My Dear Beautiful, Single Sista, I wanted to write you this letter today because you’ve been on my mind lately. I’ve been thinking about you because I, too, am single. So I know what its like to walk a step, a mile, and beyond in your shoes. There are so many messages of discouragement out there for us but today I wanted to send you a message of encouragement.
I’m not going to repeat any of the clichés that people generally deliver to you – you’ve heard them all. And if we’re around the same age then I know, by this point in your life, that you’re tired of hearing them all. I also know you’ve had enough of the well-meaning but misplaced intentions of coworkers, friends and family who don’t understand how you feel. They’ve been paired up for years and don’t know what its like to date in the information age. They can’t relate to the disappointment and frustration of online dating, of being courted via email and text message, or of attending parties and events in order to ‘put yourself out there’. I know that that gets old, and sometimes you feel like there’s no longer a point.
I know what it feels like to be lonely. Girlfriend I know that sometimes you just want to stay at home, watch TV on the weekends, and not have to worry about constantly putting your best face forward to the world. And part of this letter is to let you know that someone feels your pain. Because when you look around, sometimes you don’t see that. When the sweet old lady at church tells you to keep praying, to hold on and wait for the Lord, yet her man is there, I know what that feels like. When your girlfriend who always has a man – you know the one – tells you to stop sweating it and do you, girl I know what that feels like. And when you think about your dreams of companionship and children, yet don’t see how in the world its going to become reality, you should know that I feel that too.
This letter isn’t about faith. I’m not going to suggest you pray, work out, go out, asked to be set up, or post any online profiles. This letter is strictly about you.
Now remember I said I totally know where you’re coming from, sista. So from this mutual place of singlehood, my encouragement for you today is for you to live the best life you can. Use this time to really love YOU. Not to prepare for a man, not to lose weight for a man, not to get your credit straight for a man – but do whatever you do simply for you. I think the problem that we face is that we look outside ourselves too much. Instead of focusing on how we feel, on the now that is in front of us, we dwell on past relationship mistakes and hopes for the future. Sometimes we think about the present – but only to notice that the person we are hoping for has not yet arrived. And repeatedly doing that to ourselves is making us miserable.
So sista, I advocate for you to stay home and not force yourself to go out, if you’re not feeling it that night. But really treat yourself to a night in. Paint your toes, take a bubble bath with your favorite product, watch your favorite movie (my fave is the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice ) or a movie you’ve been dying to see (and maybe don’t want to admit to anyone else that you saw…lol). Really enjoy you. Be the best lover you can to yourself. Ok ok ok… I said I’d stay away from the clichés, but that one is really helpful for us, if we truly understand what it means. If we get so wrapped up in being good to ourselves, that’s less time to dwell on being lonely.
And when you do go out, don’t focus so much on going places to meet men. Lets start going to those places we’ve been dying to go to, like a new club or restaurant that we’ve been eyeing. Lets not wait until someone takes us, lets start taking ourselves. And everything doesn’t have to be a girlfriend outing either. Sometimes two single gals together will drive each other up the wall. Like I said, do what you want for that evening. Don’t always feel like you have to have a friend or a crew with you. Take yourself to dinner, a movie, a play, or even a club (with safety in mind). Because whether you meet the guy of your dreams or not, it’ll be a shame to look back on this time when you’re older and wish you wouldn’t have wasted it. All we really have is now, so lets start living in it. I hope this helps sista. Take care and treat yourself better than anyone else can.
Go ‘head sista, lower those standards
I was at work the other day, minding my own business, when I inadvertently overheard a conversation between two of my coworkers. The (married) speaker was relating some advice she gave to her (single) sister, who is a lawyer. She said that her sister needs to lower her standards; every man she dates doesn’t have to be a lawyer. What about a garbage man? A mechanic? These are good men too, the speaker rationalized. Her sister was being too picky and that was why she was still single. I sat there, heated, trying to ignore their conversation and yet irrationally taking their words personally. How many single black women have been told to lower our standards in order to be in a relationship? How many of us have been blamed for our single status, as if it’s a situation that has an assignable fault? Why doesn’t anyone factor in men’s attitudes toward relationships? And why do we, as women, continue to internalize this criticism and blame ourselves for not having mates?
Speaking for myself, I get tired of this ‘give a brotha a chance’ rhetoric. Regardless of a black woman’s socioeconomic status, we are encouraged to ‘date down’. Now I am not judging a man’s worth as a person based on what job he holds. I’m sure there are good, traditional men of value who work at blue-collar jobs. But at the same time, no one ever tells a black male doctor that he should ‘give a sista a chance’. He’s encouraged to date other doctors – not cashiers, medical assistants or bus drivers. He’s encouraged to create a Huxtable family by marrying an attorney, or excused for marrying a non-black woman by references to negative stereotypes about black women.
Its as if us single gals are pushed toward single men, no matter what our preferences are or, in some instances, the condition of the men. We’re just supposed to lower our standards, run to the man with open arms, and embrace him. No matter what wrongs the brotha has formerly committed? No matter what state he’s currently in, no matter his goals and ambitions in life, or his willingness to actually commit to a long-term or permanent relationship? If the black woman would only help prop a tired, trifling brotha up… if only she would look at his potential and give him time to develop into the responsible, committed, enterprising man he is *supposed* to be… if only she would recognize the heavy burden of racism that has weighed down his actions in life (even though black women carry that same crushing weight, along with the equally heavy burden of sexism, that black men often inflict on us as well)… and, often, if only she wouldn’t be uppity and instead choose a black man outside of her socioeconomic status, just because he’s black… black women wouldn’t be lonely/single mothers/unmarried/fill-in-the-negative-blank…
It may sound like I exaggerated my way through that last paragraph, but I promise you that I didn’t. I know women personally who are not only encouraged to date men who are not on their social, religious, economic or ambition levels, but have seen attempts to set friends up with these men, and seen friends encouraged to stay in relationships where they have outdistanced their men. “Ain’t nothing wrong with that man,” they’re told. “He’s a good man! Stick with him, give him a chance!” Or how about, “all you really need is….[fill-in-the-blank]. You can’t have everything you want. That doesn’t happen to black women, but to other women.”
Oh, that’s right, we’re not supposed to blame anyone but the black woman.
Once they’re nice and low, stop ‘overlooking’ Mr. Nice Guy
Another surprising contender in this blame-the-black-woman game has emerged (surprising to me, at least): Mr. Nice Guy. If only single black women would stop choosing Thugs and Bad Boys over the Nice Guys, they say, then there wouldn’t be as many single sistas. If only black women would stop overlooking these Good Black Men, the state of our community would be so much better, they say. Maybe its just me, but I feel that Mr. Nice Guy Black Man is a myth, a figment of the black community’s imagination. If I’m wrong, then where is he?
Because for every Good Black Man, there is a Good Black Woman who does not date Thugs or Bad Boys. For every Good Black Man who is crying into his Xbox or Playstation controller at night, there is a Good Black Woman (or 2…or 3) who’s tired of being alone. There are two things I see with men who claim to be Mr. Nice Guy: they extend absolutely no effort in pursuing women and they are not really that nice. I’ll address the first point here, and the second in Part Two of this post.
There was an article in Essence magazine last year (one of the issues with Beyonce on the cover) that caught my eye. I can’t remember the title of the article, but it was written by a black man who claimed to be a Southern gentleman. In the article (I didn’t read the whole thing… Essence is on some bull and hasn’t received my money in years), the author shared his woes as a Good Black Man who gets overlooked. Maybe I’m being insensitive.. maybe I’m making generalizations.. but if that isn’t a load of crap, I don’t know what is. GTFOOHWTBS..
I’m sorry sistas, but some of us have low standards. Like I stated above, sometimes we’re blamed for our own singleness and told to lower our standards to the point where we actually do it. I don’t care how gorgeous, accomplished, talented, or financially well-off a sista is, you will see a black woman with a man you perceive to be below her level and think “how’d he get with her?” In our fear of being alone (which is constantly nurtured by the black community’s urgings to ‘give a brotha a chance’ and only date black men) we accept men who are not only incompatible, but who don’t really have a black woman’s best interest at heart. The only ones who really care about a black woman’s chances at finding a healthy relationship are, for the most part, black women. But we put our desires, and ultimately, our hopes for successful relationships, on the back burner in order to Have A Man instead of having the man that’s right for us.
So when I see men like the author of the Essence article bitch and moan about being overlooked, I don’t feel sorry for them. I joke that all a black man has to do is go outside… he doesn’t even have to iron his clothes – he’ll find a black woman who’ll iron them for him and make him a sandwich while she’s at it. To me, the real issue is not that these men get overlooked – but that they get overlooked by women they consider to be ‘dimes’ or the creme of the supposed crop. The women who are the female equivalent to the Thugs and Bad Boys they blame for their loneliness. To these men, they overlook the Good Black Woman and only have eyes for the Hot Black Woman.. and then blame the GBW and average sistas when they didn’t have time for us in the first place. For example, a few years back, Essence ran that same type of article written by a financially successful black man. In the article he noted his accomplishments in his career, some of his material possessions and the fact that he’s a ‘mover and shaker’. Then, on the same page, he wrote about his frustration with meeting women who were only after his money. But those were the types of women he repeatedly chose, and then had the gall to blame us for his singlehood. That doesn’t make sense to me – if you constantly pursue women who are into material things, you can’t get mad at those women because they want your material things. That just doesn’t add up.
On the flip side, I know several men who claim to be Good Black Men, who put absolutely no effort into meeting women, then express bitterness toward black women for not choosing them. Call me old-fashioned, but when did this expectation of pursuit fall to black women?? What kills me about it is, black women who pursue men are accused of being emasculating.. again, we can’t win for losing and this is another situation that turns out to be our fault. I know at least 3 men who never go out, who put no effort into how they dress or into grooming themselves to be noticed by women. When I point out that they are black, live in DC, have advanced degrees, above-average salaries and are attractive, highlighting their chances of dating success if they would just go outside (see joke above..lol), they pout that that’s too much work. They refuse to enter the dating game and play by its rules. They also have stringent criteria and only want to meet certain kinds of women, no matter how much effort they extend to do so. When this happens, then another Good Black Man has been overlooked. When it happens to a black woman, then sistas need to stop being so picky and get out there and meet men. Sorry, but I don’t buy it.
How Mr. Nice Guy Won’t End Up Last
What women admire in Thugs and Bad Boys is their ability to be bold, to make the first (and subsequent) moves, to literally charm the pants off them and provide a feeling of security. Sorry fellas, but women don’t admire timid men. If you don’t pursue women, if you wait for women to notice you, of course you’ll get overlooked because there are other men (regardless of good intentions and criminal backgrounds) who have the balls to go after what they want. If a man packages himself for meeting women and proceeds to show women attention, he will get that attention returned. If not by a certain type of woman, then by other types. Face it fellas, water rises to its own level, and dating is like that too. Blaming women who don’t return that attention is a waste of time and contributes to the situation I describe: men who are bitter toward women who are out of their league, and subsequently remove themselves from the dating game altogether. That is not to say that women don’t play a significant role in the dating game, but most of us accept that role and know how to play it.
Every black man who I’d label as a Good Black Man is off somewhere, actually being good to a woman. They’re married or in committed, long-term relationships, being honest and loving to their women and present in the lives of their children. That is how I measure the level of goodness in a black man, not by his level of fiscal responsibility or his lack of a criminal record. Now if my definition of goodness corresponds with the man you are, then holla at ya girl 😉 I have a few good, single black women for you to meet.
10 Reasons I love being a black woman
- When I walk into a room of black women, I see so many versions of beauty – different skin tones, body shapes, unique styles and I know that we are each a creature like no other.
- I know that no sistah I meet has has the same history, viewpoint or religious belief as I do. There’s always an opportunity for discourse, debate, and learning.
- Every time I meet a black woman I hear a stereotype being shattered.
- Black women have an outrageous sense of humor. Especially black women over the age of 40.
- Most black women have a strong sense of faith, even though we don’t all worship the same God in the same way.
- Almost every black woman I meet is a go getter, striving for the improvement of her mind, body, spirit and/or circumstance.
- Elder black ladies inspire me to greatness with their encouragement.
- Young black women make me proud with their intelligence, curiousity and talent.
- There a few things sweeter than a black woman’s smile.
- There are few things more resilient than a black woman’s spirit.
Self-esteem is such a many-layered thing. Like an onion, peeling back those layers can be bitter, can make you cry, can bring out unaddressed pain. But in the end, if we want to be happy, healthy, successful people, we have to peel back those layers that protect our self-esteem and see it for what it truly is.
So what is self-esteem, really? At its most basic, self-esteem is the regard we hold for ourselves. Its how we view ourselves based on feedback we’ve received from our experiences and from other people. Its easy to say “I have high self-esteem” without actually knowing what your self-esteem really is. Or, more frequently, we may have a high self-esteem in one area, such as intelligence, appearance, or sexual prowess (hey, I’m being honest…) but not in others. So how do you peel back those layers, and examine what your real self-esteem is?
For me, I had to start at the center. I had to define what it meant to be me. Not what my mama thinks, my friends or colleagues think, and not what my performance review at work reflects. What really makes me who I am, a unique being from the next sista walking down the street? When I could quiet the voice of the irrational critic (we all have that voice.. it may sound like your parents, a teacher, a significant other or someone you’ve never met.. but its there. Its that voice that constantly tells you that you’re not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough….) and really look at myself objectively, then I could begin to understand how I regarded myself. And at first it wasn’t easy. During the process of getting to know me, I realized that I was a different person than the one I assumed I was. My likes and dislikes had changed.. my goals, talents, strengths and weaknesses were different than they were just a few years ago. And, most importantly, I realized that some of the things that I held as important simply weren’t that important anymore. But at the same time, it was exciting to learn all of these things. Like getting to know a new friend, knowing that this friend will be the closest one you’ll ever have.
The maxim to “be true to yourself” is what this is all about. Think of your center, the core of your being, as your definition. Once that definition is set (and you can edit, amend and rewrite that definition as you see fit) then feel no guilt for removing the things, people and places from your life that contradict that definition. Defining who you are definitely takes work. But I believe its the first step in building a strong and unshakable self-esteem. Once you know who you are, then you can work on being the person you really want to be, if you’re not already there. And, hopefully, you’ll see that you’re closer to being the woman you want to be than you’ve previously given yourself credit for.
Once you have a stable, grounded center, then you can move outward. The reason I advocate this method of building your self-esteem is that the attacks of others and of society won’t matter as much. Your foundation will be built on solid ground instead of sinking sand, and will be able to withstand the subtle and not-so-subtle attacks of others. If you know who you are, what you want and what makes you happy, then it won’t really matter if your coworkers don’t like your natural hair; if your mom keeps complaining that you’re not giving her any grandkids; or that your friends think you’re weird for having a Harry Potter obsession (ok ok… I’m speaking for myself with this last example).
Overall, in order to withstand attacks from without – attacks on our race, our gender, our bodies, our religious views, heck, even our hair – you have to acknowledge your core and strengthen who you are from within. It all starts at the center.
Hi ladies and gents, my internet name is Prosechild. Thanks for reading my blog. I started this blog as an evolution from my previous blog, Black Women and Girls. That blog was a marketing arm of my t-shirt business, Black Girl Tees. So you see, I’m all about progression
I love to discuss issues that affect the self-esteem and standard of beauty of black women and girls. I’m also interested in issues that affect the practices, habits and outlook on internet entrepreneurs. My site has been online for about a year and I’m proud of the progress I’ve made so far. I’ve found, though, that mindset and outlook have 85% to do with the successes I’ve made so far. I’ve also found that I love to motivate and encourage others along whatever paths they’re traveling to their own successes. Thus, I think of myself as the Motivated Sista.
So let’s stay motivated, encouraged and enthusiastic for the positive aspects occurring in our lives. There are definitely ways to find your joy every day, and I’ll discuss those ways here as well. I hope you find my site a breath of fresh air and a place to come and visit often.