The one that got away and the lesson I learnt.

The one that got away and the lesson I learnt.

We had physics assignment. Lots of questions to answer and a deadline for submission. I asked my roommate, an engineering student to help me out. Obviously she should have an idea, it’s their specialty, but she took a very good look at it and decided she couldn’t solve it. However, she said I could come over to her class the next day and one of her course mates could help me out. “Cool”, I thought, and the next day, as promised, she got one of her course mates to try to solve it. That’s how I first met him but I didn’t take note, I just wanted the question solved so I could move on to other things like playing candy crush.

I started to notice him after that day though and one thing I did notice was that he was always either surrounded by or with people. “Must be one of those unnecessarily popular guys”, I thought to myself. And I made the conclusion when as I was leaving class one afternoon, I met a small group of people gathered round someone. Being the curious person that I am, I stepped in a little closer to have a look and there he was, this guy again, with what looked like a wrist watch. “What could have been happening?”, I mused, “how would normal people gather to look at someone’s wrist watch like primary school children discovering a new animal?, Na wa o”. And just as he looked up at me, I continued on my journey towards things that actually mattered, like my bed and sleep.

I still sparsely saw him around here and there but we never spoke until one night. It was the day of our mock physics practical. Based on the first letter of my surname, I was to be in the last batch. Unfortunately, the practical ran really long and it was getting too late. We were then told to go at about 8pm or thereabout, after waiting all day. “We’ll schedule your own practical for a later date”, they said. So I left, sad that I basically spent all day waiting and all for nought. I decided to spoil myself and I bought a large amount of suya – both chicken and beef. Then I walked over to the cab queue and then he came walking to join the queue, this guy again. He was part of the earliest batches so why was he here at this time? I asked and was baffled when he told me he had gone to the library. Who goes back to read all day just after an exam? I don’t remember the details of the rest of the conversation we had but I know I asked how the practical was and what his batch did (they switched the practicals for each batch). I don’t know how it came up but he told me the next day was his birthday and since then, I’ve never forgotten the date. During the cab ride, we talked, but about nothing in particular that I remember. He paid my cab fare (what? I didn’t have change) and then we parted ways.
That night, I knew that I liked him.

The next day, I told my roommate about his birthday and on finding out it was true, she sent him a message. I didn’t know why then but I wanted to wish him a happy birthday and I made her send another one that included me.
I still saw him during the actual exam, about once or twice, with people of course. I remember one girl I saw talking to him all cozy and stuff and I thought, “hey that must be his girlfriend”. Not that it mattered anyway. Or so I thought.
During the holidays I was free and happy and looking forward to enjoying the period of the holiday when I wasn’t thinking or worrying about what my result would be like. One day however, my friend messaged me that he had asked for my number and wanted to know if she should give it to him. This guy again. He said that he had just been “admiring from afar”. I had a feeling it was a dangerous move but then a guy like him could never have feelings for someone like me, and I always wanted male friends so I gave her my permission.
We started talking and for a while we chatted really frequently and about a lot of things even to the extent of religion, beliefs, faith in God, and the lack thereof. One thing that struck me though was his strong philanthropic interest. Everybody has something they’re really passionate about but this showed a depth that made me admire him. I didn’t realize it but I steadily got attached and always wanted to hear from him. I bugged him like I used to bug my friends but something deeper was happening and I didn’t want to acknowledge it.

Eventually, he asked me out and I declined, my reason being that, “I only like you in the same way I’d like a friend.” I lied and somewhere deep down I knew it but I stuck with it anyways. There’s no way I could say something like: “I really like you but I’m not ready for a relationship”. That would have just made him think I was playing “hard to get” or something. I honestly wasn’t ready for a relationship and if we tried, it most likely wouldn’t work out so I let it slide. We still talked but it became sparse. He didn’t understand my decision and then I realized that I had been sending a mixed message. In my relating with him, it had probably been obvious that I liked him but then I said I didn’t. Our conversations became even more sparse.

By now we had resumed school and in one of our conversations, I mentioned how much I liked talking to him. Shortly after that, he asked if I could be his sort of diary(I don’t remember the exact word(s) he used. LOL). The whole point was to have a safe space to share what goes on in his life without being judged. I thought about how much more attached to him I would become if I agreed to that and I declined. I don’t think I was nice about it though.
Our conversations switched from friendly to cordial and I didn’t blame him, it wasn’t his fault but it hurt. After a while, he stopped responding to my messages. I chalked it up to being busy and maybe a faulty phone or app until one day I realized that he was online and reading my messages but deliberately ignoring them. This ushered in anger, a whole new level of hurt and then self doubt. I had lost a friend and I had no idea why. “What could I have done?”, I tried to reason within myself. It was at this point I realised how much I cared for him. I still messaged him once in a while and he still ignored them, as usual.

One day I tried to call and then he responded, telling me about how he had a girlfriend and all. I was first shocked, then hurt, then happy for him. He was a “hot cake” and I should have seen it coming anyways. After all if I indeed cared for him, I’d be happy about his happiness.
At some point he had picked up photography and asked me to come for a free photoshoot, something he could use for his social media page. “Me kẹ?”, I thought. First of all, I wasn’t proud of how I looked and then I’d have to see him and I didn’t think I could handle that so I declined.
After a while, he invited me to check out his Instagram page(we had resumed our sparse ‘acquaintanceship’ at this time). I wasn’t on Instagram. His girlfriend was his muse. I had motivation to join Instagram. When I saw her picture I was jealous for a few moments and after I realized how pretty she was, I was happy for him again. “He’s got a good eye, I don’t even stand a chance beside her”, I said to myself, “she does kind of remind me of myself though”. Except she’s not a coward and she didn’t say no to him.

We still talked once in a while but it wasn’t cool for me because then I’d always imagine that whenever I send a message he wouldn’t reply. Especially if the reply was late. I ended up just complaining about his late replies and then I realised that this guy didn’t owe me anything. If he actually decided not to reply me, there was nothing I could do about it. Apparently, the feeling of being ignored by him would always nag me so I decided to “dey my lane”.
Following a long period of silence, he called me up one night and we talked for a few minutes. It was kinda weird but as always, I was happy to hear from him. After exams the next semester, we made plans to meet up and somehow (don’t ask me why) I went to see him. I was a bit apprehensive at first, especially when we went to his place and his roommate left. He was a perfect gentleman though and that bumped up my respect for him to a whole new level. We talked for a while, watched a movie and then talked some more. I found out that he had broken up with his girlfriend and this made me think about that night he called me. Could it have been? He asked me if my heart was taken (or something like that) and for a few seconds I toyed with the idea of letting him know it had been him all along, just before I snapped out of it. When it was time for me to leave, he accompanied me to the bus stop where we shared a handshake and then a weird hug before I left. How could I still like this guy after such a long time?

Later that night or the next day (I don’t remember which), we chatted and he told me about how he felt and before he could say much more, I had sent a message about how the thing between us, whatever it was, would not work. I had my reasons but he never asked and in that moment I was convinced that he didn’t really care. I was just his “fall back” girl. The one you automatically gravitate towards after a breakup i.e. a default rebound. Or maybe he just wanted to try again or something. Either way, I wasn’t still ready for a relationship anyways. And most of all, not with someone that I cannot share the most important part of my life with.

This time I had wisened up and I promised myself I was never going to message him again, it was too hard for me. After a while however, I found myself stalking him on social media and feeling more strongly for him than I ever had (it’s creepy, I know). I decided to send him a birthday present. It would have been weird though, or so I thought, so I decided to make it an anonymous birthday present. That way he doesn’t think I have some weird crush on him and his appreciation of the gift is not affected by who the giver is or isn’t. There was another inspiration for that too though. The gift didn’t turn out the way I expected but I sent it anyways. Weirdest shit I ever did, I wasn’t even sure I could pull it off but I did and it felt amazing and horrible at the same time. Amazing because I had pulled it off and just as I expected, he posted it with an appreciation for “whoever” sent it. Horrible because he’d most likely never know it was me. I did send a belated birthday message the next day though, just couldn’t help it. I let it go and went on not talking to him. It only lasted for roughly a month.

He had followed me on twitter a while back and as if on cue, he messaged me. It was supposed to be harmless bants but unfortunately, it got to me and stirred up feelings I had almost forgotten about. I wanted to let it go but for the life of me I couldn’t. It started with me calling him to find out why he messaged me and about how I didn’t really feel we were friends because we didn’t vibe right, I even asked why he ever liked me in the first place. I then asked if we could actually be friends.
Almost a day and no reply! It seemed like he was doing that “ignore the girl” thing again and I panicked, it ended up with me spilling my guts about how I had feelings for him that I didn’t want to acknowledge before and that I was the one that sent the anonymous birthday gift. Imagine! It gets worse though, I even pleaded with him not to send the gift back (why would I even think that he would?😭). I know, how stupid can one person be? I felt even more stupid when he replied saying that he was just having really busy days and hadn’t gotten around to read his messages. I had never felt so horrible in my “whole entire” life.

Thankfully, he didn’t make fun of me and he seemed really grateful for the stuff I sent but I now see that because of my insecurities and idleness in the first place, I dragged myself into this one. This is someone with a lot of cool friends and family and loved ones of all sorts, never lacking people around. What could he possibly gain from me who has nothing to give? I’m just now realizing that I couldn’t fit in anywhere in his life. And that’s what got me thinking.

At least I did learn how my assumptions and insecurities weighed me down. I realised that I had issues that needed to be worked on and that was a step in the right direction. Hopefully I’ll be a better person real soon…🤞🏽

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