I am single, and that’s OK.

I am single, and that’s OK.

This is a new sentence that I’m writing to myself, something I try to remember when I feel lonely. It’s new to me because no one has ever told me this before. Since I was born, everyone and everything around me told me that I would really start living when I found “my special someone”, “my soulmate”. Only when I was in love and married would I truly be fulfilled in life. “There’s no good that can come out of singleness. A woman can’t find self-worth unless it comes from the admiration of a man.” These are the messages that I have heard all my life, and they have damaged me.

For a while, I believed them. I waited for guys to start taking notice of me. I waited for my first date, my first kiss, and my first boyfriend in high school. When that didn’t happen, they told me it would definitely for sure happen in college. Well, here I am four years later, still never been kissed, still single, and yeah I’ll say it, somewhat bitter.

single-women-in-the-winter-months

But I’m tired of waiting to be happy and fulfilled through a romantic relationship. I’m tired of feeling like I’m missing out on something. I could either use my single years to grow personally and enjoy my independence, or be miserable and bitter. That doesn’t mean I don’t still get lonely sometimes, it just means I don’t waste time regretting something I don’t have. I wish I could really be as strong as my words make me seem. I wish I didn’t feel pain when I see my sister and her finance kiss for the thousandth time from the corner of my eye. I wish I didn’t wonder if I just met my future husband every time I meet an eligible or attractive guy my age. I wish I could focus on my relationship with Christ, one that really would fulfill me, rather than my absence of a romantic relationship. But this is a learning process, and my feelings are still catching up with my new ideas about singleness.

My mother frequently tells me that she can’t die in peace until she sees me “married and happy”. That’s usually followed by a variation of, “If you lose weight, men will pursue you.” Is it any wonder that I have struggled with low self-esteem and poor body image all my life? It took a long time for me to re-educate myself so I wouldn’t believe in her harmful message; that my body was to blame for my singleness. I don’t resent my mother for saying these things; she truly does believe it and only wants to see me happy. I do wish that she had taught me to love myself and value my body at a younger age. Nowadays, I correct these statements as best I can by telling her that I am happy even though I’m not married, and that I don’t want a husband who desires only my body, but all of me, and I’m willing to wait for that.

Why did I spend the first two decades of my life obsessed with love?

Our culture is obsessed with love, both physical and emotional. We’ve been fed romance and love songs since we were in diapers (Disney, anyone?). We saw sex at an early age, most likely introduced in a negative way, and continued seeing it everywhere; movies, music, ads, clothes, books, news. We saw it so much that we’ve become desensitized to it. It no longer surprises us to see a woman exploiting her body to advertise a product or company; in fact, it makes perfect sense to us. Hardee’s commercials are a great and disgusting example of this. What does fast-food have to do with a beautiful/sexy woman? Absolutely nothing; but by creating a connection between a desirable woman and the desirableness of food, Hardee’s sells more burgers. It’s simple, sex sells.

Hardee’s ads are so good at what they do that they work on a deeper level. That’s what scares me, it’s subliminal. Our waking minds may not notice overt sexuality plastered over the walls of our media, we’ve learned to “ignore” it. But our inner minds and bodies absorb those messages and internalize them.

America’s Real Favorite Pastime

Traditionally, baseball is considered America’s favorite pastime, but I think most people would consider football an even greater American sport. The National Football League certainly makes more than Major League Baseball every year, bringing in about $9 billion dollars annually (Source). Would it surprise you to learn that the pornography industry is a more than $13 billion dollar industry (Source)? If where we spend our money is any indication of how we spend our time, well, you see what I’m getting at here. The pursuit of sexual experiences consumes us; it’s our favorite pastime.

What does this mean? It means that our society and the messages it is sending us about physical and emotional love are finding a home in our minds and bodies (and our browser histories). We’re taught at a young age to lust after things, celebrities, food, and wealth. We’re told we need these things to be happy and fulfilled. We’re told that our self-worth is tied to attaining these things; that we’re lesser-than if we cannot achieve these things. We’re hyper- sexualizing ourselves and then wonder why there’s a growing rape culture and a strong sexual trafficking infrastructure in our neighborhoods.

I’m not saying the sexual act or expressing one’s sexuality is bad, in fact, I believe quite the opposite. What I’m saying is that we need to evaluate how these messages are affecting us on a deeper level. Maybe sex/porn addiction is not just an individual’s lack of willpower or lack of a better hobby; maybe it’s a manifestation of those lustful messages we’re constantly bombarded with from birth. Maybe it’s a symptom of a larger societal problem. I am not suggesting that those with an unhealthy relationship with sex blame society for their problems. Rather, I am suggesting a deeper look at the root of those problems to better understand them with the goal of overcoming them. We all have natural tendencies, but our society is nurturing us to act in a certain way, and just because you may not watch pornography doesn’t mean you’re immune.

You may wonder why I am addressing my acceptance of singleness as a healthy state and larger societal messages about sex and love in one blog post. I believe these two topics are interconnected in complex ways. My previous ideas about singleness as “bad” or abnormal have their origin in the idea that women and their bodies are for men (a patriarchal idea), so by not being in a relationship, I was not living life to its fullest potential. I wasn’t “fulfilled” because I wasn’t doing what society was telling me to do in the majority of its advertisements and media, fall in love have sex with men. I also wasn’t “happy” because a man had never shown me attention or told me that I was beautiful, talented, sexy, or intelligent (all of which I am, by the way). The same societal ideas of love and sex that contributed to my frustration about being single are the same ideas that encourage self-destructive tendencies in women and men (i.e. eating disorders, sexual addiction, rape, even suicide). Since I have declared my selfhood by saying it is OK to be single, I have come to not only appreciate my freedom, but love myself and my body more. I’m not counting down the days until I meet my husband and live happily ever after. My story doesn’t begin with me meeting “a guy” and end in marriage, my story began years ago and my happily ever after is now.

Beck

Advertisements

My Tinder No-No’s

TINDER

This is the part when I complain about how hard it is to meet people. I know I’m on a college campus surrounded by people my age, but for some reason that doesn’t seem to make it any easier. My track record with guys is literally nonexistent. That’s when my friend told me about an iPhone app called Tinder that allows you to chat with guys that have “liked” your profile.

Oh boy.

I make a profile and quickly get a few matches. Every time I get a notification, I turn into a middle school boy-crazy version of myself. It’s completely trivial but I’m hooked. After a few days of guys not talking to me, I start sending messages myself, most of which are not answered. Gradually, I lose interest and leave the app for a few weeks. Recently, I started using the app again out of idle curiosity and boredom and I realized something important, I don’t like anybody. I don’t think guys know how to market themselves well. Some of the things they show and tell in their profiles make me wonder if they are really trying to meet girls at all. Tinder is all about snap judgments and I have a few cues that tell me immediately to swipe left. Some of these things are specific to me, but some are just plain bad.

I swipe left if you are:
wearing a fraternity shirt or have Greek letters in your profile (You know, just in case we didn’t know you were a d-bag from your pictures.)
in the military (I love you guys, but I don’t want to be an army wife.)
in a boat (because)
with too many SWB (Skinny White Bitches) (I’m not your type.)
with too many bare-chested guys and I can’t tell who I’m looking at (I hope you’re the cute one?)
holding a beer in every photo (Future AA member)
in too many selfies (Self-centered much?)
holding a baby ( I hope it’s not yours…)
playing extreme sports (I won’t be joining you anytime soon.)
holding a gun (Nope.)
holding a fish/are fishing (I just don’t understand fishing culture.)
wearing or waving an US flag (Not super patriotic on this end)
a tattoo enthusiast (One is fine, more than one is excessive)
wearing earrings (Just no.)
wearing a Bieber haircut (NO)
exposing a severe injury/stitches (Seeing your bloody flesh really gets me going.)
mentioning your junk in your profile (SMH)
growing the longest beard in the world (No one wants to kiss that.)
the owner of a weird name (Some of my favorite examples are “Aymen”, “Bo”, and “Shrimp”)

I’m not left with many options after I rule out everyone on that list, which is why I’m convinced I’ll be a spinster. Not that I’m looking for anything serious on Tinder, but it makes me wonder how this whole “fall in love and get married” thing will work out. Usually, the only thing I have in common with guys on Tinder is that we both like the Panthers or Adele. In real life, my opportunities to meet guys have been very few since I have never really been in the “going out” scene. I got my first booty call message on Tinder a few days ago. (For the record, I don’t like cuddling naked…not with you, weirdo.) I’ll probably delete the app soon…as soon as the profiles stop being ridiculous.

Forever alone
Beck

What are your Tinder no-no’s? Let me know in the comments below!

Blueberry and Toothpicks

The nature of blogging is very self-centered. “Everyone look at me and read what I have to say. It’s super interesting because it’s about me and I’m super interesting” said every blogger ever. To avoid the “I’m awesome” trap, I want to say something a little different; “Look at us and how interesting we are”. I want to share the stories of other people as well as my own because we all live interesting stories every day. With this in mind, I want to share a story my sister told me recently.

My sister’s work place has the makings of a perfect office sitcom. She works at the Academic Support Center at a local community college as a science tutor. The center includes tutoring services in math and science, a writing center, and a computer lab, each of which is overseen by a coordinator. The cast of characters includes such classics as the old racist white man, the sassy black woman and her posse, the loner who eats the same lunch every day, the foreigner, and the two young friends, who are the cool ones. (Guess which one my sister is.) Just think of all the funny situations these characters could get into, let alone the weirdo students who come in looking for help. I really want to write that sitcom.

One day, Mac, the loner who eats soup and crackers every day for lunch (he sometimes eats goldfish for variety), was given two beautiful blueberry muffins homemade by the baker of the office, Linda. Linda loves to bake and brings in goodies for her coworkers on occasion. But Mac made a fatal mistake. He left his blueberry muffins in a sealed container on the counter of the office kitchen without any label or friendly eye to watch over them. Will, the old racist, and Sarah were both in the kitchen for their lunch break soon afterwards.
“Want a muffin? They’re for everybody.” Will said.
“Are you sure? There’s only two.”
“Yeah. Why else would they be on the kitchen counter?” Will opens the container and begins to shove warm pieces of muffin into his racist mouth. Sarah eyes the second muffin and decides that Will must be right. The muffins looked too delicious for her to listen to the small voice in the back of her head that told her she may be about to commit muffin theft. “That muffin was delicious” she thought as she took her seat and waited for students to arrive. Meanwhile, Mac discovered his loss and decided to confront Will about the muffins. Will isn’t even sorry.
“You shouldn’t have left them on the counter, man. They were delicious.” He grins.
“Linda baked those for my birthday!” Mac said. Sarah listened on in horror and regret as the scene unfolded behind her table in the tutoring center. Her friend, Cara, heard this too and doesn’t let her forget her shame.
“I can’t believe you stole Mac’s birthday muffin, Blueberry.” She shook her head in mock disappointment and proceeded to email Sarah a collage of blueberry muffins for her enjoyment. Thus, Sarah got a snack and a nickname at the same time by stealing a muffin from a coworker. Poor Mac.

***

Cara likes to play pranks, especially on her guy friends that work in the building. One day, her pranks went a bit too far. While instant messaging through the staff network, Cara asked a friend to get her four menus and seventeen toothpicks from a local Chinese restaurant for a “project”. Her friend believes it is a prank, but Cara is so convincing and urgent that he decides to do her this favor anyway. Cara, distracted from her computer, doesn’t see his message until it’s too late to tell him she was joking. He proudly walks in to deliver his menus and toothpicks while Cara tries to think of a project that would require such odd ingredients. She even pretended that what he brought wasn’t enough and she would have to go back for more. To this day, she hasn’t told him it was a joke and told Sarah, “I will never use my powers of manipulation for evil ever again.” We’ll see Toothpicks, we’ll see.

Beck