All About Naive
I grew up in a small town, or more so outside of a small town. My house was surrounded by corn and soybean fields, and off in the distance you could see (and smell) chicken houses. My parents weren’t farmers, but our house was considered to be “out in the country”. It was a nice home with a large cast-iron wood-burning stove in the living room. Our neighbor had horses that would eat our fence posts, and we had a huge yard with over twenty trees. It was gorgeous to me when I lived there, and I didn’t think it was horrible living far from friends. Well, that’s because I only had one or two friends at any given time. I’m not trying for sympathy, I’m just being serious – I lived in Delaware after all – there are not a lot of people to go around. I had a graduating class that contained less people than all of the players in Major League Baseball. Wait…less than the American League. Nope, wait… not even that many. We had less than 200 students in our senior class.
Most of the others kids in my school grew up in town where they could walk to get to their friends’ houses. So this meant they “hung out” more often than I did with my friends. Along with being more social comes learning more things and being more up-to-date on style, trends, boys, and everything else. Now, I was a shy kid from the very beginning of my life, and that life was a very sheltered one. My parents didn’t share much with me, especially my mom- she wouldn’t even tell me for whom she voted in presidential elections. You can be pretty certain if she isn’t going to tell me whether or not she voted for Dukakis, she sure as heck isn’t going to tell me about drugs or sex.
I finished high school without having even as much as one boyfriend. I guess I should have showered more or used that fancy armpit perfume. Seriously though, I had crushes, but I was way too shy to approach them. I didn’t think for a second that there could be a guy who would like me. My shyness and high grades earned me the reputation of being a snobby bitch. That couldn’t have been further from the truth. I didn’t know how to be a bitch. I did have my crush approach me one time and ask me out, but I thought he had to be joking, so I giggled. I didn’t realize until years later that he had been serious! He translated my giggle as me saying “pfft, not in a million years, loser!” I learned a huge lesson from gaining that bit of knowledge. I had to get some confidence!
I decided to choose a college that was far enough away from home that my mom couldn’t walk in whenever she wanted, but not too far to visit if I were to get homesick. I took this new opportunity as a chance to shed some of my shyness and “start over”. I had my own place and could do things the way I wanted. That within itself was a very foreign concept and took a month or so for me to realize. I remember going grocery shopping and as I reached for the brand of bread my mom always bought, it occurred to me that I didn’t like that bread and could buy whatever brand I wanted. Wow! What a liberating thought. I also folded my towels the way I liked and went to bed when I wanted. I’d say I ran with scissors but that’s just insane.
I met new people – people who had experienced a lot more of the world than I had. I started meeting guys, and get this… they would ask me out! It was such a huge change, but I was still wide-eyed and naive. I knew to be cautious in “the big city”, but I still expected the best from those I met. I trusted people probably much more than they deserved; I’m actually quite surprised that I’m alive today. I gave rides to strangers I met in the mall. I went on two blind dates; one was the DJ I called one night to request a song, the other was a skinhead. Okay, not really a skinhead, but he was bald and could have easily been the main character from the movie Powder. The DJ looked like Cliff Claven from Cheers. Huge lesson number two? Never go on a blind date ever again!
Even though I wasn’t exposed to the “real world” until the ripe age of eighteen, I managed to learn a lot in a short time. After several failed attempts at having a boyfriend, I met a great guy, graduated from college, got married and had a baby. All of that happened really fast, and I learned more than I had imagined I would by the age of twenty-one. With all of that experience, did I lose the naivety? I would like to say I lost quite a bit, but sadly some stuck to me like bare thighs on a vinyl car seat. I still trusted people more than I should have. Having an immense amount of trust will allow one to gain “friends” quickly. Though in my case, I found that I didn’t gain true friends, but rather users- people who would pretend to be friends in order to get what they wanted but then stab me in the back when they were done. Part of me wants to close myself off and not allow this to happen again, and another part tells me to not predict the actions of others based upon past experiences. Everyone deserves a fair chance. Am I right? Otherwise, how would anyone be friends, business partners, or even husband and wife? Is being a little naive healthy or harmful?