Crush City is a biweekly column following the romantic misadventures of New York City high school junior Anna Koppelman. Her conquests include studying her crush in geometry instead of isosceles triangles and making a secret Pinterest board for the wedding she is definitely going to have with her older brother’s friend. Anna may not be talking to any of her exes, but she’s happy to write about them.
I started 2016 by getting dinner with my ex-boyfriend. He’s British and I was in London for TEDxTeen. On the airplane over, I pictured us kissing on the London Eye. I was positive he would tell me he loved me and that he missed me so much that he cried himself to sleep every night. Instead he canceled on me the first night I was there because he had to help his friend set up a chocolate fountain at his house party. He only met up with me the second night of my trip after I sent him a sufficient amount of passive-aggressive texts (as I believe any girl in my position would). He brought me apology chocolates riddled with nuts (I’m anaphylactic to peanuts) and he came to the meal already having eaten. So, basically, 2016 started with my ex-boyfriend trying to kill me via poisonous chocolate.
The year progressed, and with it so did my plan to organize a poetry assembly with a hot, popular junior who also likes to write. The sole mission of this project was, admittedly, to get said junior interested in me. But he never quite latched on to the dark-and-sexy poet persona I had crafted and enacted just for him. Soon after, there was Tyler, my peer tutor. He was supposed to explain math to me at 7:30 a.m. every Monday and Friday. I got a C+ in math and didn’t lose my virginity to him as I had hoped. In fact, I never even kissed him — or had a non-math-related conversation with him, for that matter.
I did kiss one person in 2016. He’s the kind of guy who says he wants to be a novelist but doesn’t like to read books. He claimed he didn’t want to be influenced by others (you know, because anyone who reads Hemingway will automatically start writing like him). He whined a lot and was also a picky eater. So my conquest, my one kiss in 2016, was a real winner.
I didn’t even make it to second base. Every year I tell myself it will be the year I breach that next category — that some guy will put his hand on my boobs and tell me I look beautiful with my shirt off. But, alas, another year has gone by and my chest remains untouched.
I got rejected by at least 10 guys in 2016. I went on three diets in the hopes of changing these statistics. I ate approximately seven cans of Betty Crocker frosting to numb the heartache. I watched every season of The Carrie Diaries and cried about the fact that my romantic life didn’t compare to a fictional character's. I bought three books on flirting and subscribed to at least 15 different YouTube channels promising the best guy advice. It was also the year I assumed the guys about whom I wrote would read my writing and then fall back in love with me. Or that any guy would fall in love with me. (HA. HA. HA.) If anything, 2016 was the year I came to understand and accept exactly how pathetic my love life is.
Next week we’ll cross over into 2017. I will celebrate by watching the ball drop with my mom and my dad. Don’t feel bad for me, though: They promised me fondue. So, yeah, there’s no fantastic New Year’s Eve kiss in store for me. Am I OK with that? Has all the rejection I’ve faced helped me reach a newfound understanding of who I am? Has all this heartache served a greater purpose?
Hell no. But writing about it has.
When I was a freshman, I didn't have any friends. I would wake up in the morning, do my makeup, eat breakfast, and then sit on the living room couch and begin to hyperventilate at the thought of going to school. My life felt empty and the loneliness was all-encompassing. But I had earbuds and the ability to read and write. I listened to Bo Burnham’s song “Nerds,” which is about high schoolers who don’t have any friends, while I walked down the hallway and told myself that Bo was my friend. I kept a copy of Mindy Kaling’s book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? in my backpack and during lunch or free periods would read and reread the part where she tells high school girls not to worry about being popular — that it would all work out for them in the end. I wrote that quote on my planner and began to write about other things, too — about everything from the pain I was feeling to my favorite YouTuber. It was through that writing that I slowly began to make real-life friends.
Have you ever laughed so hard that it hurt? So hard that your throat starts to burn and you feel like you will maybe never stop laughing? This year I have. Now, as a junior, I never wake up eager to go to school, but I don’t dread it, either. I have people with whom I can sit, classes I like, and, most importantly, I have found joy in my life. I may still wish I was more likable and sexy in an Olivia Munn kind of way, but this year I also started writing this column, went on a ton of rare and incredible adventures, made friends, and saw that Mindy Kaling tweeted about my writing. I found reasons to laugh.
Especially given everything that is happening in the world right now, it is clearer then ever how lucky I am to have the problems I do. I hope women all over the world will eventually be so lucky — that enough women will be able to get an education in the first place and then worry about the cute boy with whom they are studying. That they will be able to go to a school where they have the luxury of worrying about where they will sit at lunch or who they'll go to prom with instead of worrying about being in a war zone. That they have the privilege of sitting home on a Friday night, upset because they weren’t invited to a party, instead of spending time walking to get clean drinking water.
But hoping the world will eventually be this way, that women will have the privileges I do, isn’t enough. Making change happen takes work. So in 2017, I am excited to work.
Happy New Year. Let’s get started.
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