This post resonates with me.
Some of it, though, was different for me. I’ve always had absurd amounts of confidence, nearly unflappable no matter what depredations others subjected me to do. This is both bad and good. But when I was young it helped me to survive. No one ever could and never did convince that I wasn’t just as good as they were, try as they might. (And so, so many people did try where I grew up.)
But still, once you’ve been the unlovable nerd whipping boy for a protracted and miserable time, that never really completely goes away no matter your extreme stubbornness or self-confidence.
When we were leaving for a restaurant over the weekend, my partner said to me, “You look really nice.”
Then when we got there, there was a cute librarian-ish woman sitting at a table catercorner to us. I noticed that when I wasn’t looking in her general direction, she kept glancing and then staring at me. (I have just ridiculous peripheral and unusual vision in other ways, so it was easy for me to see her even when she thought I couldn’t. She was being furtive and not at all rude, but just not furtive enough for me.)
The old much-hated (by others) nerd inside of me wondered at first if i looked particularly funny that day, or I had a booger hanging out of my nose or something. Then I realized that she wasn’t looking at me that way. She was looking at me the way people look at you when they like what they see.
Still — still — even after all these years, I was half-convinced at first that she was making fun of me or otherwise trying to taunt me. The old nerd talking. I shut that fucker up right quick.
Before I left, I looked over at her when she was in “stare mode” and gave her a smile and cocked an eyebrow, and she turned a shade of red usually reserved for barns and firetrucks.
Go away, old nerd. Go back to middle school where you belong.