I'm a single woman in my late 20s. I've always been book-smart, people-dumb, and very shy, which means that I've always had trouble making friends. I also tend to be judgemental towards myself and afraid of other people's opinion of me. Like Anne Elliot at the beginning of Persuasion, I feel my beauty is gone; but I lack Anne's strength of character.
In middle grade, there was a boy in my class who was teased even worse than I was. He was shy and stubborn, but very kind to me. I felt he had a crush on me, but I didn't reciprocate and didn't want to lead him on. After years of not seeing each other, I bumped into him randomly in our home town. He seemed to be a totally different person; self-confident, smiling, enthusiastic about his job. I was too flustered to suggest that we keep in touch.
Five years have passed since then, and I'm not proud of what I've become. I've suffered from depression and anxiety attacks. I do feel better now, but it's still difficult for me to deal with my emotions. Last week I found in a drawer an old note from him. I believe he still lives in my area, and would like to contact him again. I'm afraid, however, that it might not be a wise move; he could be married with kids, or in a relationship, and things might be awkward. But I also would like to talk to him. What should I do?
~ Confused in Cornwall
Dear Confused in Cornwall,
There comes a time in our lives when we must confront who we've become, and who we want to be. Your childhood friend may well have a family now, but even if he does not, it will not matter if you are not ready to give yourself over to love. You cannot pin your hopes of future happiness and health on him, because that is too great a burden to place on a budding romance. Instead, you must first look about you, take stock, decide what you need to do to first make yourself happy and healthy, and begin working towards that. You must bring back your light and your bloom - I find trips to the seaside work wonders in this regard.
When you are ready to let love in, ready to take the risk and put yourself out there, you'll know. And when that time comes, if he is unattached, you should go for it - don't let another five years pass you by just because you're afraid to take a leap. The worst that can happen is that you'll also take a fall. But, as my dear Louisa learned, sometimes even a fall can land you right where you need to be...
Anne Wentworth, nee Elliot