This is the fourth in my series of 30 posts to friends, mentors, and teachers who have inspired me over the past few years. I hope you enjoy.

Dear B,

Boy, oh boy, did I learn a lot from you. My “assignment” with you wasn’t graceful or easy. It was funky. I made a lot of decisions I lived to regret, and I spent alot of time yo-yo-ing in my head about whether you did or didn’t deserve a spot in my life.

It would be easy to say you were a jerk, and selfish, but that’s really not it at all — you made your priorities clear from the start, and when I decided to let you sneak in the back door to my heart I knew full well I was only going to be allowed a very small part of yours. I was a slave to the small amount of attention you gave me and tormented by the fact that you never seemed to miss me. I tried (oh did I try!) to convince you how witty, and glamorous, and fun-loving I could be. Still, you kept your distance insisting there was no reason for things to get “serious.”

I’d get confident enough to leave you in the dust, and then boom, you’d show up again. Whispering something adorable in my ear. Saying you had to see me later. Secretly I knew our little flings were about adrenaline and the rush — I really didn’t even know you well enough to have any sort of serious feelings.

I look back at all of it now, and, yes, it makes me cringe a little. I wish I had loved me a little bit more. I wish I had really, truly been brave enough to be on my own — instead of keeping you around to convince myself I wasn’t lonely, or ugly, or perpetually single.

But I’m also very proud of that Kate. That Kate took some risks. That Kate let you in. That Kate was just starting to make her own decisions, to chart her own course. So no, this isn’t an easy, breezy thank-you. It makes me feel a little bit uncomfortable (but that’s how growing brighter, bigger, and bolder feels). Thank you B, for being a teacher.

I was fascinated with my generation’s “hook-up” culture, and this is one of the quotes from “Unhooked” (a book dedicated to that topic) that I’ve always kept with me:

“Most girls eventually realize that getting a guy to sleep with you is just a fancy way of letting a guy sleep with you. Guys aren’t so picky about who they sleep with. You begin to ask yourself, are you like currency? It can be very taxing.”