Heath Ledger’s Australian accent. Julia Stiles as the spunky, feminist Kat Stratford. The joys of high school played out on the big screen. An adorably young Joseph Gordon-Levitt. If I haven’t caught your attention already, then I’ve failed you.
10 Things I Hate About You is one of the not-so-hidden gems of the 90s. Having only been six when this movie came out, it took me 15 more years to really appreciate it. But at 21 years old, my first encounter with Kat Stratford and Patrick Verona had me laughing, crying, and freaking out over the fact that Kat was me. I was Kat. We were one. Kat is an obnoxiously opinionated, self-righteous, fearless, heinous shrew, and I am Kat with better fashion sense. (But we can’t blame her for those gaudy flip-flops and tacky cargo pants, it was the 90s after all.)
And just like Kat probably didn’t expect to fall in love, I didn’t expect to fall in love. Then two weeks after my 22nd birthday, I did. Here’s what happens when you’re the Kat Stratford of your group and you fall in love.
- You’re always waiting for the ball to drop. It’s pretty weird when a guy actually likes you. You wait weeks for the ball to drop. You play the “No, don’t text him first” game until you realize that when he said he wasn’t going anywhere, he actually meant it. It isn’t until you’re at a party and you think he’s lying to you about who his brother is that you realize you’re being ridiculous. (Read: He may or may not have to literally yell in your ear that he will never lie to you. And then you still won’t believe him.)
- You want to slap yourself for wondering what he’s doing or if he’s having a good day. Until you met your SO, you prided yourself on being relatively heartless. It sounds horrible, but it’s true. It’s much easier to go through life without caring about someone. When you’re at work trying to get shit done and thoughts of him and things he’s said keep interrupting your thought process, you start getting really annoyed. Then you realize that you literally can’t control it, which drives you absolutely insane. But you love it.
- Sometimes you just start smiling really dumb and then you try to put on your resting bitch face so nobody can tell. “I’m a stone cold bitch with an iron heart that’s incapable of loving.” And then the, “Looking forward to seeing you later!” text comes in and you become a fucking ball of stupid smiley, sometimes giddy mush. It sucks. Except it doesn’t.
- You become a total sap, but try to hide it—even from your SO. You think you were good at daydreaming before you fell in love? You’ll think things that you would never actually say to a person because they’re so corny. Not even Oprah would say this sappy shit. Adele was your spirit songstress before, now she is like an angel sent from the heavens to put every feeling you’ve ever felt into song. Sometimes you’ll just feel like crying and you won’t even know why, but don’t worry, they’re mostly happy tears. You will not tell anyone any of this because heaven forbid they find out you have a soul.
- Opening up to your SO will be the scariest thing you ever do. When they figure out what makes you tick (and if they’re the right person, they’ll probably figure it out before you even explain it to them), it will scare the shit out of you. There is nothing that freaks you out more than being vulnerable, but they’ll push you to be. And you’ll be terrified to take down your walls, but you will because you love them.
- The moment you realize they’ve become your best friend will be one of the happiest in your life. When you realize that your relationship is not just a physical and mental attraction, but also a friendship, you will feel so incandescently happy you won’t know what to do with yourself. They will make you laugh so hard you want to cry, they will be the person who sends you a text they know will make you laugh mid-day Monday, and they will be the one you want to share everything with.
- You’ll actually start paying attention to the things they like, and you’ll become invested in them. The things that matter to them become important to you, and suddenly you go from being a Bruins fan to a Lightning fan and your dad is threatening to disown you. But you’re in love, so you don’t mind. You start keeping a list in your phone of their favorite foods and drinks, what they want for Christmas, and what brunch places you two need to hit next.
- You won’t feel like you ever have to explain yourself. They’ll just get it, because they get you. And that might be the best feeling ever. They can tell when you’re disappointed, or annoyed, or happy by just looking at you. They can tell when you’ve had a bad day by the sound of your voice on the phone. They can tell when you’re trying to be strong so you don’t break down, and even more importantly, they can tell when it’s time for them to be strong so you can break down.
- You’ll learn that sometimes being strong means being vulnerable. Before falling in love, being strong meant never crying, never feeling anything you didn’t want to feel. Before falling in love, being vulnerable meant telling someone your grandmother died. After falling in love, being vulnerable meant telling the person you love that your grandmother dying nearly killed you and that it’s the reason you almost always cry on New Years. You’ll also learn that being strong, being vulnerable, never gets easy—but it’s easier when you have the support of someone who will never leave your side.
- Some days you’ll hate yourself for loving this person. Giving yourself to someone was never going to come easy for you, and when it happened, you didn’t even realize it. Then when you realize that your heart belongs to this person, that the very thought of them leaving is enough to move you to tears, you push. You will yourself to hate them so they back away. You tell yourself being alone is easier than risking heartbreak. But they’ll catch on to you and when you push, they’ll pull, and the moment they’ve reeled you back into their arms, you’ll know you’re a goner. Because no matter how hard you try, you could never hate them. Not even a little bit, not even at all.