I’m Leah, and these are the things that people have told me that I am “too” much of. These are the reasons, according to the general public, why I am single. Too pretty? What in the the actual frick? Yes, somebody told me that. These are the reasons why I am “alone” and “childless” and “empty” and “a little bit chubby.”
And in my life, these are the greatest compliments that I am given. Before I jump butt first into why, let me tell you a little bit about myself (besides what you already know of me basically being a real life version of Beyonce.)
I am 31 years old and about 31 pounds heavier (all french fry weight) than I want to be (but hey, consistent). I can’t ever see babies in the ultrasound pictures. In fact, I have spent my entire life ooooing and awwwwing over ultrasounds that look like black and white finger paintings.
I know, I’m so unwomanly, but deciphering ultrasounds is just not my spiritual gift, mmkay? I have been gluten-free and dairy-free for about 7 months, and it absolutely sucks. Don’t do it unless you have to, and don’t let some yoga instructor with a perfect topknot who has knit her own clothes out of, I don’t know, organic flaxseed, make you feel bad about loving Chili’s chips and queso.
I work at a church in Sterling Heights, Michigan, as their youth program director. I do graphic design, event planning, and I make my boss tea. I think that I can dance better than I actually can. I am an absolute diehard Detroit Red Wings fan and I daydream about punching Sydney Crosby in the face. I recently cut 11 inches off my hair, and also noteworthy, I changed the way that I do my eyeliner. I am the whole package, y’all.
So why am I single? The honest answer is that I don’t even know.
I would hands down, 1000%, date me. I think the spiritual answer would be because “God hasn’t brought me the right person yet,” but I don’t even know if that’s the reason. You see, I could be in a relationship if I wanted to be. If it’s what I really, truly desired, I could find a man who would be enough for the moment. And that’s what so many of us do.
We fill our moments instead of filling our lives.
We meet wants instead of meeting needs. And when those moments pass and those wants change, we find ourselves in a how-did-I-get-here scenario where we have come to love someone who is absolutely wrong for us and who has a goatee and, while he plays Zelda, you’ve locked yourself in the bathroom texting your bff, “HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?” Well, that’s an easy one: you made it happen.
Awhile back, I made a decision to break that cycle. There’s no need for it. There’s no place for it.
Before I get knee deep in this, please let me reassure you that I love men and I have 326 celebrity crushes. But let’s also be clear that Tom Hardy holds the #1 spot and I don’t see that changing any time soon. With that said, this absolutely is not going to be a man-bashing blog, so if I at times seem harsh on the opposite sex, it’s only because there are women out there that need the desperate and harsh truth.
I have the platform to give that truth. In the same way, I want to point out that even though I might address women more, these roles can be reversed. I’m talking to both sexes, because let’s be honest…some of y’all girls are CA-RAAAAZY!!! So now, let the the deepness commence.
When you started reading this article (assuming you’re still reading), you saw a list of things that I was “too” much of. This isn’t a made up list, guys. These are actual things that people, friends, family, strangers, arabic women at Walmart, and pastors have told me that I am. These are the reasons, according to them, that I am single.
It’s super funny to me, as these are really great qualities. Like I said, they’re some of the greatest compliments that I’ve ever received. The qualities listed are ones that I would love my daughters to possess. They are qualities that are praised in the media, through music, and in poetry. They are attributes that are showcased by celebrities, politicians, authors, speakers, and actors.
We love these things…EXCEPT when we’re trying to get a man.
I remember a few years back a guy friend telling me that if I wanted to score a guy I should stop wearing red lipstick. He said that it was “intimidating” for men and that it would make a man second-guess kissing me.
Okay, first of all, this tube of lipstick cost $40 at Sephora, so I would second-guess if I wanted him to kiss me. Like, my lips are currently worth a tank of gas, so do I really have the money to be sharing it? Let me check my budget.
Secondly, how dare you? If there is one thing that I am absolutely, obnoxiously conceited about, it’s my lips. They’re beautiful. They’re full and perfect. You will not take away their one purpose in life: to wear lipstick. If I had to choose between kissing men who don’t like lipstick and my lipstick, let’s just say there would still be a monthly lipstick allowance in my budget.
Thirdly, I am glam, I’m always going to be glam, and I literally “wake up like this.” I won’t apologize for that. I like getting girly. I like putting fancy stuff on and like corresponding my lipsticks with my outfit because that’s me! Why would I change my personality to make sure that a guy wants to kiss me? Homeboy can go kiss someone else with not as gorgeous lips, for all I care! I mean who is losing out, really? Not us! (Us meaning my lips and me…)
So as ridiculous as that was, it’s an incredibly common thing that single people face.
But why? Why do we put these limitations on people? And this isn’t just for women, but for men, too. Why do we tell people to completely alter who they are to get a boyfriend or girlfriend? Do we realize the mixed messages that we are sending? Do we realize the lasting damage that this can cause?
Why am I applauded for being smart, but not applauded if I am smarter than my partner? Why am I praised for being confident and self-assured, but am told to “tone it down” and become more needy and dependent if I want a husband? Why am I looked upon as a role model for my healthy body image, but told to lose a few pounds to score a guy?
Why am I celebrated for being successful and high up in my job, but made to feel guilty if I make more money than he does? And the most confusing one of all, why do we tell young men and young women to create lists of what they want in a mate, to be picky, particular, and selective in whom they choose, but then once they hit 25ish, tell them that they are being unrealistic and silly and need to be less precise?
Do we see the double standard that we are selling? Do we recognize our guilt in this process? Are we able to admit our role in the epidemic of toxic, never-should-have-happened relationships?
We do have guilt. We have a ton of guilt in this, actually. Every day, we tell people to be extraordinary, but then encourage them to be ordinary in relationships. We tell them to be assertive and excited and motivated at their jobs but then to go with the flow in their relationships.
I understand compromise, and I understand that not everything is about you in relationships, but what I don’t understand is why we are prompted to lose ourselves.
As women, it especially seems that we are shoved into this idea of becoming less for the man. Instead of finding more of a man, we tone it down to become less of ourselves. We become insecure when a man can’t handle our beautiful, strong, incredible qualities and try to dumb ourselves down so that he feels better. Have we ever stopped to consider that the problem doesn’t lie in your strength, but in his lack of strength?
For me, the biggest thing that I would change in the culture of singleness is the pressure that is felt.
I would eliminate the question, “Are you dating anybody?” from the common conversation. I would replace it with questions like, “What’s something that you’ve recently done that you’re proud of? What’s the best thing that’s happened to you this month? Who is somebody in your life that could use more love from you?”
When we lead with questions about people’s status and not questions about their soul, we send them a message about what we value as important.
And yeah, it’s super exciting when somebody finds someone they’re crazy about! Trust me, the WHOLE WORLD WILL KNOW when I find my man. But…crazy thought…is that the absolute best thing that can happen to me? And in the same way, is not having a man the absolute worst thing that can happen to me?
I have said this a million times, and I will say it a million more times until everybody hears it and understands it: I don’t want to be someone’s second choice. I don’t want someone to change their list to make me fit on it. And in the same way, I don’t want him to be my second choice.
I don’t want to get rid of things that I will love about my husband to fit into what I think is good right now. I don’t want to compromise on him. It’s not fair to him. It’s not fair to me. And it’s not fair to the people who could truly be happy with us.
We need to change our emphasis. We need to change our focus. I want to get married. Deeply. Truly. Absolutely. But if I don’t get married, I won’t die.
I won’t Anne-of-Green-Gables it in the “depths of despair.” I won’t be incomplete and lost and without value. I’ll be Leah. I’ll be exactly who I am right now. I’ll be planning my next vacation and spoiling my nieces and nephews. I’ll be fantasizing about punching Pittsburgh Penguins players in the face. I’ll be laughing and loving and enjoying life. And you know what else I’ll be?
Smart. Confident. Particular. Pretty. Curvy. Glamorous. Self assured. Funny. Focused. Ambitious. Successful. Inspired.
Leah Barterian works as the Youth Program Director at Grace Christian Church in Metro Detroit, Michigan. She is extremely passionate about singleness, purity, and instilling purpose in others. She loves baked cheetos, puppies, nature, and twitter. She inexplicably hates green beans and black beans. Follow Leah on Twitter and Instagram @Leahbarterian.
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