You Can’t Buy Me Love, But I Sure As S*#@ Tried

You Can’t Buy Me Love, But I Sure As S*#@ Tried

A lesson in self-worth, courtesy of a young Ashley Allyn

When I was a little girl, I attended an elementary school without buses. My mom drove me to and from school in a monstrous green boat of a Buick, with huge spanning bench seats. Everything, and I mean everything, in the car was green – the exterior, rug, dashboard, seats. It felt like riding in a luxurious, moss-filled road yacht. If it had been a clown car, it probably would have fit 50 clowns. No joke.

My mom and I listened to oldies on the radio every day. Even now, I amaze my boyfriend with my knowledge of obscure old songs. Does anyone know the 1954 hit, Three Coins in the Fountain? Yeah, I do.

I never knew the artists, except for Johnny Mathis due to my mom’s massive crush, but I knew the lyrics. That’s why it’s a little more than disappointing I never took heed of a very wise adage by The Beatles. The lesson was right there, blaring out on KBSG Oldies, in constant, catchy, repetition nearly everyday.

Can’t buy me lo-ove!

If you’ve read my post about Little Debbie, you already know I suffered from food addiction, serious self-esteem issues, and insecurity about my weight. I obsessed about my weight well into my 30’s and the decades were littered with eating disorders, yo-yo diets, Atkins, rigorous gym workouts, you name it.

I now know I had issues with depression and anxiety, so in combination with my insecurity, I really felt like a loser. I now know I wasn’t alone in these thoughts; schools were, and are, filled with kids feeling exactly like this, every day.

In gym class, I was always one of the very last to be chosen for any team. It sounds stupid, but our infantile need for validation runs deep. (Except for kick ball – my sturdy log of a leg could really send that red rubber ball flying)

None of the boys chased me around pretending they didn’t like me when they secretly did, and even if I’d considered running after a boy there was no way in hell I’d actually catch him. Disaster waiting to happen there.

I envisioned myself face down in the dirt (insert Carrie’s ‘They’re all going to laugh at you’ here), my pink paisley high water jeans smeared with mud. And my pink sweater. And socks and Keds. My mom had a serious need for color coordination.

I first learned the magic in garnering friends by giving things away from my neighbor. Let’s call him Arthur. Arthur was a year older than me and I desperately wanted him to like me. I’m not sure why… Arthur was kind of an a@#hole. I could probably write a full post on the multitude of ways Arthur terrorized me during my childhood. Hmmm… lightbulb. Anyway, I remember giving him one of my He-Man figurines. He was nice to me for that entire day.

In truth, he might have bullied me into giving it to him; I can’t really remember. But it worked! He was my friend for the whole day.

Yes! Success!

So there you have it folks: Psychology 101. I fell right into the cunning trap of the Positive Reinforcement Schedule. I was hooked.

I decided to take this model a little further and began sneaking into my mom’s purse to steal change. She had one of those gigantic purses, deep and mysterious, where things get lost forever and the loose tobacco at the bottom is equivalent to a whole pack of cigarettes. There was a piggy bank within those dark pockets.

I filled Ziplock baggies with small handfuls of change, like maybe a dollar in each. I hid them in my room and took the baggies to school in my ‘My Little Pony’ lunchbox. I distinctly remember the sound of change rattling and clanging around, knocking against plastic like a secret eager to reveal itself.

At lunch, I opened up my red lunchbox, usually a sad display of celery, carrots, and a dry turkey sandwich, to reveal shiny coins adorned in plastic baggies.

Kids to money is like flies on s@*#. They see it and smell it from a million miles away. What kid hasn’t experienced filthy change fingers; the joyous process of counting dirty coins. I soon had a cluster of classmates around me, peering into my treasure trove.

“What are you going to do with that?” someone asked.

“I’m going to give it away,” I said, matter of factly.

I instructed the boys to gather at the end of the table and threw one bag at a time. I watched them fumble and slam into each other, like a bunch a pre-pubescent barbarians, with glee. You can’t make this s@*# up, people. I actually did this.

I repeated this for two more days before realizing the attention was short lived. Once the shoving and pushing and pocketing of the money was over, so was my importance. Just as it was with Arthur, once he had my He-Man and the next day had arrived, he was back to trying to get me to lie down in the road so he could use me as a bike jump.

I was a fairly quick study. A bit nuts, but my experiments yielded quick results.

This story is not only a completely humiliating recounting of my childhood, it is also a lesson that has followed me into adulthood. I have been reminded of it, again and again:

Unfortunately, people will often take what you’re willing to give, with no intention of reciprocation or appreciation. Sometimes, we give willingly and gracefully, with no need for anything in return – and this is beautiful. But, other times, we devalue ourselves in tremendously unhealthy ways.

Don’t chase after people who aren’t chasing you back. Don’t give of yourself to people whose lack of appreciation can crush your self worth. Don’t spoil people with attention or monetary items in hopes to buy their affection or acceptance. Don’t settle for less than you deserve. Don’t do it.

Take heed of The Beatles and young Ashley.

– Ashley

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Related reading:

My Sordid Affair With Little Debbie

My Posse – Meet Ken

You can't buy me love but I sure as s tried, the messy badass, ashley allyn
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