This year, I’ve been working on my openness. Typically I’ve been the rock and sounding board for others, which left me in a place of being unable to express myself emotionally- good and bad. These practices in vulnerability have left me sometimes exhausted, sometimes exhilarated, but always growing and grateful. While working on my openness, I’ve decided to share a little something that I’ve been having trouble with lately.
Before I go into the content today, I want to do a little scene setting:
Picture it: You’re on the couch bored, and like most people, you’ll find yourself reaching on your phone for a social media break. It’s one of those seasons where good news is all across your feed- an engagement ring here, a few sonogram baby announcements there, a couple of elopements around the corner… the usual. As you add your congratulatory message among the hundreds, you see a phrase repeated in the well-wishes, and it stands out… “Congrats, girl! You deserve it!”
Deserve? This is a seemingly harmless wish, but I have some issues.
Let me be honest, I have a hard time with this particular word. I looked it up in a few different sources like the true nerd that I am), and it’s generally defined as “merit or worthiness based on a particular action or quality.” So, as my mind does the thing, I think of how this is in great contrast to the my Christian upbringing. In faith-based communities, it is often touted that the things we have (money, jobs, possessions) are not ours, and we don’t deserve them through any acts that we’ve performed. In fact, the source of many of our #blessings is God’s grace and mercy working on our behalf. So when it comes to this world of families and relationships, where does the narrative change?
I read Emma Lindsay’s post on Medium titled “Being Single Is Hard” the other day, and some of the themes in it still resonate with me. We really do need people. My world has been changing in the last 5 years or so, with many of the friends I’ve made from birth until now going on to marry, start their own families, and do awesome things. I understand and accept the natural drifting that comes when your focus changes. More often than not, I’m perfectly fine in this. There are moments, though, when I wish there was someone around to discuss before I take on a giant purchase, or even to just discuss the (many, many, many) things on my mind. Just the idea of a presence to lean on would be comforting, considering the year I’ve had.
However, what stood out most in Emma’s piece is that one of her friends somehow suggested that she not date for a while to “work on herself.” I almost fumed at this line, because I’ve heard it (and seen it) thousands of times. Let’s be frank: I’ve spent the entirety of my twenties not in a relationship. I’ve done the soul-searching, the list-making, the fasting, the praying, the not thinking about it, the thinking about it, the being myself, the not being myself, the putting myself out there (and subsequently retreating like the colored girl I am when the creeps were enuf), the being okay
with where I am, the not being as okay with where I am, etc., etc., etc… And if that isn’t considered “the work,” then what exactly is?
“Go travel,” they say. *shows pictures of my last overseas trip*
“You should learn to enjoy your own company before you invite others into the equation,” they say. I’m an INFJ whose primary love languages are quality time and acts of service. I may currently live alone, but I still thrive on hearing another voice on the other side of the phone, rather than text messages for everything. I would say I’m sorry, but I’m not a good liar anyway.
“If you don’t love you, how will anybody else?” This little bit of sad-vice been meme’d across the internet, and I blame the linen suited relationship peddlers (and their fake deep followers) for this one. I find this idea tough to grasp, too, because I find it wholly untrue. First of all, I love the mess out of myself. Mess and all. I’ve learned my quirks and embrace them. I pause throughout the day to think of things I appreciate about myself and the world around me. I’m flipping brilliant, have a heap of hobbies, and I bring my awesome humor to any situation I find myself in. Your babies and animals trust me. I know what I want in a partner, and I don’t believe in settling for any situationships or friendlationships with people that can’t make up their minds. Quite literally, the name of my game is #ShutUpAndLoveMe.
With that said, I definitely agree with Emma- being single is hard, and I’m willing to step up and admit it for myself. Being that I’ve done “the work” (whatever that is in your world), and still find myself here is most curious. Quite simply… if deserving things/events/people is solely a cause and effect based on doing “the work,” wouldn’t we all be exactly where we want to be? If we deserve things based on our efforts and self improvement, why are we not all at our jobs of our dreams and with the people of our dreams? Better yet, if you don’t deserve at least an awesomely supportive partner to be around for tough times, does that mean you deserve to experience those tough times alone?
I suppose that lovely platitude about “when it’s your time, it’s your time” is a good answer for that, but for me… it’s not enough. I have lots of questions, and plenty of time to think about them. What makes one “deserve” over another? Is it an all-or-nothing game, or one where the rules don’t count or make any sense?
I think I’ve done enough here. Maybe I do deserve, and I don’t even know it. What do you all think– am I simply overthinking this, or is there some merit to this thought? Let me know in the comments.
PS- I saved y’all from an obvious Momma Dee reference. I deserve your accolades for that, if not anything else.