WHEN I was 10, with a physique of Olive Oyl and sporting the haircut of a primary schoolboy (thanks, dad), I had a crush on Charlie, a twenty-something guitarist. He used to play the guitar for our carolling sessions during Christmas.

In keeping with the ethos of prepubescent crushes, I never told him a thing. I was 10 after all and children do develop crushes as arbitrarily as food preferences.

He didn’t have a clue. Nevertheless, he made me want to sing the loudest, learn up new carols fastest and try to sing the best way I can.

I studiously learnt how good singers sang and imitated them in an effort to impress him. I never missed a day of carol practice and I doted on him like a love-struck child.

However, in keeping with the ephemeral nature of crushes, my fixation on guitar-strumming Charlie soon faded (although he remained one of my dearest friends) as I grew up.

What remained was my love for music and the ability to belt out a song. Charlie was my first real crush and he wasn’t the last.

Through the years, I’ve collected crushes with the wonder of a child and kept them all in my compartment of memories — relishing the experience and learning from each one of them.

The biggest lesson I’ve learnt over time is that crushes never ever go out of style — at least where I’m concerned.

They can hit you at any age, any time, and anywhere.

You’ll soon learn that the schoolgirl phenomenon of “crushing” never quite dissipates along with teenage acne and training bras.

Art of crushing

Racing pulse, an urge to stalk the object of your crush, and the sudden ability to procure useless information about the object of your desire (you know his birthdate, car number plate, favourite band, his deodorant brand and that his third molar is slightly discoloured as compared to the rest of his perfect teeth).

Okay, it may not be love. It’s probably not love. In fact, it may just be lust. Or infatuation. Or furious longing tinged with hope. But whatever it is and however you feel, you don’t necessarily have to act on it. No matter how old you are or your relationship statuses, crushes are really harmless — if you recognise it for what it is and not treat it as a signal to channel Kathy Bates in Misery.

Can crushes be beneficial? Yes, says Jason Hughes, founder of Leicester Centre for Psychodynamic Counselling.

He points out that crushes are not only totally normal but can actually offer plenty of benefits.

According to Hughes: “Crushes help us to feel alive, help us to feel, and help us to imagine — this is especially important when we might feel that we’re trapped in a routine, stuck in a job or relationship where there’s little new and vibrant — they highlight what we might want, what we might be missing — who we might want to be rather than (just) who we might want to be with.”

elena@nst.com.my

GOOD FOR THE WORKPLACE

Naturally, if you recognise the transient nature of crushes, you might just be able to enjoy the process of crushing on a hot male co-worker and still make a splash (and not a splat) in the office.

Sometimes the road to greatness can not only be paved by mind-numbing work assignments but also the glorious hot male co-worker standing by the office cooler.

Here’s how you can turn your crushes into wins at the workplace.

1 Your wardrobe gets a transformation

Messy hair, bare face and barely-ironed blouses are now things of the past. You’ve rediscovered the joys of make-up and have taken casual Fridays out of your vocabulary. Looking good is imperative.

Impact to Career: Five Brownie Points.

Looking well put-together as any work expert will point out would make you seem more professional. And to be honest, more human too. You start waxing your upper lips and legs and stop looking like Chewbacca.

2 Health is wealth

Having a headache? Yes. Running a temperature? Yes. Pre-office crush days would have you calling in and getting an MC. Now? Forget it. The prospect of running into eye-candy at office has you swallowing Panadols and sucking it up so you could get to work. You’re in queue of getting Worker Of The Year Award for perfect attendance now.

Impact to Career: 10 Brownie Points

In the corporate world, attendance is everything. But if you enter the office bringing with you the latest strain of chicken pox or the bubonic plague, minus 50 Brownie Points.

3 Early to work and last to leave

Pre-office crush days, you’d be crawling in barely on time and leaving as soon as you can. However, with hot male co-worker lurking around the vicinity, chances are you’ve realised that the extra hours in the workplace would bring your office-crush sightings up. And before you can blink your mascaraed eyes, you’re now a workaholic!

Impact to Career: Two Brownie Points

Okay-lah, let’s be honest. You’re just keeping one glazed eye on the computer screen while the other is searching out the vicinity. And time is usually spent analysing with your bestie on your latest conversation with hot male co-worker (“What do you think he meant by saying I look well? Does he think I’m fat?”)

4 Your posture improves and you lose weight

Forget doing an excellent impression of a Neanderthal hunching over your computer, dribbling biscuit crumbs over your keyboard. Now you sit upright, banished the cookies and tuck in your stomach. After all, hot male co-worker might just be walking by.

Impact to Career: Six Brownie Points

Better posture, more oxygen to the brain. That means you work better and the fact that you’ve stopped eating idli or nasi lemak at your desk like a loser with no friends might also help you shed the excess weight, which would lead to more Brownie Points on looking good (Read No. 1 again).

So whether you’re scribbling his name in little drawn hearts within your notebook or peeking over your computer to check out what he’s wearing, enjoy the feeling for what it is — something that brightens your day and gets you all giddy like a perfect glass of champagne. A little indulgence is good. After all, a little crush can’t kill us. Or can it?

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