Wednesday, July 2, 2008

From a married lady to young, single sisters

It's funny the perspective that time gives.
Occasionally I see a young sister made crazy by society's romantic expectations and I want to reach down from my lofty perch of 30+ years of life experience, grab her and say, "It will all work out...truly it will." I think of my early 20-something self, so worried about being paired up with someone. I admit that in some romantic entanglements back then, I forgave when I shouldn't have, overlooked what should have been obvious, gave up things that ought to have been sacred and a few times tried to make Mr. Right out of Mr. Wrong for Me.
I graduated from college and started my "real life" with big plans. I never wanted to marry young, nor did I want to have children. I wanted to join the Peace Corps., work at a newspaper, live in a big city, have a fancy job in gleaming high-rise, live on the East Coast, live in Europe, see the United States, see the world...I did several of those things, but part of young me was a little scared that after all the fun, I wouldn't find someone to settle down with. Now, before I lose my womanist bonafides, let me make it plain: I never believed that a woman needs a significant other to live a full life, I simply wanted a partner to come with me on life's journey. And most women reading this know that the pressure for a heterosexual woman to marry grows stronger as she approaches the 30-year mark. Friends start coupling and choosing china patterns. Questions are asked...Are you dating anybody?...Don't you want to get married?...You'd better hurry up...Don't you want to have kids? Then folks get to throwing around dire statistics about black women and marriage. It can make a girl feel a little crazy...a little desperate. It can make a girl do stupid things.

Over time, one becomes more mature in her singleness--at least I think I did. At around 29, I realized that, while I hoped to find the right man with which to share my life, I would have a damned good life no matter what. And frankly, there were too many rewarding things I could do alone or with friends for me waste even an hour of time on a dinner date with an aggravating knuckehead. I became pickier (Lately, I've heard a lot of folks trying to tell black women they don't have a right to high standards. Every self-respecting person ought to have high standards about whom they are intimate with. Don't let anyone tell you different.). I spent more time alone. I discovered who I am. I explored and experimented with life.
So, this weekend, I watched this young sister I know flail around in a relationship, trying unsuccessfully to live her life around a prospective husband's, trying to force something that doesn't fit. She is an acquaintance. I don't know her well enough to be all up in her business. And I'm not one to go around making pronouncements and dispensing advice (Unless you read my blog...hee.) But I just wanted to tell her to relax. I wanted to quote my favorite part of that song from Baz Luhrman's Romeo and Juliet, "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)" (Ya'll know I have quirky musical tastes.):
Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't
Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't
Maybe you'll divorce at 40
Maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary
Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either
Your choices are half chance, so are everybody elses.
By chance, I did get married at 31. I have a wonderful husband who suits me in all my eccentricity. I love him very much--with all my heart. We will celebrate our seventh anniversary next week. I enjoy being married. I grew up with married parents and married grandparents. I support marriage for everyone that wants it (Cause not everyone does or should want it.). And I regret that it sometimes seems that the black community has dispensed with the idea of healthy marriage. But...if I had never met my sweetie, I think I would have been okay...better than okay...great. I would have tried to be great anyway (It's easy to say you would have been okay not getting the thing you wanted after you already have the thing.). I'm sure I would have been lonely sometimes...stressed sometimes...worn down strapped sometimes...depressed sometimes, but marriage does not protect you from any of that. Marriage does not make a life and it doesn't make a woman.
I see too many young, black girls defining themselves through the gaze of young men. As they get older, little changes. In my circle, it is the diamond ring women are supposed to covet. In some other circles, it is some man's (or boy's) baby. But I think that's crap (Intellectually...emotionally, it is hard to unhook from these things). Men are judged as people separate from their romantic and familial entanglements. Women should be, too.
So, I have this to say to my single sisters (young and old): Be picky, but be fair; be adventurous; be YOU. Screw the folks who want to make you feel bad about not being hooked up. And if you're feeling down about your single status, hold on.
It's funny the perspective that time gives.


Tiffany In Houston said...

Thanks. I needed to read this today. I just turned 35 and want to be married. Hasn't happened yet. May not. But I will be OK, either way it goes.

tasha212 said...

Thanks for this post, Tami. I really needed to hear that!

Symphony said...

Great post Tami

Brother OMi said...


"Be picky, but be fair; be adventurous; be YOU. Screw the folks who want to make you feel bad about not being hooked up. And if you're feeling down about your single status, hold on."

so so true

thank you for this. saving it for 20 years from now for my daughter.

but i will have to post this on my myspace blog and link it to you (just posting the first two paragraphs)..


Somebodies Friend said...

I am over all the problems that were iterfering with my past relationships...

I am being ME.... Loud and clear...

I am also getting lonely and depressed, I don't have any friends left and I am starting to wonder what the hell the holdup is...

I'm being hung out to dry for so long the color is starting to fade.

If these are the games my "friends" are playing with me, I may as well go back to the old back stabbing crowd, at least I know what is coming.

Just venting, I think you probably get the drift... Hurry the "HELL" up already.(Just kidding, about the "Hell" part. Hurry up for heaven's sake)

Anonymous said...

Posted as anonymous 2x this week...
This is exactly the message in SHarvey's book...don't sell yourself short to catch a man. Keep your standards high, live your own life, don't chase romance, and most importantly if you're looking for commitment, don't become physically intimate before you forge an emotional commitment with someone. By Think like a man, he is urging women to recognize that men and women are not always looking for the same things when it comes to relationships. Based on this post, i'd say you agree with him way more than you disagree. Please read the book, and then let us know what you think.


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