Words by Matthew Mendiola
GIFS from various Harry Potter films
I’ve always been enthralled by Paulo Coehlo’s The Alchemist, the story of how a shepherd boy travels long and far to the Pyramids of Giza in search of treasure, only to find in his quest a much more valuable treasure–Fatima, the love of his life. It’s a tale I wish could be real. Sometimes, I would daydream about being the shepherd boy, about finding the oasis in the midst of this desert.
As far as I could remember, my love life was zero, and I was fine keeping it that way. “Acads first” became my go-to excuse to cover up my fear of approaching any of the girls I’ve ever crushed on. Every time someone would ask me why I’m still single, I’d say matter-of-factly that I just haven’t found the one. After all, that shepherd boy found love in the least likely of places, so maybe I was yet to find my “soulmate” someday somewhere. I tried convincing myself that it’s right to wait, but then, there’s that nagging thought at the back of my mind–what if I keep waiting?
And then, on my first day of class, I saw Ana sitting just a couple of rows away from me.
I suddenly remembered my Theo classes where we talked about how love is a choice, not a feeling. Granted that what I felt at the moment wasn’t love per se, I couldn’t help feeling the flutter of butterflies in my stomach. Call it cathexis… call it anything other than love, but that gut-wrenching feeling was definitely real. The hero of The Alchemist found out that he loved Fatima without even knowing it. Could it be possible to love someone you don’t know?
It wasn’t as if we were total strangers. I knew Ana from that org we were both a part of. She was kind and unassuming, and there was definitely something captivating about her charm. We had some common friends, but we only knew each other as acquaintances. All I could notice was how much prettier she looked now.
My friend Beyonce (not the singer) knew about my crush, and she challenged me to say something to my crush before the sem ended. Beyonce was my love guru, and being one of the few girls I felt comfortable being myself with, I’d often ask her for advice. Always, Beyonce would tell me just to be myself and be honest about how I feel. And most importantly, she told me that I had to talk to her face-to-face.
Being my typical torpe self, I never bothered to try talking to Ana, beyond the occasional “hi, hello” whenever I’d see her in class or cross paths with her in the hallway. Sometimes, when she would greet me first, I’d just smile awkwardly and garble up some unintelligible greeting. I let an entire semester pass without trying to get closer to her. At one point, we even became groupmates, but still, I didn’t say anything. I really hated being an introvert and a hopeless romantic.
Whenever Beyonce would ask me for updates on my non-existent love life, I’d just tell her that I’m waiting for the right opportunity. Waiting, like always.
There’s a line from The Alchemist that goes, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” The first time I read this, I thought that it was a rather naive statement. The universe won’t just hand you what you want on a silver platter–that much I knew. But it got me thinking. What if all those missed opportunities I could have said something to Ana was the universe’s way of telling me to do something?
The sem ended early for me, and on my last day of school, I saw Ana. I figured it could also be her last day of school as well, and it was likely the only chance I had left to talk to her. Was this it? Was this the sign the universe was sending me?
I mustered up the courage to approach Ana. I started with my usual awkward hi, and to my relief, she was the one who started the conversation. She asked me how I’ve been holding up the past sem. And like a miracle, I felt really light talking to her, and we shared a few laughs as we talked about all the papers and the photo finish deadlines we survived. Beyonce told me to be myself and be honest about how I felt. This was it. I said to my crush, “Ana, I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but I just needed to let you know: I think you’re really beautiful.”
That was when both of us became silent. Ana blushed, and those few awkward seconds made me sweat profusely. Immediately, I changed the topic and asked her if she still had any pending requirements left for school. She said that all she had was one last exam. I wished Ana good luck and gave some words of encouragement, and after an awkward bye, we parted ways.
That night, I couldn’t stop replaying the scene in my head. I felt relieved to have gotten it off my chest. Now, I won’t be wondering about the what-ifs. But then I thought about the what-ifs. What if she liked me too? Conversely, what if… she didn’t?
My next reaction was to check the last message I sent Ana. We were groupmates for a class project once, and our only exchanges were solely school-related. The last message I sent her was a thank you, and that was a couple of months ago.
I thought that if Ana thought me weird, our conversation today might be our last one… the exchange of messages we had would be the last Messenger chat we’d have.
I decided not to think about it too much anymore. Besides, what chances did I have with my crush? No one has ever had a crush on me anyway… or so I thought. As I was scrolling through my FaceBook feed, Liz, a friend of mine, posted a cheeky status update, promising to send a personal message for every comment, wherein she would “make amin” a secret of hers. I commented on her post, expecting Liz to send me some unpopular opinion she had about anything pop culture, but instead, I got surprised by her message.
She told me that she found me cute. It was the first time anyone ever told me that. She apologized about having had a crush on me before, hoping that her confession didn’t make things between us weird.
At first, I didn’t respond to her message right away. I kind of freaked out. It flattered me to find out that someone actually liked me, but at the same time, I didn’t want my friendship with Liz to change. I liked her as a friend.
After a minute of thinking about what to type, I replied back with “Really? Haha cool… no worries :))”. Liz replied back with “thanks and sorry” again, and I didn’t get what she had to feel sorry for. It made me feel bad that Liz was feeling guilty, so I tried to make our chat less awkward. I teased that maybe she found me less cute when she found out that I wasn’t a fan of a certain show she liked. We were back to our usual cheeky messages, and we had a really fun chat afterward. All that mattered to me was that we were still friends. In fact, because of Liz’s amin, Liz and I just became even closer.
A few days after I told Ana I found her beautiful, I got a friend request… from her. I was so ecstatic. Perhaps that day wasn’t the last time we’d talk to each other. Just maybe… Ana could like me too. Then, I thought about this in relation to how I felt about Liz’s amin. At first, I might have been taken aback, but I didn’t think Liz weird because of it. Perhaps, this was what Ana felt as well when I sort of made amin to her.
If there’s any lesson to learn from my experience, it’s probably that you’ll never know unless you try. Maybe it will work out, and maybe it won’t. But hey, that’s life, and that’s okay. Imagine what the world would be like if we all just collapsed these imaginary boundaries we construct, and were more honest with how we feel about others. Maybe, making amin to your crush can make this world a better place.
Have you ever confessed to your crush? Let us know!