I have a crush on a writer.
This is not news. I have a crush on someone most of the time. Writers, musicians, TV hosts, the odd actor.
It has happened for me since my early teens. For me, not to me. And I only realized this recently.
Falling for you
The way I see it, the main characteristic in a crush is a perceived lack of agency over whom we have The Feels for.
In this sense, most of the love people think they feel is in fact just a crush. They find themselves unable to turn off their feelings for someone until they are rejected outright, are ghosted, the relationship turns sour, someone is betrayed, they “drift apart” or concede irreconcilable differences.
Having a crush can be beautiful. Floating on a bed of lilies under the stars, orange glowy light shining out of every pore — when it’s mutual. Sometimes though, it simply isn’t what we were planning on doing right now. The feeling isn’t reciprocated. The Crush lives somewhere else. We haven’t even met them before. Then, it’s a burden. Thoughts constantly pulled towards them, obsessing. Uplifting and depressing at once.
A crush, like most feelings, gets stronger the more we fight it, the more we tell ourselves this is not what is supposed to be happening right now. Falling in love — the verb falling — implies that we have no choice in the matter.
We fall hopelessly in love.
We tend to ignore the fact that the more we try to control our emotions, the less in control we are.
The more energy we invest in Not Falling, the harder we crash.
Fighting something is giving it attention. Paying attention to something is giving it energy. Giving something energy makes it grow.
“Falling in love” is handing our emotional state and well-being over to a fantasy.
When I fall for someone I don’t know very well — the case for most crushes we have — I can only claim to love the parts of them I have seen. I am convinced nevertheless that I know enough, that these parts speak volumes about the rest of the person. I fail to acknowledge that I’m crushing on a product of my imagination.
I deny that I do not have enough information to love this person. The feeling of falling in love is so intoxicating — literally — that what I actually know is unimportant to me. My rational brain has no say in the matter. The narrative fallacy takes full hold, and I believe myself to be unconditionally, irrevocably in love with this person.
But I have a choice here.
I can look my fantasy squarely in the face and ask myself what my emotions are really telling me. What exactly do I hope to gain from a relationship with this person? Which aspects that I see are activating these feelings? Do I long for certain traits to complete parts of myself that I’ve rejected? Is it pure lust parading as love?
Or do I actually see myself in this person?
Where’s the gift?
When I fall in love, I fall in love with pure potential. What I failed to see until now is that it was my own the entire time.
I had an epiphany during a particularly agonizing crush-spell when I was seventeen (not that it helped in the years that followed):
When we fall in love, we are really falling in love with ourselves.
We project everything we believe about ourselves onto the other person. What we love about them is what we fail to appreciate in ourselves. What triggers us in them is what we have rejected in ourselves.
That handsome, dark-haired boy asking me ever so politely why I wasn’t playing with the others, always standing in the back, afraid to utter a word? He was really beckoning for me to stop caring about what I thought I should be, and just be.
The slightly obnoxious guy in the youth orchestra with the glint in his eye, carefree, smiling incessantly, making me laugh every time he opened his mouth? He was inviting me to acknowledge that my work equals my play, in everything serious there is also joy, and all words can become the silliest of jokes.
The writer dude I haven’t even met, publishing perfectly thought out, structured and almost poetic articles, seemingly always about the very question I have been pondering? He’s showing me that I’m getting there. I’m on the way. All the gentleness in his words, the careful self-awareness, conscious ambition and the steadfast, open-eyed faith in life are features I have been actively observing into being within myself. He’s the catalyst for prosperity I didn’t know I was looking for.
Every time I think about this guy, there is at first a slight pang of that old unworthiness: But I’m not good enough for him. I need to be better. I need to work harder on myself. Then it will happen. Then we’ll be together.
Now I realize what all that mental applauding, swooning, the longing for what I imagine his company to be like really is — an invitation.
To let go of longing for someone else and actively choose myself.
To know that if I am this drawn to someone like this, someone so kind, intelligent, self-aware and emotionally mature, I must have at least a fraction of those qualities in me.
To stop chasing ideals I will never achieve and adjust my mindset from goal to process-oriented.
To be here, now, exactly as I am, enough.
How fucking beautiful is that?
Do I still foster a tiny hope that we’ll end up together? Yeah.
But I know the feeling will pass. I trust that if what I think I want now shall happen, it will. I know that if I continue to grow my love for myself, allowing this crush and others to come fuel my self-awareness — a fantastic thing in itself — the person that befits this love will find me.
Our crushes — like all our relationships — are mirrors. But because crushes are based on fantasy over fact, they are all the more telling about what is going on within ourselves. We can discover ourselves in everything we believe our crush to be.
Take a look. You’ll see.