I have only recently come to understand that I am a lot more immature and naïve than I had believed myself to be.

I always thought I was very mature because, even as a child, I spent a lot of my time with older children, teenagers and adults. I know, now, that I was just very good at pretending.
I have a keen talent to be able to transform into the type of person that reflects the situation or demographic of which I am surrounded.

While this has served me well in life, it has also caused me trouble. When I moved to the city, I thought I was mature and “street-smart” enough to handle it.

The fact that I was not became glaringly obvious when I found myself walking home from my part-time job at a thrift store, holding hands with a much older man whom I barely knew because I didn’t know how to get rid of him and I was afraid to stop it.

I was afraid to stop it.

This person had started coming-into the store and I was as small-town friendly with him as I was with everyone else I met in the big city. He started to visit more frequently and just hang-around me. Added to my naivety was the fact that, at the time, I believed I was on a mission from god to reach-out to every poor person in the city and give myself wholly to them as a vessel.

This man showed-up one day just as we were closing and asked if I wanted to go out after work. When I declined he asked if I wanted to go to his place. When I declined that offer, he asked if he could come over to my place. I declined again. He kept pressing me, and I was starting to feel rude, flustered and nervous, so when he asked if he could walk me home I said ‘uh…I guess…’

The next thing I knew, he was holding my hand.

I froze.

I was panicking inside. I didn’t have a clue what to do.

I didn’t want to be rude to him, because in my mind I was meant to be there to help people as a vessel of god and as a christian, I shouldn’t be rude.

So, I let him hold my hand and walk me home.

Thankfully, I didn’t live by myself. I lived in a ‘ministry house’ with 3 other adults (all of us had moved to the area to volunteer in the community.

Also, thankfully, there was an after-school program happening there at the time, so when he asked, again, if he could come in I had an honest answer ready to give: ‘No, sorry, there is a program happening right now.’

When we got to the door I, politely, shook my hand free of his and when he asked if he could have my phone # I said “uh, can you wait here a minute?’

I went inside and explained to one of my male friends, who was leading the after school group, what was happening. He came back to the door with me and talked to the man, explaining that he was my boyfriend (he wasn’t) and asking him to, please, leave me alone (in a polite, godly way).

But, the man kept coming to my workplace and talking to me. He came back the next day and said ‘why didn’t you tell me you had a boyfriend? You let me hold your hand.’

I told my boss what had happened and my boss instructed me to go to the back area of the store that was for employees only and inform him whenever the man entered the store.
I did as instructed and my boss, who was a massive man from Trinidad, would go and tower over the man and tell him to leave and never approach me again.

I felt so embarrassed.

I was so young.