I’m reading through old diaries and recounting memories in preparation for an event I plan with my friend every few months. It’s called “Dear God, It’s Us,” a night in which we host readers to bask in nostalgia, sharing their most intimate and embarrassing past diary entries.

Nora Ephron once said, “When you slip on a banana peel, people laugh at you. But when you tell people you slipped on a banana peel, the laugh is yours,” and I guess that’s the guiding philosophy behind the readings. Feelings and thoughts that were once painful, distracting, even shameful, become hilariously funny in retrospect, so why not share the joy of self-deprecation with an audience? It seems the more personal and specific entries are, the better they are received. In fact, the most popular pieces have concerned one of three things: love, sexual frustration, or the intersection of both.

I can only really speak for myself here, but I don’t think there is a single entry in any diary I’ve kept since entering middle school that doesn’t mention boys at least once. It’s as though there was some bullet point I had to check off in the rubric of crafting a well-rounded entry. I talked about what boys I liked, what boys I loved, what boys I kissed, what boys I talked to, what boys didn’t like me back, what boys I wanted to dismember, and which boy I thought I would like next. There are entire sections of my high school career that I can remember only by which boy I liked or was with.

Of course, this is kind of horrible. A victim of perpetually low self-esteem and a devout narcissism, I’ve spent the past four years overanalyzing moments and interactions for romantic and sexual meaning. I’ve filled my brain with knowledge of past pairings, crush’s interests, optimal hallway routes for cute boy sightings, and memories of monotonous interactions, and documented all of this in handwritten record. I cried over boys, spent time away from schoolwork and creative thought for boys, and cried over boys some more. I can’t even begin to fathom the amount of time, energy, and brain space, I’ve wasted on these many crushes, which sometime last year, I totaled to be around 35.

Now, it feels like this little part of my childhood has died. I still write about boys in my diary, it’s routine after all, but my updates are far more mundane. There is no longer a fiery spirit inside of me guiding interaction, no longing, no jubilance, no heartache. There are entire sections of my life that I remember only by a crush and my interactions with him. Now, I feel nothing—no undying love for anyone besides myself, and that confuses me. Without these phases of seeming love, who am I? How do I fill this void? And more importantly, how do I remind myself that I’m a human with feelings and desires? Is this the inevitable result of boredom or something greater? Have I changed forever? Will I ever “love” again?

Most importantly, why do anything if not for male validation? ♦