When I was about 15, I had a painfully powerful crush on a boy. I hoped against hope that he would think I was special, too. I orchestrated events to spend time with him, often using his sister as an excuse to be near him (not cool, I know). One of the biggest displays of my obsession was an Autumn Party that I threw that year.
My parents were so supportive – helping me find bales of hay to place around a campfire, setting up tables outside for snacks, suggesting things to do with my friends. I sent out hand-written invitations to teens I knew, using different acronyms that didn’t actually spell anything (R.C.A.Y.P. = Really Cool Autumn Youth Party. Obvy.). I felt so grown up!
Six of my friends RSVP’d – including my crush! I daydreamed and planned how this was going to be the day he would finally fall for me.
Cool and damp from a rain the night before, the day finally came. I set out “How many beans are in the jar?” on soggy paper next to a large jar for some outlandish guesses from friends. Toilet paper rolls were available for a wacky “How quickly can you use up a roll by wrapping it around someone?” game. I designated a starting line for the wheel barrel race.
People began to arrive and I froze. Suddenly the games were childish. The food wasn’t right. My crush was ignoring me and he even hurt my feelings with some careless words. I escaped into the house, panicked and unsure what to do. People were here, looking to me to host them but everything was wrong! I was unable to see past my wounded heart.
My parents, wanting to give me space with my friends, gently suggested I lead a game with the group. I was mortified at the suggestion and couldn’t even imagine these teens would want to do something so uncool, so silly.
Soon (painfully soon), two girls said, “Um. We’re going to go. Thanks for inviting us.” My insides were a swirl. I felt so unprepared and embarrassed and disappointed. I’d failed.
After that, more friends got bored and left. Soon only my parents were there. I’m sure they were at a loss and had sympathy for m. I’d talked about nothing but this party for weeks! My dad started the campfire and I sat quietly with them, my heart sore, relieved that I could let the adults take care of things now.
When you look back at those painful, awkward teen moments, what truths do you see about yourself? Can you extend compassion to your younger self?