jdeena

Never settle for what is…come tomorrow it will be what was

Tag: happiness

Online Dating Woes, Part 2

So last week I joined another dating website. I figure that I need to try all avenues before truly giving up on ever finding a partner. So, I filled out my profile, writing about my passions, my activism, my writing. I filled out all of the categories. I put together a really great profile, if I do say so myself. Of course, I did add a few pictures, as I personally loathe it when someone has one grainy photo of himself.

Imagine my surprise when almost every single message I received was about my looks. And they weren’t even clever openers. For example:

TypicalGuy1 (not his real screen name): You look gorgeous.

Me: That’s because I am. Anything else in my profile catch your attention?

TypicalGuy1: To be honest your shirt that has your country’s flag.

Me: Ok…anything else you READ in my profile not related to my pictures catch your attention?

TypicalGuy1: Why? Do I have a quiz?

Me: Well, if the only thing that prompted you to contact me was my looks, then I’m not interested. I have more to offer than my looks.

I have yet to hear back from him.

WHY? Why is it that with everything I have to offer, my looks are what drive men to contact me? Oh, I know, initially something has to prompt you to want to talk to someone, but I would hope that after my looks, reading my profile and seeing all that I do would be more of an incentive to want to talk to me. What I really want to say when a guy tells me “you’re so hot” or “wow you’re gorgeous” is “yea, I know.” Because I do know. I am not being conceited. I know I have good looks. And enough people have said it that over the years I’ve started believing it. But that is NOT what I want to be known for.

The other thing that annoys me are the questions about my virginity. Why is it that every single guy just HAS TO ask that within five minutes of conversation? Are we really that regressive that we still judge women by their sexuality? Why does it matter either way? When I bring these points up after being asked, I am told to “calm down” and that I am “overreacting.” Overreacting? Did I ask about your sexual status? Did I try and judge you solely by something that neither is your business nor your right to know?

So here I thought this dating site would be different. Here I thought that I would be able to find some men who were more enlightened. Not to say I haven’t has some decent guys message me. I have. Or I have, somewhat. So many are getting smarter, and will mask their misogyny by pretending to be interested in me, but then once we exchange numbers, turn it all around. Thank God for being able to block numbers.

Lastly are the Muslim guys who will flat out judge me for being on this site. Um, hello- you are as well! Why is ok for you and not me? For example:

TypicalGuy2: Why are you on here? (yes, his opening line)

Me: For the same reason as you, I suppose.

TypicalGuy2: Isn’t that inappropriate for someone like you?

Me: How so? I’m just trying to meet someone.

TypicalGuy2: Well, I’m just looking out for you, I don’t think it’s right.

Me: I don’t need you to lookout for me, I can take care of myself.

TypicalGuy2: So you’re being a bitch to me and I’m trying to help you. Nice.

Me: This conversation is over.

TypicalGuy2: Why? Because I was trying to be nice and you’re a bitch? That’s the thanks I get?

Me: Conversation is over.

He continues to message me, until I finally block and report him. As if I need harassment on top of his judgement. Seriously, what is wrong with you men?

Bottom line: using any online dating site leaves you to be disappointed. People are rarely who they say they are, their pictures are usually not current (or even of them), and every guy feels like a big man behind the screen- meaning he will harass, berate, or judge you if you reject his lame advances. You might ask why I continue to torture myself, and the answer is simple: it’s hard for me to meet people, regardless of all the traveling I do. It’s nice to be able to talk to someone and get to know them, and even meet up once we are both comfortable.

And, if nothing else, all these experiences make for a good blog post. So for now, I will continue to put myself out there, hoping that someday all my efforts and patience will pay off.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Forced to Marry

I see it every day, all over my newsfeed and social media: girls are forced into marriage. No, I’m not talking about overseas in some remote country. I am talking about here in the US.  You might be thinking “Jinan, you are CRAZY!” but let me explain what I mean.

I know women have the right to choose their partner in Islam. I know no one can actually force you to get married. However, culturally, I feel that we are still bound by the obligations passed down from one generation to another. Think about it: when a woman says she doesn’t want to get married, what is your first reaction? Probably horror. Or, let me put it this way: when you meet a woman and ask her age, what is your reaction if she is over 30 and still single?

I am not singling myself out in this post, although I do face both scenarios quite often. But I am trying to open your eyes to a bigger issue in our society- one where a woman’s marital status and her ability to bear children is valued more than anything else she can offer. Just scrolling though social media and seeing how many comments a woman gets when she posts an engagement or wedding picture versus one of her new promotion or a solo trip she’s taken is enough to prove my point. However, it doesn’t seem to be enough for people to be convinced that we- as a society- are obsessed with marriage.

That point alone could have been enough to push me away from that institution; yet I chose to still become a part of it at the age of 27, when I first got engaged. To be honest (and I didn’t admit this at the time), I didn’t want to get married. I did it because my parents were becoming more and more frustrated with me, I was close to thirty, and the guy seemed decent enough. Everyone I knew would always tell me they thought something was wrong with me because I just wasn’t jumping to get married. What can I say? I just felt like I wanted to be on my own, and that I’d never find a guy who could tear me away from my singleness.

So, I got engaged. I went through the motions, made everyone happy -and then just as quickly- disappointed everyone when I took off the ring and left it on the bathroom sink before work one day. It was just two months shy of our wedding day. Yet I felt freer than I ever had that day.

Of course, everyone told me that I shouldn’t give up, and that I needed to keep an open mind. So I did, and I entered into yet another serious relationship that would be the beginning of the demise of my character.

Our culture fails to understand that we of this generation are looking for more than just a man to support us. We want a partner, someone we can love and respect and build an empire with. This second relationship chipped away at my self-confidence over 9 months. By the end of it, when he decided he wasn’t ready to get married, I was the shell of a human being. I was devastated and went into a depression so deep it consumed me. I felt lost, confused, and unmotivated. I was sure no one would ever love me, and spent my days crying and wondering what was so wrong with me that no one wanted to marry me.

And that was it- the breaking point. I went to therapy, and she asked me “why do you feel you need a man to love you to make you feel valid?” And it was such a simple question. Yet all my life, I was taught that marriage is half my faith and my culture made me feel that without a man I was nothing. I mean, just look at the questions we are asked when we meet people: How old are you? Oh, are you married? Oh, why not? I mean, are we seriously validating a woman by her marital status?

So since that day in my therapist’s office, I have vowed to work on loving myself. I have thrown myself into work and activities, focused on my writing and activism, and learned to be alone. I have a great circle of friends, but they are all married. So to count on their company proved fruitless. I go to movies alone, I go to restaurants alone; hell, I even travel alone! It’s empowering and liberating, but even more so, it shows that a woman does not need a man in order to enjoy life. I am not saying I will never get married; but I will definitely be enjoying the journey until that happens.

Do I get questions from my family and friends? Always. Everyone is scared of the “single girl” especially when she is so content in her singleness. But no matter; I don’t let it bother me. I have learned to laugh it off, and to focus on what is important to me. The way I look at it is, this is my life. Not theirs. To live your life for others will mean you will never truly live. So be content in your choices, as I have become.

They won’t like it, but then again, who cares?

Blissfully Unaware

I always wonder what it would be like for me to live a life where I was blissfully unaware.

Don’t get me wrong; I love that my mind dissects every single thing I hear and see. However, sometimes I look at how easily people float through life and think to myself, “hey, that life doesn’t look so bad.”

You might want to know what brought this up. Well, after a long hiatus from writing (I was very busy with work and just returned from a trip to Turkey), I figured I’d jump back into writing, and this subject has been on my mind for a while.

I feel that sometimes my mind over thinks things, and it would be easier for me if I didn’t over-analyze everything I came across. For instance, any time I see an article about rape, feminism, or oppression, I have to respond. I just have to. I can’t just let the post go, and move on to the next article. Something in me just rises (usually disgust) and I feel that I have to give my opinion. I know I have alienated a lot of people in this way, but frankly, I don’t care. I have passion for certain subjects, and I feel that it is my duty to combat a lot of those subjects.

However, I also am referring to being unaware in relationships. At this point in my life, any time I meet a guy I can very easily dissect the things he says and does- to the point that I will no longer be interested. You know how some people have family and friends who point out the faults of their partner? I do that all on my own. Because I know precisely what I want in a guy, it is easy for me to pick him apart when one wrong thing is said.

I know I should be more understanding. I know I shouldn’t dismiss someone so quickly; after all I wouldn’t want that done to me, right? However, I feel that the things I get most upset about are things that are extremely important to me, and so if that is the point where I start to break him down, then he can’t be the right person for me. There are certain things in my life that I am unwilling to bend on, and it isn’t enough for me for him to be indifferent. No….he must share the same passion for them as I do.

Let me explain why. I am a very motivated, outgoing, and opinionated person. I know what I like, and what I want from life. It isn’t enough for me to have someone along for the ride. I need him to be there as my co-pilot. I don’t want him to just agree with me, or change his opinion for me. I want him to be just as passionate and filled with fire as I am. I don’t need someone to tell me to “calm down” when I get heated; I want him standing by me, supporting me and telling me I have every right to be upset.

To be blissfully unaware would make my life so much easier. I could get married, have a few kids, and spend my days fitting in things that are important to me- only when my kids and husband were already taken care of, and I had the energy to do so. I often express this sentiment to my friends, and they tell me not to think that way…that my life was meant for more than that. That the way I am is absolute perfection, and that I should never wish to not have my passion.

But sometimes it gets exhausting. I get tired of constantly having to explain myself to those around me. I get frustrated when people assume things about me because I’m a feminist (not to mention 33 and single). I get tired of the battle inside me- the back and forth of two sides, wanting to find that perfect partner for myself but unwilling to bend on my ideals. I wish I could just print out a flyer that lists all my interests and what I am not willing to bend on, and pass it out to everyone I know. That way people will stop sending me or matching me up with guys who I have absolutely nothing in common with.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I am willing to wait for that person. The one guy who will love me for who I am, without making me change a part of myself. At the same time, I am not putting my life on hold for that. I will work, and stay involved, and write my awesome blog and guest pieces for magazines. My life does not revolve around finding a husband. I am pretty sure my life was meant for more than that. At the same time, I want the guy to also have his own passions and ideals. It easier when two people are living their lives apart- yet at the same time- together.

I recently read an article titled “I Want to Be Single- But with You.” And the article made so much sense. The author says “I want to live a single life with you. For our couple life, would be the equivalent of our single lives today, but together.”

That is exactly what I want. As the author said- “One day I will find you.”

And I intend to.

I’m More than My Looks

This is a topic I’ve always wanted to explore, but have had a bit of hesitation as I am afraid of how people will perceive it. Too many times, women are admired for their outer beauty and the overall appearance they present to society…but as soon as they open their mouths and start talking about ambition and independence, people automatically get turned off. And I, for one, am sick of it. And I want to know why that is.

For the last few years, every time I relay my marital status to someone (which is frustrating in of itself that I am constantly being asked to present myself according to that), the very first thing they say (99% of the time) is: “Oh my God how are you still single? You’re so beautiful!” As if being pretty is the only requirement for getting married. As if men only look for outer beauty when looking for a mate. AS IF I, AS A WOMAN, only have my looks to offer someone.

Why is it, that when people hear I am single, they don’t cry: “Oh how is this possible? You are accomplished, intelligent, and ambitious…any man would be lucky to have you!” Why is it, that instead, they use those same traits to create an excuse as to why men DON’T marry me?

I have worked VERY hard to be the person I am today. I have also gone through a lot in life, and I believe it has made me a much stronger person. One who won’t take any bullshit from others. And I pride myself on knowing what type of partner I want in life. Is that so wrong?

Why should I just “let things go” and “not be so picky” just to satisfy the majority? Just because that makes you more comfortable and will safely nestle me into the society-accepted role of “wife” doesn’t mean that it is the best decision for all involved. You are uncomfortable with my singleness? Tough. I am uncomfortable with your single-mindedness; your unwavering ability to look beyond your box to see that there is more to a woman than a status; than her looks.

Maybe I’m not meant to be married. Maybe I think this way so that I can continue to go out there and make a difference in this world. Maybe my ideas about marriage are not conventional, but that just may be because times have changed, and so have the roles of women. Yet both men and women are staying in them because they provide a level of comfort and stability. Maybe living alone presents a fear in you so debilitating that you would rather be joined in matrimony with someone you tolerate, than live alone the rest of your life. Or maybe you truly believe in marriage. Either way, do not push your ideologies on me, and tell me that I am wrong for thinking this way.

The older I get, the more I feel that I truly could not be happy in a “traditional” marriage. And by that, I mean one that is based on dated roles where the wife is the main domestic character, and the male the hunter/gatherer. And while that may work for many, I know for a fact it will not work for me.

I want something bigger; I want something MORE.

I want someone who will look at me and be inspired. I want someone who will be proud of my accomplishments and will boast about them to everyone he knows. I want someone secure enough that he will not feel bad about supporting me in my travels and endeavors. I want someone who will give me the respect I deserve, and not place my life on the back burner as he goes on to live his life. I want an equal partner. 100%.

But most of all, I want someone who will see my heart, the depth of my soul, the kindness in my eyes, and the soft words that flow from my tongue, and believe those to be the most beautiful traits in me. That he will appreciate my delicate hands for the words they type, and my lips for the inspiring words they speak. That he will notice my strong, long legs, and appreciate the way they have held me up as many times as I’ve been knocked down by the trials of life. That he will see, in me, beauty. Beauty as a whole; the mix of emotions, struggles, and success.

That he will notice me- for more than just my looks.

Emotional Stalemate

What happens when you find yourself at an emotional stalemate?

A lot of times, we are so guarded that we don’t recognize a good thing when it comes. Then, when we see how amazing it can be, we dive deep into the welcoming, warm water without any thought to safety. And we float on for a while,  enjoying this amazing feeling. Until one day, we are tossed so violently from this pool of happiness into the murky darkness of our worst imagination.

So now what?

I always talk about being secure with yourself as a female. Because we cannot expect a man to come and “save us,” nor to “complete us.” But I also feel that we need to be open to new experiences, and not let past experiences prevent us from feeling those amazing emotions that can be so addicting.

This presents a problem, though. How do you find the right balance between guarding your heart, but opening it enough to allow someone in? Is it all or none? Can you really still be guarded but open to a relationship?

As women, we are programmed to be more emotional. Yet when we try and hold back these emotions, we are seen as unfeeling and cold. I myself try to limit the strength of emotions that I share with the opposite sex. Because it isn’t fair in my eyes for a man to use those emotions to take advantage of you. However, what do you do when the guy has let HIS guard down, and now expects you to do the same?

From experience, I can tell you that you can do two things: you can also let your guard down, and expose your heart to the possibility of being hurt. Or, you can continue to hold your ground until you know the guy is being sincere. The latter option may create some problems, as the guy might feel you aren’t taking the same risk he is, and therefore he might not think you are serious about him. That’s a bit tricky, so you’ll need to play it as it comes. The first option often ends in heartbreak (at least for me).

So what do you do? It’s honestly hard to predict. I guess it depends on the guy. All I know is, I almost had my heart broken recently, but I was able to catch it just in time. The reason being, I gave myself a time limit on when I could emotionally “let go.” I bet that sounds odd, and you’re thinking “how can you place a time on emotions?” Well, it’s simple. I told myself that if I did not receive a promise of an engagement in the future by the three month limit, then clearly this guy was not serious. And it isn’t like I didn’t tell him my plan. He knew. It was our agreement when we first started talking. I made sure to remind him (but not too often), and genuinely enjoyed our time together.

But I was starting to fall for him, and I knew that unless I placed an ultimatum, I would have my heart broken. So I did. And my answer was what I expected, so I am glad that I forced him into an answer. Because I am too good of a person to be dragged around for months while he made his choice. I want to move on, and this way it is so much easier to bounce back because really, the emotions I invested were very minimal. While I enjoyed his company, a serious future would not have materialized, and I need more than that.

So, I guess my lesson here is this: don’t be afraid to experience life and love. But, as females, we have to be smart about it. Especially those of us in our 30’s. We don’t have the same time to bounce back as we did in our 20’s, and so play it smart. Have fun. And, depending on who you are, YOU set the time limit you need to figure out if he is the one. Always remember though to stay true to yourself, because that is who will always be there, even after he is gone.

Flirting with Danger

So, I started my new job this week! I absolutely love everything about it so far. My coworkers are amazing, the office is beautiful, and the work is fulfilling alhamdullilah. I’ve just been training the last two days, and will officially start on Monday. So this week has been pretty laid back.

Before I got to the office on Monday, I knew that I would be working with another guy on my events since it was too much work for one person during our upcoming Ramadan season. I was surprised though to find out that he was around my age. As soon as I walked into the office, there he was, his lean figure folded into one of the swivel chairs. He stood to greet me and I noticed that he was very tall, dressed well, and had an easy-going smile on his face. I was instantly attracted. Not to say that I had fallen head over heels (I’m not that type) but if I had to work with someone, I’m glad it was someone like him.

However, his personality ended up being more attractive than I imagined. We fell into an easy conversation and ended up liking the same things. I finally felt that there was hope in meeting a great guy, in my field of work- someone I can share my passions with and who would understand me too. All morning we shared a friendly back-and-forth banter. After work, we went out to dinner to talk more about the job and to get to know each other better so we could figure out how to split the workload we would be faced with shortly. He was polite, respectful, and ambitious. I found out his family owns a business and he was helping his father run it. He was unhappy in his current job and so he was grateful for this new position. We talked for hours. If I didn’t have my conference call at 9, we probably would have stayed even longer.

Except that at the end of our meal, he mentioned his fiance.

Yup, that’s right. You heard me. His FIANCE.

WHY. Why is it that every time I meet a great guy, someone I have dreamed of meeting, there is always a catch? And then the only guys I do meet who are single are guys I am not interested in? I can’t tell you how disappointing it is to try and keep an open mind in meeting someone when every time I do, they are already taken. Now, I know there are lots of great single guys out there, but it seems like they are not within my reach. 

What’s funny is, this guy actually wants to hook me up with his brother. Whom he says is nothing like him; in fact, he is the opposite. Shy, anti-social, and quiet. Ugh. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I need a counterpart. Someone who won’t think that I am “too much” of anything. 

After he told me he was engaged, I felt like I was in the danger zone. All the joking and ease of conversation now felt strained since I felt I had crossed a line. But it wasn’t my fault- he had withheld that information so I wasn’t the one at fault, right? But how do I continue to work with him, knowing that in my mind I find him to me perfect for me, and after such a great start? Lucky for me he will be working from Michigan and not from the office where I am located and so I won’t have to see him as much. But we will still be communicating every day, multiple times a day, and see each other at events.

The way I see this is that God wanted me to realize that there ARE great guys out there. Maybe this was just a glimpse inside what is to come. Maybe I will meet someone else within my field and this is just a way to get me to open up to the idea. Still, I can’t help feeling disappointed that yet again, the perfect guy was within my reach and- just as quickly- he was snatched away.

Sigh.

Fixer-upper

Last night when I walked into the house after a long, exhausting day of furniture building, work, and a tedious workout, my dad calls me over. Without even a “hello” he pulls out his phone, scrolls through his gallery, and holds up a picture of a guy. He just held it up; no commentary, no explanation. So I was forced to ask “who’s that?” He replied, “someone who wants to meet you!” I looked down at the phone, back up to my dad, and simply said “no” and walked away.

Now, you might be thinking that is rude and disrespectful. On the surface it does seem to teeter on the edge of that assumption. However, if you have read any of my other blogs, you’d know that this isn’t an unusual occurance. My parents are forever trying to set me up. It’s exhausting dodging their advances. But last night really got to me because it made me realize that it will never matter what I accomplish on my own; if there is no man by my side I will never be successful in their eyes. I recently landed a job as the fundraising coordinator for the Syrian American Medical Society. I will be moving to Youngstown in a few short weeks. This is an amazing opportunity for me and I couldnt be more grateful. Yet my dad is trying to set me up with some guy who lives HERE.  

Tell me, what exactly does he think will happen? That the guy will move to Youngstown for me? That he will accept waiting to get engaged until I have settled into my new role, which could be months down the line? That he will support my new career and give me the space I need to settle in? Okay, yes, maybe just MAYBE I will get lucky and he will do all that. But that is a very slim chance. I prefer to go with the majority, which usually is what happens to me. I have yet to be in a relationship where the man fully supports me. And that is fine; I am perfectly content with supporting myself. However, please do not come to me just after reciving the best job offer of my life and throw a man into the mix. It’s just not going to happen.  

After my dad went upstairs to bed, my mom and I sat down to watch our usual late-night Arabic shows. Of course the topic of marriage came up, and she asked me why I didn’t want to meet the guy. I told her about having a new job and that it wasn’t something I could allow at the moment. And then I told her how I didn’t find the guy attractive. That may seem shallow to you, but before you judge me I’d like for you to consider who your spouse or partner is and just TRY to convince me that you don’t find them remotely attractive. Just try. Anyways, I told my mom he seemed very old-school and had no taste in fashion and that I was looking for someone more put together. My mom’s response was that I could always fix him up and make him look how I liked.  

This guy is 28. If he needs MY help this late in the game in order to look decent, then I definitely don’t need him in my life! Look, that explanation may have worked on me when I was 22, but it’s almost 10 years later and I need a guy who already knows how to get it together. I’m in my 30’s;  if I meet a guy now I don’t have the same time I would have had when I was in my 20’s to help mold a guy into the image I want. Is it too much to ask for a well-dressed, put together guy with his shit together? Sorry for the language, since I rarely curse, but it had to be said! I am tired of friends telling me “you can fix him after you’re married.” NO. No I will not, because I dont have the time to “fix” someone else. It’s taken me almost 30 years to become the kind of person I am content with- no way am I starting that with someone else.  

I know people will judge me because I mention looks are important,  but I know it is important to everyone. Otherwise we’d all have ended up with partners we’ve lusted after. That rarely every works out in our favor. And some of you might tell me that if I indeed want someone who looks a specific way that I should just change him into what I want. But you are missing the point. I shouldn’t have to change him. If I did he wouldn’t be himself. I want a guy who is already himself, someone who has worked on achieving his perfect self just as I have. And you can tell me to hold my breath because it’ll never happen, and I’ll tell you that I’m perfectly content living my life until he decides to appear. No way am I going to miss out on an amazing opportunity just because some guy wants to make an appearance in it right now.

The Reality of “Beautiful”

Last week while scrolling through Instagram, a male friend of mine had posted a picture of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit model with the hashtag “WCW” which translates to “woman crush Wednesday.” The picture was all glossy hair, shiny tan skin, and perfectly sculpted body underneath her bathing suit. The overall appearance was striking; she looked amazing. However, upon closer inspection, she (like almost every other cover model) had clearly been airbrushed. I’m not naive; I knew she was initially. I was just shocked at how obvious it was after looking at the picture for more than 10 seconds.

I commented that his so-called “crush” on this woman was based on her falseness. He replied that I was a “hater.” So I had to reply that no, I wasn’t a hater, but that his posting this picture continues to perpetuate the idea that men prefer women who look this way, and it continues to add to the insecurity and unattainable body image that women struggle to achieve everyday. In a private message later on, he admitted to me that he knew she was airbrushed, but that it didn’t stop him from admiring her.

So what does that say, then? That men know the women they see in magazines or in movies are glossed up and photoshopped, yet, they still find them attractive? Where does that leave us regular ladies at?

I personally have never been influenced by magazines to the point of forcing myself to diet, or buying every makeup trick to contour and sculpt my face to perfection. Maybe I’m lucky genetically, so I haven’t had to deal with acne or wrinkles, even at my older age. I’m taller than the average female, so even when I gain weight I can hide it well. And I am blessed with the gift of dressing for my body type, which means I can accentuate certain features while hiding the flaws. But I have never been told I’m unattractive or fat by a guy.

Wait, what?

Am I saying that I am attractive to guys, even without the photoshop? YES! Here is what I don’t understand ladies: why do you put yourself through all these hoops in order to look like the women in magazines, when the men around you actually don’t care? I have asked my guy friends over and over again whether or not they like super skinny girls, and the answer is always no. They like curves; they want softness. They don’t want to feel like when they hug you, you’re going to break. But what really turns guys on is when you are comfortable in that body. When you dress to flatter your figure, and walk around with your head held high.

If you are so easily influenced by magazines, don’t read them. Learn to see yourself for who you are; trust me, you’ll be much happier! And when you are happy, guys see that happiness and they are pulled towards you. What we all need to realize is that we could ALL look like the models in the magazines with photoshop, special lighting, and a makeup and hair team. Strip all that away and the woman on the cover is just like you and me.

Now, with all of that said, does this excuse men for continuing to post photos such as the one my friend did? I don’t think it should be a habit, because we all know how much social media influences people. When women see men posting their ideal woman in this way, it makes them feel inadequate. And while many men think that it’s not their problem and women need to get over it….well, it’s very unfair to say that when you throw it in our face every day. Yet if a woman posted a picture of a shirtless guy with a perfectly sculpted body, she’s deemed unrealistic and superficial. Men and women both need to share in the responsibility of proper representation. We now live in the world of selfies and filters; it is hard to figure out what is underneath all that makeup. I promise you, there is nothing more liberating than being comfortable without makeup, your heels, and all those hair products. Strip it all away, and get comfortable with the person inside.

She’s beautiful.

Making Room for a Man

I was talking to a guy the other day, and he said something to me that has stayed on my mind for the last week or so. I’m getting to know this guy as someone I’d possibly date, and while we were having the normal getting-to-know-you conversation, I mentioned everything I am involved in. I talked about my classes, work, involvement in the community, babysitting my cousin, writing my blog, social gatherings, etc. I talked about my weekly lunches alone to read and have 2 hours to myself at my favorite lunch spots, getting my nails done once a month, taking myself out shopping. I mentioned that after work every night, I come home, have dinner, and read or watch Friends until sleep overtakes me. Then this guy said something that got me thinking; he said that it sounded like I was happy with how my life was going, and that it seemed fulfilled and including a guy into that lifestyle would be inconvenient.

I paused mid-answer. Was he right? I was ready to defend myself and say that I could easily accommodate another person in this life I had cultivated over the past 3 years of being single, but would I have been lying?

It’s true that since my last engagement fell through, I have struggled to find my own happiness- one that doesn’t include a guy. So I have done something most people don’t think of doing while single: I have courted myself. I found out what motivates me, makes me happy, and brings me joy. I have wooed myself with presents, dinners, and travel. I have spent many long hours having conversations with myself about life and love. I have allowed myself to be selfish and focused on my own happiness, rather than finding someone to make me happy. Is that wrong?

In order to love someone, you must first love yourself. For the longest time, I felt that without a man in my life, I was incomplete. Most of what I come across in social media daily tries to coerce me to feel inadequate without a man. Quotes that I read, pictures I see, events that go on…they all make you feel that as a single woman, you are wrong, and you cannot enjoy life without a man. So because I have been unlucky in love, I must be miserable so that society can feel more at ease? No way; not going to happen.

So could I allow a man into my life right now? Or am I so set in my ways that I’d be hard to compromise with? To be honest, I can’t really say. I am so happy with my life right now, that for the first time in my life I enjoy being single. Even the comments from friends and family don’t bother me anymore. I laugh it off. To me, the one thing I am missing (someone to fill my intimate and emotional desires) isn’t as big as all the other great things that fill my life. And honestly, isn’t that what is more important? We always place such an emphasis on finding that special someone that we lose sight of our own needs and happiness.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I am not looking for someone to complete me. I am complete within myself. However, when I do meet the right guy, I will be sure to share myself with him. I still expect to have my own life and interests, as I hope he will too. What I want is a companion, someone to share great moments with, but not someone who will expect me to drop my life for him. To be single for so long makes it much harder to change from that mindset when you do meet that special person. That doesn’t mean I won’t change; I was engaged and made time for fiancee. But when you suddenly find yourself as the lone single friend in your group, and you have no one to go to movies or dinner with, you learn to adapt. So maybe I have gotten used to being alone. Maybe I do relish the quiet hours at a bookstore, browsing titles and sipping coffee. Maybe takeout sushi and bad TV make up the perfect Friday night for me….now. That doesn’t mean that if the guy is wonderful I’d turn him away.

But for now, I will continue to love myself. I will spoil myself. I will do all those things that my friends have a spouse to do for them, for myself. After all, just because I’m single, it doesn’t mean I have to miss out on all that.

I deserve it, too.

Age IS Just a Number

Everyone has heard the saying “age is just a number.” Usually it’s someone younger saying it to justify their actions that are deemed too adult. Or an older women uses it as a defense when dating a younger man. Or, in my case, when a guy who is ten years younger than me tries to pursue me. But this post isn’t about me; not entirely.

One of my guy friends turned 40 this past Saturday. Granted, in most people’s lives, this would be cause for celebration. You have established a career, you have a great circle of friends and family, and you are content. I was browsing Instagram and Facebook and noticed no one had wished him a happy birthday. So I text him wishing him a wonderful birthday and many more healthy years to come. His response was less than enthusiastic. And I knew it would be, because I knew he felt he was missing something he should have had by his 40th birthday: a wife and kids.

Now, my friend is handsome (despite his protests that he isn’t), he’s VERY smart, accomplished, involved in the community, and respected by many. I have know him for ten years and he has always been there for me. Seeing him upset by this upset me as well. Why? Well, because I know where he is coming from. For males, it is more accepted that they get married and start a family later. For females…not so much. But my friend feels that even he has pushed the limit. The thing is, he is SO amazing that it boggles my mind as to why no girl has snatched him up yet. Granted, he is a bit picky, but so is everyone.

After our brief text exchange, I concluded by telling him he has so much to be thankful for. His life is fulfilling and rich with purpose. If nothing else, he should be proud of those accomplishments that most people need a lifetime to achieve.

Later on in the day, I started thinking. It seems that my friend was feeling that he was missing something, but only because of his age. Had the two not been linked, I’m sure he would have been happy to celebrate his birthday. (He actually deactivated his Facebook so no one would know, and ignored all his friends’ phone calls and texts). The fact that he was 40, an age which most guys would have a family established, and was still single himself must have tugged at his heart. If there was anything I could do to convince him of his worth, I would have. What bothered me the most was the fact that he was consumed with the one thing missing in his life to appreciate all that he DID have.

If society doesn’t place an emphasis on age in regards to anything we accomplish, then no one would ever feel inadequate. People expect you to graduate college by 22, get married at 24, and have a child shortly after. When you don’t follow this timeline you are now viewed as a pariah. When I quit school 8 years ago to pursue my work in sales, everyone gave me the “that’s so sad” look when they heard I didn’t graduate college. But what we all need to remember is that life isn’t so perfect all the time. Sometimes the career comes before the degree. Sometimes marriage comes after 30. Sometimes kids come after 40. To me, whatever makes YOU happy should determine when you do things.

Right now I’m 31, bordering on 32. When I turned 30, I was single. I was working my hourly sales job after stepping down as a manager. As much as I wanted to sulk, I didn’t. Because at 30, I had been afforded opportunities most hadn’t experienced yet. I was loved. I had a wonderful family and group of friends supporting me. So what if I was 30 and didn’t have a husband or kids?

Am I the only one who sees no importance in being married? To be so accomplished across the board and then be missing just that last puzzle piece should not make you feel incomplete. Focus on what you DO have going for you. Don’t dwell on the one thing that is taking a little longer to make its way to you. If you do, you’re going to miss out on all the great things life has handed you. Enjoy your life now.