It can be really hard being a single, black woman over 30 with her life “together” (if one can ever truly have themselves together.) Add to that a single mother, and people look at you as if something MUST be wrong with you.
“You’re so beautiful. Why won’t anyone settle down with you?” I remember this question from a guy a few years back. A single guy, of course. I’m sure his intentions were not to sound like a complete idiot, but I get the same question in a variety of different ways quite often. My response to him was, “Who said I wanted to settle down with anyone?” My response to others is typically along the lines of, “I haven’t found the right person.”
Now let’s pause here. I’ve always hated the label, “Independent Black Woman.” It’s typically negatively assigned to the bitter woman who “don’t need no man.” Single, attractive black women over the age of 30 who have themselves together are always lumped into one big “Independent Black Woman” Category:
The Independent Black woman:
- She is Rude
- She is loud
- She is aggressive
- She “don’t take nothin’ off no man”
- She believes there are no good men out there
- She exerts much of her time and energy into proving that she is independent
But what about those of us who just haven’t found anyone to settle down with? What about those of us who actually like men, and believe that there are great men out there? What about the women who understand that relationships require compromise, nurturing, understanding, and are more than willing to provide all of the above to the right man?
I’ve always been a loner. I’m super selective about who I spend my time with. I’ve never been one to have a group of friends that I always hung around. I don’t have that “bestie” from the 3rd grade. A good part of my 20s were spent “playing the field,” so to speak. Living carelessly and carefree as many 20-somethings do. It wasn’t until I was 28 that I truly fell in love with someone. It didn’t last long, and I left completely heartbroken. Since then, I’ve dated a bit, but nothing serious.
People say I find something wrong with everyone, and this is probably quite true. But why would I settle down with someone if I have to constantly overlook something that really gets on my nerves? My bff told me one day, “Karissa, you’re single because you just don’t put up with anything. You’re going to have to put up with something.” But WHY? Why is my only option to settle for someone that I don’t want. To live with someone who I can happily live without? Why are we not given the freedom to choose to be alone rather than settle? Why is it that if I’m not with anyone, it’s because no one will have me? Why can it not be that I just haven’t found anyone that makes my life greater than it already is?
Sure, it would be nice to have someone. But it’s also nice to be alone. It’s nice to travel to an unknown place, with or without someone. To do as I wish, when I wish to do it.
I always hear, “you will regret not settling down when you get older.”
I find it hard to believe that I will regret not settling down later, more than I will regret wasting my now with someone I’m not fully invested in.
I sat with a woman the other day. I believe she was in her 50s or 60s. She shared with me a video from a roadtrip she had taken… alone. Just her and her dog. I marveled at how happy and at peace she was while she was telling her story about stopping where she wanted, sleeping where she wanted – spoiling herself at some spots, and opting for more affordable options at other places. “Destination undetermined,” she said. It spoke to me, because that is the name I’d considered for my travel agency the year before.
As I sat quietly soaking in her words, I realized, “It’s OK to be me.” It’s OK to not live by the societal standards. People don’t know what to do with a single, black mother who is not looking for a father for her son, nor is she angry. The “independent woman” who surprises you with how kind she is. Men are taken aback. “A unicorn,” I was recently called… whatever that means. I had dinner with a guy, and he kept saying, “wow, you’re really nice! I can’t believe you look so good and you’re so nice. You weren’t what I expected.”
It’s unconventional. Outside of the box. Not often seen. Never understood.
I got a call from an old friend the other day. We chatted a bit. He asked if I was dating, and I told him I wasn’t. He said, “you’re the prettiest most content person I’ve ever met.” It reminded me of Philippians 4:12: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…”
We can never experience the fullness of life if we can’t be content with who we are, where we are, with exactly what we have.
So I choose to be the NEW Independent Woman:
- She is kind
- She exudes a quiet confidence
- She understands her power, and doesn’t need to waste time proving it
- She chooses her associations wisely to avoid unnecessary drama
- She believes great men exist
- She has nothing to prove
At the recent BlogHer conference, someone said (I wish I remembered her name)…
You can be this strong powerful woman and still be feminine and have fun.
And I agree… because I am.