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Courtney Fletcher: Boys and arrested development

BY COURTNEY FLETCHER

Published June 13, 2010

In third grade, I had a fateful crush on one of my classmates. So, being the arts-and-crafts girl that I am, I decided to make him a really nice handmade valentine for Valentine’s Day, complete with doilies, glitter glue and even a little candy heart that said “call me” on it. The anticipation built until we had our class party and all exchanged valentines, which we put in our decorated shoe boxes. At the end of the day I got on the bus and opened my shoebox to search for the one he gave me in hopes that he felt the same way I did (whatever that means when you’re nine). I can still see it vividly today: It was one of those cheap "The Simpsons" cut-out Valentines, and on the back in large Sharpie letters it said, “I DON’T LIKE YOU.”

I wish I could say I’ve recovered from this unfortunate incident, but that's not the case. That event pretty much set the tone for the rest of my experience with the opposite sex for years to come. In high school, I never had a boyfriend and I was asked to only one high school dance. I had maybe two good guy friends and kept all my crushes to myself. In the wake of college, I was optimistic. But hoping that boys would magically change proved to be wishful thinking. I think we all hoped that going to college, growing up and asserting a little independence would lead to healthy, intelligent and meaningful relationships. But in my experience, it has just turned into an extension of the drama in high school. And while nobody is writing me “I don’t like you" notes, things aren't honestly not much better.

So, eleven years after that fateful note, I have reached the conclusion that boys are merely a distraction. A huge one, actually, right up there with Facebook and reality television. Instead of paying attention in class, you're thinking about why he hasn’t texted you back. Instead of preparing for practice, you’re mad that he was talking to another girl. Instead of finishing your paper, you go over to his house to hang out. All this adds up to you not paying attention in lecture, having a bad practice and not finishing your paper. Then you spend countless hours straightening your hair, changing outfits and wearing painful shoes all to grab the attention of that one guy you think is cute.

As you can see, guys aren’t the only ones to blame for this arrested development. Getting worked up about what a guy will think of your fashion decisions is just indicative of a continued high school mindset. I’m pretty sure no guy is going to write you off because he thinks a black belt would have gone better with your outfit than the brown one you chose.

Stop letting them get to you. We would all be a lot better off if we spent more time making ourselves happy instead of searching for a guy to do it for us. Take control, be independent and do it for you and nobody else. Go for a run, have a girls night, get your hair done, go shopping, but do it for you, and you alone. If you are doing things you love, you won’t be worried or bothered by boys. And you’re more likely to meet someone who enjoys the same things you do, which, quite frankly, is much more meaningful than stumbling across a guy after a long night at Rick’s. I think the best advice I have ever heard about guys was from the movie "He’s Just Not That Into You:" If he likes you, he will find a way to contact you. So stop sitting around waiting. If you don’t hear from him, just let him go.

Boys, I do not hate you. I really don’t. Some of you are wonderful people and a lot of fun, and I thank you for not being a distraction. But if you are an insecure, unmotivated, dismissive, “I don’t like you”-note-writing boy, please leave the ladies out of it.

My hope is that one day we will all grow up from high school and actually start to have an understanding of one another. We will have conversations with substance, with similar likes and dislikes and a mutual respect for one another. But for now, I’m turning off my phone, signing off of Facebook and getting some work done. Please, no distractions.

Courtney Fletcher can be reached at fletchco@umich.edu.


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