For the most part of life, using well-thought-out plans and strategies to get to your goal works. Yet in one particular aspect of life, using agent-like tactics will make you look like a major creep or worse, land you in jail.
It’s not easy to write about this. It’s an experience I’d rather burry in the past along with other rookie mistakes I’ve made regarding human interaction. However, I think there’s a good amount of lessons—like what goes on in the mind of stalker and what drives them to do things borderline creepy—that I can share from this short-lived shameful experience. I can’t speak for everyone, especially for those with actual mental problems. What I can offer are some insights on recurring themes and thoughts I have personally discovered upon looking back at certain memories.
I was a former stalker. No, not the “looking at someone’s social media profile” type of stalker—Pffft! Amateurs!—a real-life stalker. The type who follows you around to take pictures of you. Now, before I shoot myself further in the foot with this confession, I’d like to clarify that at the time these events occurred, I was in 6th grade and 1st year high school with next to no experience (properly) interacting with crushes and the sort.
The first incident I can remember was with a girl let’s call Sunshine. I met Sunshine at a national press conference event and if I remember correctly, it was a week-long event. I was competing as an editorial cartoonist. There was a foot parade and all the competitors from the Bicol Region were arranged according to province. Before the day of the parade, I kept seeing Sunshine from time to time in prior gatherings and she caught my attention. She had a beautiful smile that matched her name. During the parade, I saw her at the area where the competitors from Masbate Province gathered. After that, I made it an agenda to have a photo with her to keep as a souvenir. The 6th grade me could think of nothing else during the foot parade other than how I can have a picture with Sunshine. When the parade ended, I approached her and asked her, to which she politely said yes. I found out she was a 4th year high school student but I couldn’t care less for I had a huge crush.
A normal boy would stop there and be glad he got a picture of his crush. Well, if that’s what happened I wouldn’t be writing this story today. The next day we were back at the inn where participants from Bicol Region were staying. I was exploring the place when I saw Sunshine and her classmates having fun by the poolside. A more normal way to go about things would be to say hi and ask if I could join. Or at least go about with my business as usual. Instead, what I did was climb up a hill and live the paparazzi dream. The pool was located beneath a hillside with trees. At the time, I thought I was being a safe, little genius by going uphill and whipping out my phone to snap all the photos of Sunshine I could. Click, click, click! It lasted for several minutes. I was moving from one hiding spot to another. I thought I was invisible. Then came a shout.
“Stop na pictures please! (Please stop taking photos!)” Sunshine obviously saw me and I came running down the hill and back to the room I was staying filled with embarrassment.
The next incident was back in my freshman year in high school. This is when the stalker tactics turned up a notch. I had a crush on a 3rd year student, who we shall call Betty. She was an active student, always participating in extracurricular activities, so she was quite famous in our small high school.
I had a huge crush on Betty and I did everything to get as much information about her as I can in any way possible except by actually talking to her. I befriended her neighbor, who’s also her cousin. Indirectly, I got her number and sent her text messages for a while. Until she got really creeped out when she found out about the amount of info I had on her, and you can guess how that turned out.
As of now I don’t know where Sunshine is anymore. I never saw her again after the press conference. As for Betty, she’s made quite a name for herself. And for the record, I didn’t find out about this by stalking her or anything. We have mutual friends on social media and once in a blue moon, I see posts about her. That’s it.
Now, what did I learn from those incident aside from the obvious that stalking is not cool? I thought about it and here are what I found out.
I realized that the lack of social skills I had back then prevented me from having a normal interaction with people I particularly like. Combine that with zero courage, I resorted to dubious tactics to collect information that I thought would give me an edge if ever I interact with them. I was clueless back then. I overcomplicated stuff. A lot of things could have been prevented if I just casually approached and made friends. As a person who grew up playing video games, I thought that there were tools I needed to collect or a step by step quest I needed to do to get to the person I like. Turns out life isn’t some Super Mario or Zelda game. It’s far more complicated than that. Maybe some stalkers are the same; they don’t really know how to go about with their feelings so they use the tactics they think will work. They need to be reminded that it won’t.
I also found out that I’ve put people on pedestals. That I’ve seen them in an unrealistic light not as fallible humans, but as some ideal, or a fantasy, or a constant source of fascination. All these led me to obsess about certain people in the past.
I remember when I arrived home from the press conference. I still had Sunshine’s picture on my phone and I looked at it every day until I got sick of it and realized she wasn’t that pretty to me anymore. At the time, I can guess that I had finally stopped putting her in a pedestal and I woke up to the reality.
I would say it’s a natural reaction to be creeped out by stalkers. To be disgusted with them. I am in no way justifying their actions, they are wrong and should be punished accordingly if they go too far. However, stalkers are not only guilty of violating someone’s right to peace and privacy, but they are also victims of themselves. Lack of social skills, self-esteem combined with obsessive tendencies is a recipe of a stalker in the making.
At the end of the day, I think we should also look at them as people who need help and people who need to be reminded how human interaction should be, how boundaries should be treated, and how each individual are not quests but another flawed human being just like them who deserve to be treated with basic human decency.
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