In second year University I had a very large crush on a boy named Jasper. That wasn’t his real name, but a) in the small chance he reads this article I don’t want to be that obvious about who he is, and b) I’ve always always wanted to be involved with someone named Jasper so this felt like a fun opportunity to pretend.
Anyway, Jasper was a year younger than me. I met him while I was a frosh leader & moving students into their first year dorms. He was cute and funny and had brought his bike with him to Uni which I thought was really hot.
I was extremely non-discrete about having a crush on him. I told everyone. I strategically put myself in situations I knew he’d be in. I approached him at the bar and asked him to dance.
Long story short, I had absolutely no game.
But it [kind of] seemed to work! He danced with me. He flirted with me. He responded to all my messages in a socially acceptable way. And because of this, I assumed we were going to date. Full on boyfriend/girlfriend ‘let’s make plans over Christmas break’ kind of date.
However, as all dreams do, this idea came crashing down on me while I was out for coffee with one of our mutual friends. After chatting about school and life and finishing a crossword puzzle, I shifted the convo to my favourite topic.
“So, what should I do about Jasper?” I asked. “Should I full on ask him out or what?”
“Yeah, here’s the thing” he said. “He likes you but said he’d never actually date you because you look like a horse.”
I was, quite literally, speechless.
I mean a) who was I supposed to make Christmas break plans with now? And more importantly b) I LOOKED LIKE A HORSE?!
I have no idea how that conversation ended. It was a weird, horsey blur and I ran home afterward to my best friend/roommate who was sitting in the living room with her boyfriend at the time.
“How was coffee?” she asked.
“DO I LOOK LIKE A HORSE??” I responded.
I was shocked and mortified and insanely offended. But as I stared myself down in the mirror until the wee hours of the morning, I realized that I kind of agreed with him. I did kind of look like a horse. When I really smiled – one of those give it your all laughing smiles – my gums were like, really, really there. And when I partnered that with my go-to hairstyle at the time – a ratty side-braid (read: horse tail??) I mean, I could kind of see it.
And this, THIS, was the worst part. Jasper not wanting to date me was the least of my problems because HOW THE ACTUAL FUCK was I supposed to succeed in life at all if I looked like a horse? I don’t remember crying myself to sleep but I probably did because that sounds like something I would do in that situation.
Somehow, I slowly but surely moved on. I graduated and got jobs and made friends and dated people despite my horse-resemblance. It took months (if not years), but I stopped thinking about it every time I smiled and stopped assuming that that was the first thing people thought of when they saw me. I pushed it to the back of my mind and recognized the fact that I was smart and kind and pretty; that I could overcome this setback and could probably succeed if I wanted to, horse-twinning aside.
So, I did. 8 years have passed and I somehow morphed into a fully-grown adult with a career and a double-bed and a daily vitamin. I learned to think about other things – my water intake. If wearing black & brown is appropriate. Why leaves don’t all turn the same colour yet all happen to match really well. I moved on, yes. But my horse-brain never fully went way.
I still think about it sometimes. I still talk about it sometimes. It just comes pouring out of my mouth every now and then because I’m still so insanely insecure that someone might be thinking it and I want to make it known that I’m aware; I know there’s a horse inside me. I got past it, but I never got over it. And like, I probably never will. Which sounds pretty depressing, but it’s actually kind of liberating. I mean, we all have our baggage. Relationships that have scarred us and fights that have hardened us and moments that have changed our entire outlook on life. THIS HAPPENS TO BE [one of] MINE. And in the end I feel pretty proud that i’ve managed to love life as much as I have despite being an animal.
So, I suppose my point(s) are as follows:
- IT’S WHAT’S INSIDE THAT COUNTS! May we never forget that. Someone’s horse is someone else’s unicorn, after all.
- May we all be careful what we say about each other because offhand comments can make someone really, really insecure for a long time. So, let’s be nice human beings.
- Jasper was kind of a dick