Oh, What If

The other day I talked for two and a half hours with this really cute radical Asian guy from California. Over Zoom, we chatted about what got us into leftist frameworks, discrimination in the dating scene, and whether it felt possible to create meaningful justice-oriented change in academia. I liked our conversation a lot. While I tend to be outgoing and energetic in conversations, he had a chill and mellow vibe I found refreshing. The somewhat unfortunate news: he’s straight.

I am letting myself feel sad about his straightness. I recognize that even if he were not straight, we had literally one conversation which may not have turned into anything anyway. But this California guy stood out to me. One of my previous crushes was radical yet not emotionally available or mature, and another was more emotionally available yet not that radical. California guy seemed to have both, the radical social justice leaning and the emotional availability. I feel a little sad about not getting to know him in a romantic way.

Over the past few years, I have gotten a lot better about giving myself space to feel sadness. In the past I often minimized or deflected or redirected that emotion into anger because I perceived sadness as unproductive. But now I’m letting myself feel sad, like by listening to “Don’t Know What to Do” by BlackPink and “No Tears Left to Cry” by Ariana Grande on my jogs, as well as through blogging about my sadness and talking about it with friends. I’m giving myself some space to dream about the what ifs: what if California guy had actually played for my team? What if I grew up in an era where more men were both into social justice and emotionally available, an era without homophobia delaying queer men’s development and racism plaguing the queer community in general? What if I hadn’t been attracted to men in the first place, and didn’t have to write so many posts in which my 1.5 blog readers witness me wringing my hands in frustration over male romantic mediocrity?

such a lonely lovely road picture

Speaking of being attracted to men, I just finished this gorgeous novel Such a Lonely, Lovely Road by Kagiso Lesego Molope and loved pretty much every second of it. Even if my life is devoid of romance I’m happy to read about it especially between two Black men! I’m gonna post my review on Goodreads soon so you can check me out there for additional thoughts. Image via @mawenzihouse via Twitter.

Similar to Jude at the end of A Little Life, I also think about the reverse what ifs: what if I hadn’t read Appetites by Caroline Knapp six years ago, which launched my journey into greater self-reflection and passion for social justice, motivated me to go to therapy, and encouraged me to build my own happiness in life? What if I hadn’t encountered my amazing therapist in undergrad, who guided me to guide myself through my PTSD? What if I had started undergrad a year earlier or a year later and hadn’t met my two current closest friends, women who inspire me to be independent, loving, and oriented toward social justice? Even writing this all out, I feel my sadness intertwine with some joy, about having lived a life aligned with my values, full of connection to myself and with friends and community, including this blog.

So here I am, writing this post on a sunny Sunday morning right after a tennis match and right before a quick jog before I talk with friends throughout the day. Maybe in the future I’ll encounter the queer version of California guy – a more or less mellow man of color who’s into social justice and critical thinking and emotional availability. The fortunate news is that whether this man manifests or not, I’m great and my life is full and complete. I give myself space to honor the what ifs, the sadness and all. Then, I keep moving.

heather crazy ex girlfriend i want drama

One of my closest friends sent me this still of Heather from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and honestly relatable. Like my life is so joyous right now so part of me wonders if I just projected some potential romantic fantasy onto this harmless straight man so I could have something to write about? Anyway, at least my relationship with myself and my relationships with others are healthy. If anyone has recs for good media with solid interpersona/intrapersonal drama elements lmk though! 

How do you cope or process the “what ifs” in your life, or what are some of those what ifs? How do you make space for sadness and other negative emotions without letting them overwhelm you? General reactions to this post? Hope y’all are doing well and until next time!



Filed under Personal

10 responses to “Oh, What If

  1. There’s a few straight folks I would have wanted to be on my team. After reading that this new guy was straight, I was sure you were going to serenade him with songs from Ariana Grande and Black Pink and voila – you’ve convinced him to join your team.

    I’m also fighting the urge to rip the plastic off the base of your monitor and straighten out that yellow sticky note.

    Also… 1.5 readers? hahaha… now I’m gonna be up all night wondering if I’m the “1” or the “.5”.

    Have a great week!

    • Hahaha after talking with this guy a couple of times I don’t think I’m into him enough to serenade him with BlackPink and Ariana, though maybe my next actual crush I will! Also that is my friend’s monitor I can pass on that message re: the plastic. (: You can be both the 1 and the .5 because you mean so much to me! Hope your past couple of weeks have gone well.

  2. Ah, yess. But I also always think about St. Theresa’s comment that “there have been more tears shed over answered prayers than over those that went unheeded.” I know it’s kind of gross for me to talk like that because I have gotten all the things in life, almost, that I wished for. But the ones that have eluded me, well, I like to think those are the answered prayers I dodged.

    • Awww that’s a different perspective which I appreciate! There are definitely a couple of relationships that have ended where at that time I felt sad about them ending, though now I’m so glad they did. I guess in addition to this perspective I also feel like for all the things that didn’t go my way, I’ve managed to persevere and find joy despite them. So glad to hear from you and hope you’re doing as well as possible!

  3. That is so disappointing for you to find out California guy is straight. I guess it’s better to have talked to him rather than not talked to him at all – after all, it seemed like the two of you had a great conversation over Zoom. I try to move on quickly from ‘What ifs’ in general because if I don’t, I know I’d dwell on the situation for a long time and it can then be hard for me to move on. I rather let myself be disappointed, tell myself it wasn’t that a bad moment and then move on.

    • Aw thank you for your solidarity in my feelings Mabel! Yeah who knows, California guy can be an acquaintance/friend and who knows maybe an even more iconic queer Asian man will emerge at some point – and if not I’ll still be living my best life. Your approach makes sense to me, giving yourself some space to feel disappointed and then to move forward after honoring your feelings.

  4. Wah for the straightness, how disappointing! But a new friend, right? Who might have other friends … I try not to what if but I did wish the other day Mr Liz was more with my on my journey going deeper into BLM activism stuff (I did some keyboard warrioring today against racist attitudes and he was worried, I do get that, but he won’t read AllTheBooks but did remind me he read Girl. Woman, Other …) Anyway, that book looks amazing and I’m sad it’s v expensive here and pretty dear on Kindle, and I might just be too mean to get it on Kindle. And am I the one or the half of your readers? Which?!

    • Hahaha @ his other friends, perhaps! That makes sense to wish that he was going deeper into BLM activism stuff, at the same time I’m so glad you’re continuing to deepen your journey and to stay committed to your journey! Ugh I ended up getting the book on Kindle because even though I’m trying to divest from Amazon the Kindle option was the only one I could find, alas. And as I replied to Matt you can also be both the one and the half reader because you mean so much to me and I’ve appreciated our blogging bond for so long now! (:

  5. Ah, A Little Life! Another one that I hope to read somewhat soon.

    Making peace with “what if”s is hard, but this lesson came up for me recently in an app and linked it to radical acceptance (which I admittedly have a hard time with, especially for things that I mentally perceive as “failures”). But I think you do a fantastic job of letting that moment/emotion live, but also recognizing the things around you: you’re okay, you have great personal relationships, and sometimes sexualities aren’t going to match up but platonic relationships are deeply important, too! To see/read you wrestle with these thoughts processes have honestly helped me think through my own process of acceptance, too.

    As for a media rec, I recently caught up watching This Is Us (streaming on Hulu if you have it!), which admittedly leans straight/hetero-normative, but I think does a good job in trying to examine different and complicated family relationships (one of the larger factors, but thankfully not presented as an “issue”, is that the third triplet of the family is adopted and Black, and wrestling with how to explain that identity while realizing that they’ll never understand as white parents.) It made me think a lot about intergenerational trauma/experiences, and trying to break cycles!

    • Yesssss I’d so highly recommend A Little Life! It’s intense and has a lot of trauma that’s described in-depth so prep yourself for that or at least know that content will be there before going in. I love that novel and would be curious about your thoughts on it.

      Awww thank you for letting me know that reading me wrestle with these thought processes has been helpful for you, that means a lot. I appreciate you reflecting my own thought process back to me, seeing it laid out that way is comforting and helps me acknowledge the work I have done to get to a pretty emotionally sophisticated place with it all (e.g., letting the emotion live while also maintaining purpose and momentum and gratitude in my life).

      Thank you for the TV rec. I watched the first season of This is Us awhile ago and thought it was pretty average, though your rec does motivate me slightly more to try it out some time in the future. Anyway, thinking of you and hope you’re doing as well as possible!

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