I do not say this to fish for compliments, to ask you to soothe my ego, to get assurances that everyone feels that way. I was a cute *child* - hell, I did runway modeling as a child. But I had a tremendously awkward adolescence, compounded by the dread big '80s glasses/braces combo and hair that couldn't decide if it was straightwavycurly (it's still like that, but I have a better sense of what to do with it now), and why did I have bangs? Bangs were never a good idea for me. I had bangs because my mother had bangs. I was scrawny and chose clothes poorly, sometimes deliberately, because I did not actually want people looking at me.
Because when people noticed me? Bad stuff happened.
You know that girl. There is always that girl, the one *everyone* picks on. The one who gets the worst from the boys *and* the girls. That, dear reader, was me, through middle and a chunk of high school.
So the first umptyzillion times a boy told me he liked me, I knew for a fact that he was lying. That he was trying to catch me out, make me believe someone could be interested in me, and laugh at me with his friends. Because the chorus of friends would be snickering just around the corner. Middle and high school boys? Not actually very subtle!
Things changed in stages. My later adolescence was pretty much spent in junior loony bins, which did not help, and in the wilderness survival camp, which... sort of did? It helped in that, removed from my situation and plunged into a different one that was abusive in a different way, I started lashing back. I got verbal, but I turned into a little rage monster for a while, in the junior loony bins and there. It didn't help, but it showed me that this was not static, that at least I could react to things in a different way.
Living in Utah my senior year helped. I had the closest thing to a clean slate I'd ever had. Everyone knew I was some sort of juvenile delinquent, because I was living in a group home, but otherwise? None of those people were there in that middle-school hallway. Which is something for a girl who'd been in a closed school system, where no one ever forgot that one thing you did in first grade. I dyed my hair purple and cut it asymmetrically, I went to school in menswear and granny boots; I was Not From Around Here, so I could pretty much do and be whatever I wanted. Exotic!
I married the first boy who ever liked me for my brain. You totally should marry someone who likes you for your brain! But not necessarily the first one, and not necessarily straight out of high school. That did not last.
Honestly, I did a lot of flailing. I dated way too many people just because they were genuinely interested in me, because it felt like I should feel lucky that someone was. (I bold that because it is key and because I only freaking realized it a scant few years ago, and because maybe you were doing the same thing and had not yet realized. I bold because I care.) Because I never feel like anyone is.
This is not a plea for reassurance! I'm saying this not so people can pet me and tell me I'm pretty! I'm just saying that, due to how I grew up, I am sort of conditioned to think that the default state of humans = not interested in me in a romantic way.
This bewilders people. Because if you hang out with me, or even just see me dashing by at a con, you know that I am a fairly confident person in general. I am confident and self-assured and an excellent public speaker. I have skills! And I'll joke about having a fabulous ass, because y'know what? I do. I am not blind to this.
But I am confident in my writing. I am confident in topics in which I Know Stuff, whether it be physics or comic books or mythology. If I know I know something? You will never know I'm shy. I pretty much know how to dress for my body shape now (it keeps changing, argh, but pretty much), and I have learned that if I stick nifty things in my hair it looks not-bad, and I have learned that fabulous jewelry makes me feel fabulous. I have a big laugh and I am very at ease with my friends. Yes.
Which is why, after the second time she pointed out at Wiscon that someone was interested in me and I responded with a o.O, sterling_raptor asked as tactfully as she could, "Are you always that oblivious?"
(Seriously, that was not rude; Sterling and I are like that.)
And I admitted with a laugh that I really, really am. And I think my history is probably why.
I can look at myself objectively and say yeah, I'm smart, I can be funny, there's the ass, sure, I can see how someone would be interested in me. But I always assume that the default is that they aren't, because why would they be?
I never claimed to make sense. I totally kick ass/why would people be into me? Six impossible things before breakfast, and all held in my brain simultaneously.
And thus I am always abjectly terrified to ask. Someone can be giving off what seem to everyone else to be massive signals of Interest. And sometimes I just don't see them because I think we're just chatting as friends - and sometimes, the big self-doubting times, I'm back in the middle-school hallway with one of the Popular Boys asking me to the dance and not quite hiding his smirk.
I am always afraid to ask because I am afraid the person will laugh. That I'll get a "...me? Interested in you?"
I mean, damn. Do we ever get over middle school?
This post brought to you by me wondering if a particular person likes me. Y'know, likes me likes me. Because my radar is broken. So, y'know. If you do! Keep in mind that my radar is broken! Obvious statements are required!
I am saying!
That is all.