it’s the only way to get them off your mind

Hey y’all,

Happppy Monday!

I just got back from the both the most magical and most bizarre girls trip to Sedona, Arizona. I don’t have the space here to share all the juicy details, but I’ll sum it up this way: in one day, my friends and I were asked by a random YT to show them our immigration papers 😯 and later that day we were doing the most peaceful yoga and meditation session in the middle of an unreal red rock vortex with a yogi named Blair who blasted “Chocolate City” when we were finished.

All in all, I highly recommend checking out Sedona for the magical vibes. Just be prepared for people to act real “red state”.

This Week’s Story

I have to admit, ya girl is very familar with rejection. I’ve been getting rejected by people I’ve had crushes on since 1997. It all started when I wrote a letter to my 2nd grade crush, Benjamin (Hi Ben!), who was never actually supposed to see the letter. I told a friend I wrote it and she quickly betrayed me by telling the whole class one day during recess. He was traumatized and ignored me for a few days. I learned the feeling of unrecquited love quite viscerally that day.

Since then, I’ve gotten rejected at least once every few years or so. To be fair, I don’t often get crushes on people (I think my last one was in 2019), but something about it, even though it sucks, still feels…thrilling? In this week’s essay, Amber makes the case for getting those sticky, lovey-dovey feelings off your chest. It may not always end up in you skipping down the yellow brick road with your new boo, but you’ll feel a lot better for it.

Take care,

Anayo Awuzie
EIC of Carefree Magazine

Say Everything

by Amber Humphrey

So, you’ve finally done it!

You’ve decided to let love lift you up where you belong and have plans to tell the remarkable, fascinating, deeply attractive person you desire exactly how you feel. It’s been two overwhelming years/months/days/minutes/seconds since your beloved took up seemingly permanent residence in your mind, your heart, and your soul, and they brought with them some noteworthy changes: Whereas, not long ago, you had no opinion whatsoever about adult contemporary music, suddenly you’ve discovered that every neo-soul and smooth jazz ballad is an extraordinarily accurate description of your innermost longings and most passionate fantasies. Even songs that have nothing to do with love, romance, or the sweetest taboo remind you of them (just recently you heard the Law & Order theme and got a little aroused).

You think about this person all the time and imagine the beautifully mundane life the two of you might build together: The kisses you’ll share. The #relationshipgoals worthy Instagram pictures you’ll take. The burritos you’ll eat. (Oh, the burritos you will eat!) Maybe you’re currently friends with this person, or you’ve recently started flirting with them. Perhaps the two of you have exchanged sexually charged high-fives at work. Or maybe you’ve simply been pining for them from afar. All you know is that you’d like to be closer. Much, much closer. And so here you are, about to take the first step toward transforming this fervid infatuation into something tangible (and hopefully just as fervid).

Although you’ve passed the stage of neurotically wondering (and asking everyone you know and don’t know) if you should tell them how you feel (and congratulations on getting through that torture!), it’s perfectly understandable that you might feel a little nervous—maybe even a touch nauseated—about what’s about to happen. Because to tell someone that you like them is to make yourself vulnerable to ridicule, rejection, embarrassment— the works. Better to not say anything at all, or to couch your sincere emotions in fake irony, right?

Honestly, I’m not an especially bold person. Sometimes I struggle to stand up for my beliefs or to articulate my thoughts to other people in casual, friendly conversation. Oddly, though, I am rather daring when it comes to these sorts of declarations. It might be because I watched too many Richard Curtis movies at an impressionable age, but I’ve never had too big of a problem being a woman standing in front of the person I crave and asking them to love her.

Of course, because I live in the real world, my affections routinely went unreturned. I’ve experienced some truly mortifying rejections—like, back in high school, when I wrote a love letter to a guy and later stumbled upon him and a friend reading my letter…and laughing. I’ve also had plenty of unremarkable but still unequivocal rejections where a guy I liked told me he wanted to “just be friends” or that he wasn’t “ready for a relationship” or that he liked someone else but did not like me.

But do you think I let any of these experiences get me down? Of course I did. At least for a little while. Getting rejected always sucks, right? But there can be freedom in rejection. Freedom from ruminating over a person who doesn’t reciprocate your feelings.

Or maybe—and this is a big maybe—you won’t be rejected. And that’s the really wonderful part about all of this, isn’t it? Right now, as you prepare to make your big announcement, you just might be standing on a metaphorical railway platform, seconds away from boarding the express train to Boo’d Up Town (or Drunk In Love City—it’s up to you).

I refused to allow the countless rejections I amassed over the years to keep me from wearing my heart on my sleeve. I once told a close friend that I had a crush on him by earnestly quoting the “to me, you are perfect” bit from Love Actually. This schmaltzy plagiarized confession actually led to a brief romantic relationship, and even though we didn’t end up getting married and acquiring babies and matching forehead tattoos, the experience was exhilarating—both because that dude was hella adorable and because, like Mulan, I had been true to my heart. I was being this unfiltered version of myself, and that by itself was exciting. I also learned that this guy was perfect as a friend or as the star of an erotic daydream, but not so perfect as a boyfriend. As the two of us eventually settled comfortably back into a friendship, I was happy that I could stop asking myself what it might be like to date him.

Being vulnerable also stops you from chasing something. A dream? An opportunity? Love? And maybe there will be another such moment in your future. But this moment, right now, is different. In this moment, right now, you will do the difficult thing. You will say your piece, and it will feel strange and uncomfortable, but that’s OK, because, regardless of the outcome, you will have been brave. You will have been true to your heart. And that’s something you can be proud of.

So, as you brush your teeth tonight, mentally compose a love poem, practice your “I want to go on a date with you” interpretive dance, or do whatever it is that you have to do to get ready for this special event. And remember: No matter how things go, your declaration of love will enable you to move forward. Because when you choose to tell someone you secretly adore how you feel about them, you are also choosing to embrace and be fueled by uncertainty instead of letting it smother your wonderful romantic, idealistic spirit.

Anything is possible, right?

So maybe you’ll get a date or maybe you won’t. Or maybe, just maybe, grandiose love songs will be sung about your bravery on this day. There’s only one way to find out.

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Amber Humphrey is freelance burrito-eater, entertainment writer, and ’90s pop culture devotee from the Bay Area. A prolific doodler, Amber spends her evenings drawing intense crayon portraits of Bill Pullman.

This article was originally published in Rookie