Totally Me: The Teenage Girl's Survival Guide


Did I Just Say That Out Loud?

Do you ever become a blithering fool in the presence of a male you just want to jump all over? Do you find yourself wondering what evil presence has taken over your body, turning you from the charming, self-possessed Dr. Jekyll into the stammering, vacuous Ms. Hyde? Welcome to the club! We all have a drooling alter ego just waiting to make an appearance at the worst possible moment.

When that special guy comes into view, you may experience a temporary meltdown. You'll know this is the case if:

  • Your knees go weak.
  • Bats swoop around in your stomach.
  • You mind goes blank.
  • Your mouth goes dry and your tongue feels as though it's the size of a watermelon.
  • Your face burns.
  • You suddenly understand why they make adult-size diapers.

You will definitely create a lasting impression in this state. Unless your guy is trained in first aid, he'll likely walk off with a puzzled look on his face to tell his friend about the freaky little thing who cornered him in the hall and froze. Very few teenage boys are together enough to be able to put a petrified girl at ease.

What brings on a meltdown? We'd like to tell you that it's a curse from beyond, but the sad truth is that we bring it on ourselves. It comes from spending a little too much time in fantasy land. You know what we mean, ladies. You can admit to us that you romanticize aspects of your life. Have you ever progressed through an entire relationship in you head, before you even meet the guy? Welcome to a normal day inside a girl's mind. Why nature has seen fit to wire girls this way is beyond us, but it is undeniable that most of us build intricate fantasies around guys we admire.

It all starts innocently enough. One morning, for example, you stop into Starbucks on your way to school. Behind the counter is a very attractive guy wearing the name tag “Justin.” You order a cappuccino, and Justin expertly steams the milk and pours just the right amount into the espresso. He smiles at you as he hands it over and suddenly, you're in Luv. The next day you go back. And by the fourth day, he's putting extra foam on your cappuccino because you've become a “regular.” One day you notice (by practically crawling over the counter to get a closer look) that the fingernails on his left hand are shorter than those on his right and you realize that he must play guitar. In fact, you suspect he's a very talented musician. The next day you hear him singing along with the background music and you are sure of it. And now that you know all about Justin, you begin to have a “relationship” with him in your mind:

You begin by “chatting” about his music, his upcoming CD and his dreams of being a rock star. You're there for his big break, for the start of the world tour, for the feature in Rolling Stone. Then you're on his arm (wearing a fabulous dress) when he wins the Grammy Award. Shortly after this, he proposed to you one night on stage and slips a diamond ring the size of Texas on your finger. But then it all starts going downhill. The music is getting in the way of your relationship. And what about that clingy backup singer who gyrates against him during his shows? It's almost a cliché. You start making demands, but he just gets more and more distant and your heart is breaking when…

“Would you like cinnamon or chocolate on your cappuccino?”

What?! Oh. You're in the line at Starbucks. And you're definitely having a meltdown.

Nothing is crueler than reality breaking into a rosy fantasy, but that's what happens when lover boy steps out of your mind and into the school hallway. Guess what? He's not a prince, or an actor, or a rock star (yet!). He's not necessarily kind, or honest, or funny, or creative—at least you have no concrete evidence to support your theories. All you have is you the makings of a fine screenplay, with all the clever dialogue, the conflict, the love scenes. You've been developing a fictional character very carefully, by building up layer upon layer of detail.

By the time you actually meet him, the whole thing might be played out. When the real guy opens his mouth, it can cause a weird collision of fact and fiction. Oh my god! He's nothing like I imagined him at all! Now, it's often surprising how accurate we can actually be. As a rule, girls are careful and consistent observers, and that helps you make logical leaps in building up a character. But still, sometimes the reality can be a major disappointment.

© Yvonne Collins & Sandy Rideout