I’ve written before about some connections that I’ve made in previous years online. I struggle not to call them relationships, because aren’t all connections with people just a different relationship of some sort? But if I label them as such, I think that people will automatically assume it was a romantic thing.
In most cases, the feelings on my side were romantic in nature. But there was always that little voice in the back of my head that was telling me that if this person really knew the real me, our connection would end. For 15 year old T, that was a hard truth to swallow, and I held on to the feeling the connection gave me for as long as I could.
Thankfully back then, it was before all this social media stuff which constantly connects everyone online at all times. These were the simple days of MSN, Yahoo!, ICQ chat services. The “good old days” of the early 2000’s. Before people could type in your email address and find you on Facebook. I didn’t even know Facebook existed until I was around 18. If I really want to date myself (which in all honesty, why not? Ya’ll know my age anyways) I first chat name was with Yahoo! and I was 12, which was 1999.
In 2002 by the time I was 15, I was hooked into this whole online chatting game – and I was pretty good with it. My online teenage flirt game was on point. Thankfully, back then, profiles didn’t really have a lot of information on them, and having the protective parents that I did, I wasn’t allowed to put a real picture up on my profile. Internet safety wasn’t a big thing back then, it wasn’t constantly in my young mind that the person I was talking to could be someone who could potentially hurt me – I was a trusting young girl just looking for attention.
Then I started to get a little addicted to the attention. In my real life, I was just a fat teenager, who was living kind of a semi-invisible life. It was “normal”, I never really felt out of place, but there were things missing. I had great friends in school, but we never really saw each other outside of school, I had my teams and clubs that I was in and bonded with a lot of people in them but never outside of the school setting. When I wasn’t in school, I was online. It was probably a big mistake for my parents to get my brother and I our own computers one year for Christmas. It meant that I was able to just come home and spend all my free time in my room talking to boys online.
The following is a completely embarrassing tale of things I did when I was younger. But since I’ve always promised to be honest on my blog, I’m trusting you not to mock me too harshly.
It was still a time in my life where I was ashamed of who I actually was, and how I looked. So after talking to someone for a while, they would ask to exchange pictures. I had found a way to work around that! I would do a basic google search and just use someone else’s pictures.
Nowadays, that’s called Catfishing. urban dictionary defines it as:
A catfish is someone who pretends to be someone they’re not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.
Although I never used it in a malicious way, just as a way to get over my own insecurities about being a plus sized teenage. I knew I would never be meeting these people, and saw no harm in it.
At that time, in order to get a picture on my computer, I would have to physically scan an actual picture. Well, my dad would, since I didn’t know how to work the scanner or the program needed to transfer the files. I didn’t want to explain to my dad why I needed the picture scanned, so I avoided it for as long as possible.
Then I got the idea to use other’s pictures from a guy I was talking to. He had sent me a picture of “him” sitting at a picnic table. A few days later, a friend of mine told me it was actually a picture of Justin Timberlake (I was very much a BSB girl, not an N’sync girl and had no idea what Justin Timberlake looked like). Granted, it was from this phase in his life (I once again failed at the google magic and couldn’t find the actual picture):
And the idea stuck with me! For those moments when I needed to have a picture to sent to anyone I was talking to, I just did a google search and sent them someone else’s picture.
Looking back on my teenage self, I wish I had the same love for being me as I do now. I still have those moments where I doubt myself, especially when dealing with online “connections” or IRL connections that I know my physical appearance will shatter things. But then I remember, I am a strong, beautiful, educated, traveled, woman. And if anyone doesn’t see that (especially in a romantic situation), it’s their loss not mine.
Now that I’ve opened up and shared a little bit of my horrible teen choices, what about you? Have you ever made decisions like this in pursuit of a guy (or a girl)? Some days I just want to slap my teenage self and tell her to pull it together!