Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

CHIN: Value Love and Rejection


I asked her out on a Friday night in junior year. It was 2 a.m. The words were painfully blinding even on my dimmed phone screen.

I had spent the past week writing and rewriting my message. The drafts were scrawled in black ink on looseleaf paper or scribbled in the margins of my notebooks, taking shape among my notes when I was supposed to be paying attention in class. I sent the more polished versions to our mutual friend through text message, a rehearsal for the real confession. Even now, three years later, one version still sits in the Notes app on my phone. 

My finger hesitated over the send button. My biggest fear, as I would repeat in each iteration of my message, was hurting our friendship. Maybe I was being too presumptuous, too aggressive. Maybe I should’ve just been happy with what we already had. I didn’t want to lose her. 

But I was also curious. I clicked the send button, muted notifications and rolled over to go to sleep. I told myself that I would wait until the morning to see her response, so that I could try to get some sleep, yet I was filled with anticipatory fear. Against my better judgment, I stayed awake.

Her first response was a misinterpretation. She took my request to hang out as a platonic appeal to further our friendship. This was my fault, of course: Despite all the drafting, my final attempt took the form of a vague, three-line text message. It took more than an hour for me to reply; I was so anxious about the impending rejection. When I finally did clarify, her response was almost worse: “Do you want to talk after school on Monday?”

She was, and still is, the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen. I’ve known her since seventh grade. She had black hair that reached halfway down her back, which looked almost brown in direct sunlight. We were still at the height of the pandemic in New York City, so a black mask covered half of her face and left only her eyes visible. She liked to wear oversized hoodies, and she carried her backpack on only one shoulder. She spoke and moved calmly, with the elegance of someone much older and wiser.

We walked out of our high school together that Monday morning among a crowd of other students. Their voices faded into a monotone chatter, but I could imagine each of their conversations — “How did you do on the test? Where should we go to eat? What train are you taking home today?”

“I’m sorry,” she said as we reached the end of the block. The air was damp and chilly, as it usually is in Manhattan mid-January afternoons. We walked toward the intersection of Chambers Street and West Broadway, where we would take the 2 or 3 train uptown to Penn Station. After that would be a 30-minute train ride on the Long Island Railroad. “I thought about how to respond the whole weekend. I didn’t want to hurt your feelings.”

“It’s okay,” I said. I had thought about this encounter the whole weekend too. “Really.”

“I think we’d be better off as friends.”

It was the answer I’d been expecting. I wondered if I’d been hoping for it too.

Nowadays, it’s as if I never confessed at all. Aside from a few weeks of awkwardness, our friendship essentially picked up where it left off. We remained friends throughout high school and still are to this day. Some of my last nights before leaving for college were spent calling her.

I think that, sometimes, she forgets our junior year encounter. She visited my house over winter break, updating me on her college social life and telling me about a boy who was pursuing her.

“I don’t know how to reject him,” she said. “I really like him too, but only as a friend.”

I sometimes wonder what I hoped to gain from my confession. She was the third girl I had ever liked, but the first person I’d ever confessed to. Maybe that’s because I knew that even in my state of vulnerability, I would be safe — I knew that the worst-case scenario wouldn’t be too bad. She wouldn’t make fun of me or purposefully hurt my feelings. Or maybe it’s because I actually thought I had a chance with her.

My confession to her also provided an opportunity for me to consider my sexuality. Though I had liked other girls before her, as I mentioned earlier, these were the first feelings I acted on and spoke about with my friends. Previously, I had mostly kept these feelings to myself and only gossiped about my male crushes with others. Confessing to my friend was a way for me to speak another aspect of my identity into existence, revealing a part of me that I had hidden for a long time.

This wasn’t a love story, at least not in the way most would expect it to be. Though we have both gone on to date other people and make new friends, I know that we’ll always have each other. For the rest of junior year and part of senior year, our lock screens were matching photos of one another. Throughout high school, she would ask me what time I was going home so that we could take the train together. She was one of the first people I told when I got into my dream college, and we still call each other even in the height of midterms. She’s one of the first people I see whenever I go back home.

This isn’t romantic love, I know, but I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

Lauren Chin is a first-year student in the College of Arts and Sciences. This is the second installment of their column “What We Love and Lose.”

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