Dressed in a crisp white shirt, tucked into slim fitting grey dress pants held up by a black leather belt, he looked apprehensive. He must have felt me looking at him cause he glanced over at me after he finished loading the parking meter.
I knew him.
“Brian?” I called out.
He did a quick double take and smiled, “Hey Alissa!”
We were both heading into Chipotle as we started chatting.
Brian was a friend from elementary school, two years my senior. I’d only seen him a handful of times since then — the last time being a few years ago when I was still in undergrad and he was just starting law school.
We both were on a lunch break from our jobs, so we only had a few moments to talk but managed to cram in quick updates on ourselves, our families, and our career. He was working at a law firm downtown, but getting ready to leave the 9-5 to take up traveling and working on a new business venture he started in Hawaii fulltime. We talked about entrepreneurship and the importance of finding what you love to do and doing it now while we’re still young.
After getting our food, we promised to catch up again in a few weeks and went our separate ways.
As I walked away, I began to think: who convinced women there are no good men left?
Here was a man who was checking off everything on the proverbial list: attractive, well-dressed, law school graduate, ambitious, church-going, member of a large immediate family, nice as can be and single with no kids, exwives, or criminal record. This guy was a perfect example of the men “still out there” and he is certainly not the only one.
Since our conversation, I’ve been wondering: who convinced women that they missed the Happily-Ever-After boat?
Blogs? Ironically many of those “what men want from women” blogs are written by men who most women don’t want anyway. We put SO much emphasis on the opinion of a man we’ve never even met! His avatar isn’t even a picture of him. Give me a break. These handful of men purport to speak for the entire gender while describing fantastical women. Instead of taking one stranger’s opinion as a grain of salt, we either work overtime in the comment section to prove that we are the women these men want or we’re genuinely insulted by their take on relationships or, worse, we are dabbing tears out of our eyes because we’ve allowed them to make us feel inadequate. No matter our reaction, more often than not, we are letting men who hide behind pseudonyms and cartoon avatars give US a complex! I’m not saying some of these authors don’t have great things to say, but the weight of their opinion is way too great in too many women’s lives. There are six billion people in the world and we’re going to let ONE speak for them ALL?
Books? Steve Harvey is married to his third wife. Hill Harper isn’t married at all. They are the only two even worth mentioning and neither one is Jesus Christ with the Answer nor Miss Cleo with a crystal ball. As I said about male bloggers: sure they have great things to say, but while our noses are stuck in their books, we’re missing the great men in front of our faces. If we want to listen to a male author on relationships, then let’s listen to Greg Behrendt co-author of He’s Just Not That Into You‘s simple advice: “Don’t waste the pretty.”
TV NewsSpecials? I love my black reporters, anchors and talk show hosts. Love. Them. But I am not them. I don’t have some multimillion dollar, look gorgeous every minute, face on TV every day job. I (like the majority of their audience) am a regular person, with a regular day job whom no man is everintimidated by. Oprah’s perpetual single state has about as much to do with me as her bank balance: nada. So doing a TV special on why black women are unmarried and using these ultraglamorous, ultrasuccessful, or (on the flipside) ultrabitter women is unproductive for one reason: I don’t see me on TV.
Let’s not even get into the magazine articles whose headlines are darn near insulting: Why Are Black Women So Broke/Single/Unhappy/Fat/Depressed? Ummm say what now? Black women don’t have a corner on any misery market. And every black women is not a member of the pity party.
We know that yet why have we allowed anyone to convince us that all hope is gone?
I’ve never seen anyone turn into a pumpkin on their 30th birthday.
Talking to Brian that day really got me wondering if our access to a constant stream of information has divorced us from reality.
I have my own war stories to tell, but those alone – as heartbreaking as they were – weren’t what made the situation seem hopeless. It was my own stories combined with my best friends’ stories, combined with my Facebook friends’ stories, my Twitter followers’ stories, the news articles and the blogs and magazines. Suddenly, one rejection (that was really God’s protection) is an omen: I am destined to be alone….unless – of course – I learn to cook, practice yoga, have sex on the first date, remain a virgin until marriage, pay off all debt, stop being dependent, guard against being independent, stop cursing, start drinking, read the newspaper every day, rock my natural hair, wear a 18-inch Indian Remy, grow a booty, lose my boobs, gain weight, drop weight, get my nails done every week, go to church, don’t go to church, keep my car clean, dance like Beyonce, dress like Kim Kardashian, volunteer, travel the world, speak a new language, remain committed to the ‘hood I grew up in, get a degree, watch sports, date interracially, remain loyal to black men, pick up a hobby, shun ambition, be ambitious…it’s exhausting! Our prerequisites for being in a good, loving relationship read more like a bucket list of things to do before we die!
When will someone say, “unless you are in an illegal, dangerous or emotionally/physically/mentally abusive relationship there is absolutely nothing you have to do, nothing you have to change to get the love you want”? You don’t even have to “wait for love and let it find you” if you don’t want to.
That advice doesn’t sell books or magazines or propel you from Twitter to a commenter on CNN’s next “Special”, but it’s the truth anyhow.
Self-improvement is inevitable, but you’re not five pounds away from the love of your life. Your natural (or relaxed) hair isn’t keeping you from finding a man. Your degree isn’t intimidating the guy you’re supposed to end up with. If you want to change some things about yourself, do it! But if you don’t have the slightest desire to cook a Ramen Noodle on the stove much less a full meal, you can still get married to a man who loves your non-cooking self. And, being brutally honest here, you could change a million and one things about yourself and that doesn’t guarantee love either. We’ve all spent too much money on an outfit hoping to “accidentally” bump into a man who remained unimpressed – or worse – didn’t even show up. Why bother?
If you haven’t rode off into the sunset with your Prince Charming yet, that doesn’t mean you never will. I truly believe Walt Disney was right: the glass slipper will fit, the beast turns into your prince, he will kiss you before your time runs out.
There are still good guys out there. The shortage is a myth. It’s propaganda used to sell books and increase TV ratings. People are out here meeting the love of their life every single day: why are you so convinced it won’t happen for you?
Even the warped statistics can’t help but tell the truth: the likelihood of you ending up alone is less than the likelihood of you meeting a guy to spend the rest of your life with (or at least a good chunk of it.) The man you want may already be in your life. Or maybe you haven’t met him yet, but you know he is out there somewhere.
I think it was Aristotle who summed it up best: If something’s bound to happen, it will happen…Right time, right person, and for the best reason.
In the words of India Arie: there’s hope.