I do not feel like this is a known assessment that runs through the minds of women and young girls in this world. You can blame story books or Disney movies if you want, having the damsel in distress and the brave and handsome man swooping in to save her from her timely demise, or you can just blame your heart. I ate that kind of shit up as a child, always having the princess themed birthday parties and bedtime stories. Even when I got older I read books that filled my mind with wonder and amazement, not of the world, but of the man I would one day marry. Without realizing it, I was programmed this way and grew up to be a hopeless romantic.
When I got into my first relationship at the age of 16, I was smitten and in love with love. I am pretty sure that I had already made an image of this man in my mind and I would one day mold him to fit every checkbox until he was the man I read about in books. That ended up about how you think it would. He cheated, he left, he broke my heart. It came to me then, a small realization that was only temporary, but there. I did not need a man to make myself happy. I stood back up and started walking on my own again, cutting new paths in new directions that he never once cut for me.
It wasn’t too long after that that my new found freedom was becoming entangled in a man’s blue eyes and crooked smile. He scooped me up and I quickly left my own life to be a part of his. He molded me just like how I tried to mold my first “love”. He showered me with kisses and affection, kind promises that he would eventually not keep, and I fell in love with love once more.
I was once again dropped back into the real world, but this time quicker, faster, more catastrophic. How was I supposed to know who I was anymore? When your life was given to someone else’s for such a long period you no longer recognize yourself in the mirror and the vastness of the world seems too large.
I took a leave of absence from love, from the idea of love. I focused on myself, my career, my own path. I cut it larger, wider, and longer, wielding my own dreams into a reality. When a woman or a man lets go of the things that don’t really matter, it is then that they find themselves. I traveled, I worked, I studied, I found me.
Recently I met a man, not a boy, who I thought would be the kind of man I was supposed to want. He was well qualified to be a husband, just like the ones in the movies. He owned his own house, he had a Ph.D., he had a dog, and he cooked pretty well too. He met the checklist in every shape, form, and size. If my mother were to meet him she would tie me to his ankles so he wouldn’t be able to run away. Luckily, the guy never made it that far.
But the point is, I saw my future in him, not with him. I saw his great career as a success of my own, and that was not right. I have been in the process of building my own dreams and career, and I temporarily forgot about that. I was impressed with the guy on my arm, boasting in his talents and attributes that I forgot about myself. I forgot about my talents and gifts, my natural born leading ways and how I had spent the last two years training my own well being so I would not have to stand under any man’s shadow.
Why am I so quick to dismiss myself when it comes to a man?
Maybe it is because I was programmed that way since I was a child. Maybe it is because I am a natural born romantic. Maybe it is because I don’t believe in myself, or maybe it’s because I have daddy issues.
It doesn’t really matter why. It just matters that I recognize that it is there.
I am not another man’s career. I am not his degree. I am not his travels, and I am not his.
I am me. I am my dreams. I am my career. I am the love that I feel for myself.
No man will ever make me complete. I do not have missing pieces within me. I am a whole being that is capable of shifting the world at my own whim. I do not answer for a man that one day might leave me. Because he might. He may be perfect and dreamy and successful, but he is human, and like all humans, we fuck up.
In the grand scheme of things, being in a relationship is not a victory. It is not a competition and it should not be your biggest goal in life.
Growing up in the south, women get married young, boasting in their wedding dates and tiny engagement rings. They make other women feel inferior to their weakness to expand their lives. Because finding your “other half” should not make you a greater person. Graduating college, getting your masters, landing that perfect job, traveling the world, understanding yourself and broadening your mind is what makes you a better person. Not a man.
So I don’t know where I am going. I don’t know what my future has in store for me. I know that I will one day meet a man and he will sweep me off of my feet, but when that day comes I know I will be ready. Because I will appreciate his blue eyes and messy hair and his success for what it is: his. And I will bask in it with pride and know that while he may be tall and mighty in his own ways, I will stand there right beside him, casting our own league of shadows down our own paths called life.