My current crush fell in love with another man last fall. We agreed to stop talking a couple of weeks ago, so he could have space to figure his life out. Who knows if he will reach out again. I spent a lot of last week sad about this, listening to melodramatic Ariana Grande and Jason Derulo songs and posting angsty selfies on Snapchat. On top of that, I felt that one of my friends had not been putting as much effort into our friendship as I had, and when I expressed this, she did not react well. I also waited to hear back from an internship I wanted yet received no word about. To describe my emotions with great eloquence: everything sucked.
Two Tuesday nights ago, as I moped about V – my crush who said he also had a crush on me and also fell in love with someone else – I went to one of my weekly tennis leagues. In this league, I play three games back to back. I like it because tennis serves as a great way to release my rage at the patriarchy and also people who like Maroon 5 and the Chainsmokers exercise and meet people.
The first guy I played had this kinda hot toned body and a name that rhymes with Lick, so I will call him Lick, even though he will never read this blog just like no one reads this blog because it’s lame as f*ck lol ok bye. Our match started off pretty even, with both of us breaking each other’s serves and playing neck to neck at 2 games to 2. Then, he won the third game, and I said we should head back to the big group, because the person organizing our league said we should go back at 8:45, and the clock had just struck 8:45. Lick looked at me and said with this assertive tone that only a privileged white man could muster, “No, let’s keep playing,” and I said, in my more feminine and gentle voice, “it’s 8:45,” and he said, “Yeah that’s fine, let’s play another game,” in which I should’ve said, “I want to value the other players’ time so let’s head back” but instead I said “okay, that’s fine,” as I cursed myself for not standing my ground.
Lick whooped my butt that next game. Mind you, up until this point, I had moped and felt sad for myself the entire tennis match. For the first 45 minutes, this went down inside my brain:
Me, after serving an ace: even though my serve has been stable this whole match, it’s clear that V’s feelings for me aren’t stable, I def don’t have a chance, omg I’m so sad and mopey.
Me, after running across the entire court to return a dropshot and managing to win the point: the way I ran after that ball represents how V not wanting to talk means he’s running away from me because I expressed myself too forwardly in that one message I sent, omg my poor heart.
Me, after wiping a bead of sweat from my forehead after a long point: why can’t I just wipe away my attraction to men like I just wiped that bead of sweat off my forehead, omg why must I suffer so.
But, as Lick crushed me in that last game we played right after 8:45, I felt my sadness transform into something else. Somehow, the utter hopelessness of my tennis match started to shift my angst into anger. As Lick slammed a volley down the line way out of my reach, I thought to myself, wait, why the heck didn’t I just tell him that we should stop playing at 8:45? When he somehow started to return my lobs hit with tons of top spin, this anger toward Lick seeped into my feelings about the situation with V. I started thinking to myself, wait, why do I give a f*ck if a random man is going to message me back? Where the heck did I learn that my self-worth or my happiness should in any way be dependent on an unfortunately attractive, unfortunately accomplished man?
This slow-burning anger followed me into my next game, in which I also started off 2 games to 2 and then proceeded to lose. At this point, as I played yet another white man whose named rhymed with Lick, my thoughts traveled far from tennis and into the realm of rage at what messages I had internalized from the patriarchy. As I warmed up my serve, I think I might have even mumbled some of these feelings under my breath, like, “wait a freaking second Thomas, if V never messages me back and/or continues to fall in love with this other guy and/or trips and descends into a lava pit, me not being in his life is his loss? I’m a compassionate, relatively emotionally and intellectually intelligent, well-read guy who works to improve himself and my self-worth is in no way defined by if a man talks to me or not. In fact, I could redirect this time moping about V toward my friendships, research, mentoring, therapy, and preparing for Ariana Grande’s next album. V bye!”
Even though I lost a lot of tennis that night, I won back my self-respect and a radical acceptance that though I want V to talk to me when he feels ready, if he does not, I will still continue doing my best to promote compassion and social justice
and BlackPink and Ariana Grande despite Ari’s messy cultural appropriation lately. If my one friend who I felt like had not been putting enough effort into our friendship still does not want to put more effort into our friendship, I will keep investing in friendships where the energy feels reciprocal. I had let my sadness have its time. I felt ready to immerse myself in the righteous anger that would help topple what made me feel sad in the first place: the patriarchal notion that I should care if a man wants me or that I should over-compensate for a friend who may invest more in a man than me.
The day after that tennis league, I learned that I got accepted for my top choice internship, where I will get to provide individual and group psychotherapy at a community mental health clinic with an emphasis on LGBT and HIV/AIDS healthcare. Later that week I had a supportive conversation with a faculty member about some of the discrimination I have experienced in my professional life. The next week, I beat Lick, the first one, 7 games to 2, and he acted a lot nicer than before and I kinda like him now. While I still feel hurt by some parts of my life – the racism I experience, the general devaluing of friendship in society, etc. – I let myself feel angry, and I have hope I can use that anger to change things for the better. Just like with the many games that comprise a single tennis match, life now feels rife with chances to recover. I feel excited to give myself some of those chances, just as I have given them to others.
This post is so weird and extra so just like, what are your reactions or feelings? To tennis, my hopeless crush on V, friends who you feel may not invest as much effort as you do, my general weirdness, etc.? Hope you are all well and see you next post!