You’ve probably read a million of these things right? You probably read stuff like “10 Things To Do While You’re Single” or “Why More People Are Choosing Not to Get Married” or “Waiting on Your Boaz.” Only very churchy people read the one about Boaz.
I’ve read a few too. Almost didn’t write this because I didn’t want to put another piece like this out in the world where there are already so many like it. I decided to forge ahead anyway because, y’all, I am learning too much about myself not to share. Also, I can’t stop thinking about it so I’m writing about it and . . . Whatever. Deal.
I turned thirty this year. I’m educated. I’m gainfully employed. I’m involved in several civic organizations. I love Jesus. I have wonderful friends and a loving, supportive family. I have a very full, mostly fulfilling life. I can’t even express how many things there are in my life for which I am grateful. Every time I’m tempted to complain about something I don’t have, I try to mind trick myself to focus on the things I do have. (Mind tricks are how I survive most of my days, btw. Like, when someone at Kroger is rude to me, I mind trick myself into pretending that he/she didn’t even do the thing that made me want to practice my “karate chop to the throat” skills. When the person at Panera Bread forgets to give me the cookie I ordered and I leave without noticing, I try to mind trick myself into thinking it’s better for my health rather than doing the natural inner fat girl thing and demanding that the cookie be delivered to my home immediately. Y’all should try it. Makes the stress level go down for sure.)
I do not have a boyfriend or a boo. I’m not dating anyone to my knowledge (bc sometimes folks be dating you but you don’t be dating them back). I’ve always taken for granted that I would have a pretty traditional life by way of going to school, getting a degree or two, meeting a nice guy, marrying him, having his babies, struggling between working and being a mommy, quitting my nine to five and doing some hodgepodge between community development and writing, and then sending my children off to college so they could start that process all over with their lives.
When I tell you it hasn’t happened that way, I mean almost none of it happened that way. First off, I went and got some degrees that I question all the time. Like, why? I don’t even completely know what I want to do with my life (or better, how to do it while also paying bills). I’ll save that one for another post though. Second off, the kid ain’t had not a one husband and not a one almost maybe. I mean I’ve loved some of the guys I’ve dated and even thought I’d marry at least 2 of them but . . . nah.
So now I’m single. AF. As cool as I am with that and as much as I am all I-am-woman-hear-me-roar, I am also over here flailing! Flailing! Google “flail” and tell me what you get. Not the definition about flogging but the other one that says “wave or swing wildly.” That’s me. Outchea waving and swinging. Outchea wild.
Let me just say that I’m relatively happy. I am. I definitely have seasons of unhappiness (might be in one right now but that’s another post), but I am usually a content person. Thanks to my witty, insightful, very churchy mother I have never entertained the idea of being a half person who needs another person to make me whole. I’ve always known I need my own life, need an independent source of inspiration, and need to be the kind of person I expect to attract. So, no, I don’t need a guy. There are, however, a few realities I’ve come to face about myself in my singleness that should’ve been obvious from the start – that I’m human. I’m no superwoman. I’m no better or capable than most other people (except a few idiots I know). I crave attention and affection. I want a partner. Like my bestie put it in one of her many random texts to me in the middle of a Thursday afternoon when I actually wasn’t even thinking about future bae for once, “I need someone who is responsible for me.” She is absolutely right. I want someone who asks me if I’m sick when I sneeze. It would even be cool for someone to just be there when I sneeze. Right now, I just ask myself if I’m sick. I sneeze and then I be like “Mariah, you ok?” When I’m having an emotional day (why are there so many of these?), I be like “Girl, you good?” When I’m walking to my car from the mall and I trip over the heels of some couple holding hands and not noticing me because they’re too into each other, I just be like “Whoa boo, you alright?” Every single time, I have to answer myself like “Yeah, I’m cool I guess. Thanks for asking.” I thank myself for asking. My own self, y’all.
That’s one of the things. It’s this overwhelming feeling of complete and forced independence, and it is exhausting. I have to take care of myself. I have to be responsible for myself. When I have to buy a car, I do it myself. When I have to pick a retirement plan, I do it myself. When I have to find a new dentist, I do it myself. And, baby, when I tell you I’m a little tired, I mean I could go to sleep right now. I could wake up from 10 hours of sleep and look forward to the next time I could go to sleep. I could take a nap after being so tired from taking a nap. I could wake up, eat breakfast, go to sleep, and then be ready for bed that night. That’s how tired I am. I have friends and family, yes. I love them. They love me. That is not a question. But they neither care to be there every time I sneeze nor care to ask me if I’m sick. The feeling is mutual. I’m not trying to be up underneath my girlfriends or my brothers or my parents or anyone else like that. I would like a “just for me person.” I do not have one. That is my reality. And listen. I know there are far worse realities. I could be trapped in a dungeon somewhere in Aleppo right now. I could be fighting hunger, homelessness, or disease. I could be meeting one of my ex’s baby mamma’s in the parking lot of Wendy’s to talk about how disrespectful she is to me (can we stop right here and give God a mighty hallelujah…!!!!!). All I’m saying is that, while being single at 30 is not high on the list of human suffering, it is also a thing with which I do grapple, and I’m tired of trying to be unfazed by it. I am fazed.
I’m fazed by what loneliness does to me. It is the impetus for many of my bad decisions. I try to make things work that shouldn’t have even started. It makes me less confident in myself in every way. It weakens me and makes me thirsty for attention. It makes me crazy. Frfr. And this is somewhat hard to admit because I’m black girl magic. I’m fire, melanin, and special all wrapped up in a big ball of “you don’t scare me” and perseverance. More importantly though, I’m someone who professes the unquestionable, unmatchable, almighty power of Christ. You ain’t gotta tell me to lean on Him. Girl, I already know. I already know!!!!! But knowing and doing are two different things. It takes strength to lean on God, y’all. It takes a whole lot of mind tricks. It takes constant, consistent, almost incessant messages to do the right thing. Not the easy thing. Not the thing that even feels natural. But the thing that will please God and either prepare me for a husband or prepare me for more of the same – either way, I feel like I’m probably not ready yet.
M’kay, that’s all. I just wanted y’all to know that I’m over here mind tricking myself, oscillating between weakness and strength, flailing and then soaring and then flailing again. I think it’s normal. Idk. Maybe not. I just know it’s happening. Ok bye.