanted me dead. Maybe not all is fair in love and war, but it was at that point that I realized I don’t understand a thing about either.
When I got to high school, the story changed again. For whatever reason, boys wanted to date me, and I guess was in the mood to break some hearts. I never really got excited about anyone but had a string of relationships that fizzled out when I realized the boy wasn’t perfect, and it was on to the next one. This experience further solidified my need and love for male attention, even if it wasn’t from someone I truly loved. This would start a long, hard-to-break pattern of putting boys first and putting my energy toward the chase rather than developing friendships, passions and my sense of self. I would sacrifice almost anything to make a boy happy, including my own happiness, even when I wasn’t crazy about him. But god forbid he wasn’t crazy about me.
You see, what I have learned is that there is a broad spectrum of being unavailable, available and too available. I have always been, without exception, “too available.” This is the only way I knew how to let somebody love me. To give it all up and let them decide what to do with it. My first real, and really only, long-term relationship turned out to be extremely emotionally abusive. While I don’t blame myself, I attribute a lot of the pain and suffering to my need to please and the desire to be loved by someone. Anyone. When I met a boy who knew what he wanted and was determined to get it, I was not prepared to fight for myself. He was manipulative, kind, angry and loving, and he sucked the life right out of me. I made a decision to leave and he found a thousand ways to make me stay. Eventually, following a visit to the police station, I broke free, but I had already lost so much of myself, most notably my voice, my worth and my trust. I was finally forced to meet the consequences of serving someone else before taking care of myself.
Since the end of that relationship, I have grown immensely. I continue to struggle with the need for male attention and the ever-apparent need to be my own source of worth, but I have started to put my energy toward more productive relationships and activities.
I have never been the center of my universe, but that is shifting. One of the best things I ever did for myself was to move to Chicago. It was one of the first decisions I ever really made with my own interests in mind. When I love, I love hard, and I’ve always spent all that love on the boys. When I moved, I made a commitment to build a community of people beyond the dependency of a romantic relationship. To do things that would enhance my experience, not the experience of whatever boy I was chasing at the moment. I am proud (and thankful) to say that I have done just that. They say it is difficult to make friends as an adult – and while I agree, it is far from impossible – especially with all the free time I have since I stopped chasing boys like I’m training for the Olympics. I have found a group of people who love and support me and challenge me to be bigger. To take better care of myself. They also say boys & girls can’t be just friends, which is also an old wives tale I am clearly shattering (OK, I am still the queen of trying to fall in love with my male friends, but given time, I get over it and become a really great friend. Be patient with me.)
Don’t get me wrong, I still love the shit out of dudes, but I have had my fair share of ridiculous experiences being single in the Second City that simply solidified the need for me to shift my energy (most notably the guy who couldn’t hang out because he was having an existential crisis, and most recently the guy who cried on our first date, then told me I was going to get raped while online dating.). And every time I state my needs and scare a boy away, I give myself a high-five because it means that I’m getting my voice back.
This year, I am moving into my own apartment for the first time and I am thankful to finally have some time alone. In the New Year, I intend on exercising my brain, learning to play the banjo, reading the 250 books I own that I’ve never cracked open, practicing my dance moves (not that they need much help) and most importantly, cultivating the relationships that never make me chase them. It’s time to wake up and feel the love.