These are My Confessions

Ladies of all skintones...we need to talk.

I need you to swear a blood oath with me right now: as we approach the second decade of the 21st Century, I need all of you - especially the heteros - to make a New Year's Resolution to stop freaking out about the "being single" thing.

Don't lie.  I know you.  I went to school with you.  I work with you.  You heteros are all thinking the same thing:  "If I had man, my life would be easier.  My mom/grandmom/sister/aunt/whoever-runs-their-mouth-too-much-in-your-damn-life will shut the hell up and leave me alone."

Because let's face it, y'all: this is the growing reason why modern women are getting married.

Confession #1: I don't feel lonely

Call me dead inside, call me cynical - I'm really not.  I respect couples who function well and I am happy for anyone who falls in love.  However, I'm not jealous nor do I automatically want what they have.  I'll date.  I've had significant others.  Having a man's arms around you feels nice.  Kissing a guy you like feels nice too.  There are all sorts things about having man that feel "nice".  Having your shit together, being accomplished, and knowing you're secure whether you're married or not, however, feels extraordinary.

Confession #2: I'm not sure I would be happy being married with kids

I have a lot of ambitions.  I have a lot things I want to do for myself, for my life.  I don't like the thought of cutting the adventure short or possibly sacrificing it altogether.  I would need a damn good reason.  Call it selfish, but there's just too much world out there.  Most of the women I work with are not happy in their marriages.  Each of them is educated.  Each of them is a professional.  They all got married, not because they were lonely, or because they wanted the husband and kids, or because they even deeply head-over-heels loved the guy, but because they simply thought it's what they were supposed to do.  They felt had to do it, otherwise they'd be seen as a failure of some sort.

Confession #3: I'm tired of being the "balanced" one

The men I've gone out with have either been somewhat fun but borderline freeloaders, or educated and gainfully employed but socially inept.  Both "commend" my discipline for regularly going to class or getting up early every morning for work or working more than one job and maintaining a nice home.  Both "appreciate" me for being so "easy to talk to", and for having such a "calming presence" (whatever the hell that's supposed to mean).  Meanwhile, I'm listening and "calming" all right, but the socially inept ones aren't saying anything remotely interesting.  And the fun ones, with their carefree attitudes and dead-end jobs, well...need I even finish that?

I'm tired being seen as such a "good" girl who's so "dedicated."  There's a very condescending undertone to this.  It's like they're saying "nice girls" are supposed to show up for class, and do their homework, and work hard to make good money.  Um...yeah, bitch - my money.  Where's yours?  Thanks for all the compliments and ish, but what are you doing with your life?  Tell me again why I need to make myself appealing and marriable to you?

Now, let me be clear: I'm not saying I'm the shit.  I'm saying modern women are the shit.  I see bad-ass women every day, everywhere I go, busting their asses, and I am more amazed by us each day.  We do a lot of shit, too much in some cases, like working all day, then coming home and working the dreaded "second shift" while the precious husband we did everything to get, and have given up a lot to keep, chills out on a couch.  Say what?

My eldest sister once said that women are just naturally cool, as though we "have the awesome built in" (as I like to say).  Well maybe we got a little too awesome, and now someone feels the need to knock us down a peg.

All these articles about increasing numbers of single women (especially black women) which hint that maybe we shouldn't focus on school so much, or strive so hard to get good jobs, (or how black women should start having more kids) are meant to knock us down a peg - that's all.  That's it.  It's no different from when smart girls felt the need to dumb themselves down for guys in school, or nowadays, when girls feel pressured to focus on their looks and open their legs to get a boy's attention.

What about single men?

If there's an increasing number of single [hetero] women, then logically speaking, there's an increasing number of single [hetero] men.  Where are the "Why are so many men single?" headlines?  Where's the pressure on men to meet a woman in college and settle down?  And I don't just mean at the family level, I mean at the social and commercial level.  Where are the hordes of self-help books for single men, where are the films about men desperately seeking women for that fairy-tale wedding they've imagined since they were little boys?  Why aren't millions of men freaking about possibly never getting married?  Why aren't millions of men bending over backwards to make themselves appealing for marriage?

Refresh my memory: who coined the term "ball and chain" again?

Women, every time a friend or relative tries to lay The Pressure down on you, ask them this.  And don't be pacified with platitudes and fairy tales; when a woman is educated, financially independent, and overall self-empowered, the old reasons for getting married rapidly fall by the wayside.  She now wants to get married because a man satisfies her - emotionally, psychologically, and physically - and she's neither in the mood nor the position to settle for less.

It's not sour grapes; don't believe the hype

It's not sour grapes if you're a bridesmaid/wedding guest shaking your head wondering why a bright girl like your BFF is wasting her life on some dude.  It's not sour grapes if you find yourself wondering what the bride sees in the groom.  If you find yourself feeling neither angry nor jealous but just shaking your head and thinking, "How pathetic," it's not sour grapes.

These questions should be asked, and "I just love him, okay?" is not an answer.  There are specific things we love about people; when we truly love them, it's not hard to list these things.  How does his mind work?  What does he want to do with his life?  This isn't about his personal philosophy or his tired comedy routine; these are the serious questions.  Rape and domestic violence are two of America's biggest yet least spoken of problems.  How does he see women?  How does he interact with his mom and sisters, if he has any?  How's the sex?  How does he problem-solve?  What does he say and do when she's upset?

Why does he want to marry her?

And no, "I love her" is not an answer.  "Smart, funny, and pretty" are not answers either.  Generic compliments in general don't get to fly.  So be wary of "good listener" and "nice girl", or "beautiful" as both opener and closer, with several suspect mentions in between.  Does he see her, really see her?  And I don't just mean her potential, or what she can become to benefit him, or how she makes his friends envious of him.

What does he know about who she is?

It's not your job to build them

One of my aunties in Houston (not a blood relative, by the way) was trying to convince me that it's lonely at the top.  She would say, "A degree is nothing; man is everything."  This woman, mind you, built her business from the ground up while married to an utter deadbeat.  She invested in him, groomed him, goaded him, and he finally became "something"...but he's still nowhere the "something" she is.  Either way, she still takes great pride in her "handiwork" and talks about her marriage like she's proud of that ish.  Unfortunately, I saw this often in Houston, particularly amongst women of color, and especially amongst African women.

Needless to say, I most assuredly do not co-sign.

It's not my job to "build" my man; there's a sickness in that thinking which just makes my flesh crawl.  If I'm awesome, he needs to be awesome too, and I shouldn't have to show him how.  Perhaps men have a natural inner awesomeness too...but we'll never know if they don't to learn to tap into it without cattleprodding from women.

It's not that marriage is obsolete

That's simply a flawed argument directed at the wrong issue.  I'm all about contracts.  Where my heart and hard-earned possessions are concerned, you best believe I want some laws backing me, and that's what marriage is about.  Having a chance to punish someone for wasting your time, because no one has the right to waste your time.  For the record, if they're not dedicated to you, if you're not one of their top priorities (aside for the kids, if there are any), if they keep trying to get you to settle for being unsatisfied with life in some way...they're wasting your time.

Because that's what much of this boils down to: women don't want a man who'll waste their time.  "I'm not sure how I feel; let's just see where this goes" is a line that has a very strict expiration date.  Not because the biological clock is ticking, but because the woman's very life clock is ticking.  She's got places to go, new realms to explore, things to accomplish - she's got shit to do, and if there's a better way for her to spend her time, then that's what she'd like to move on to, thank you.

Comments

  1. Yes, yes, yes!!!! I agree 1000%! This is something I focus on at my blog. Most (if I am not mistaken) of the BWE blogs focus on black women and marriage. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But since I am not married, it was not a focus I could write about with any authority. However, I do believe I can offer some insights as a single black woman who is determined to live well.

    One of my mantras is: women are women. Women bring the feminine not the masculine. A woman cannot teach a man to be a man. Period. Brava AM for writing about this!

    Peace

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  2. Thanks for pointing out the whole "motherhood is the be-all end-all of womanhood" bullshit. Seriously, if/when I hook up with my future woman (wife seems so limiting), we will NOT be buying a turkey baster.

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  3. *applauds* thank you ! I especially run around cheering at the part about "single men". No emphasis what-so-ever is EVER put on them. I mean like you said, if the women are single, then the men are single. And if this is true they clearly aren't freaking out ... So why should we? Being single isn't the worse thing that can happen to a woman.

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  4. I guess all thinking women feel this way about their generation/place/time in the world, but don't you feel like we're in such a state of flux right now, that we simply must vocalize these feelings about our womanhood? I have a "not the marrying type" post in my blog from a month or so ago. I just get so sick of people asking me why I'm not married after they find out I have children. I hate hearing other women talk about motherhood like it's the best thing that could ever happen to a woman. I AM a mother, and honestly, I feel so trapped sometimes. Often actually. The only thing that makes me a "good mother" is that I think my kids deserve better than the mom they got stuck with, so I try to be what they deserve.

    This post has opened up something big for me. I'm about to end up writing 3-5 paragraphs about what happened to me this past weekend in the Keys. So let me blog on that elsewhere and I will leave you with a poem from one of few women highly recognized for her contributions to the Harlem Renaissance, Georgia Douglas Johnson. It's the only way to express how I feel about marriage (for myself).

    The Heart of a Woman

    The heart of a woman goes forth with the dawn,
    As a lone bird, soft winging, so restlessly on,
    Afar o'er life's turrets and vales does it roam
    In the wake of those echoes the heart calls home.

    The heart of a woman falls back with the night,
    And enters some alien cage in its plight,
    And tries to forget it has dreamed of the stars
    While it breaks, breaks, breaks on the sheltering bars.

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  5. Love this post!!!

    Damn! Can women just be who we are and who we want to be in life without societal limitations.

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  6. @ RVCBard & Victoria

    The motherhood part really bites. Because if you're a woman and you don't want to have kids, or you feel trapped with the ones you have and not cut out to be a great mom, you're often told the problem is you. The problem isn't you; the problem is you grew in a world which dictated a one-size-fits all future for you without taking your actual abilities and inclinations into account.

    I have a "not the marrying type" post in my blog from a month or so ago.

    Read and respected.

    I especially run around cheering at the part about "single men". No emphasis what-so-ever is EVER put on them.

    Normally I'd be furious about this particular glaring omission in dating/marriage statistics, but right now I'm just annoyed. It's like whenever I see the stats and the articles and the blog posts, I roll my eyes and am like, "Good God...go bug them for a change."

    Naturally, my line of thinking is just going to reinforce the knee-jerk "defective woman" response. "She doesn't want children, she's not eager to get married, she must be defective in some way."

    Or the broken heart responses: "Some man hurt her, and now she's bitter and wounded for life." No man hurt me. I'm not nursing a bruised heart. I'm merely swatting at an irritating mosquito buzzing in my ear when I'm trying to do something for Moi.

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  7. Damn, so many people need to read this. I'm totally linking this on my Facebook... you're a genuine shot in the arm.

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  8. "Or the broken heart responses: "Some man hurt her, and now she's bitter and wounded for life."
    That one kills me, the way so many women feed into that garbage! There was some dumb song where the woman was talking about being damaged and expecting the next dude to fix it. WTF, how do you let anyone ruin you like that, first of all? And second - uhh... take care of your own mess, ladies.

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  9. @ Victoria

    I think the message we're peddled is that we're easily ruined (read: fragile, emotional) can't fix ourselves (double meaning, as in "not allowed" and incapable), and that if we say we're not really hurt or we really can recover on our own, we're deluding ourselves.

    Hence the bullshit trend of showing women "recovering" from rape by having tender sex with a different man. Message: if you are harmed by a man, only a man can heal you.


    ...as if.

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  10. I'm happily married; I married relatively young, and I totally co-sign with the idea that having a partner doesn't actually make your life easier. If anything, trying to live two lives in tandem is harder, and it means compromises that you will live to resent if your partner and your relationship isn't worth it, or if s/he isn't giving as much as you are.

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  11. how do you let anyone ruin you like that,

    I don't think it's often an issue of "letting" someone do that to you. That sounds like blaming the victim to me. "Why did you LET that man hit you?" Um, she didn't. He just decided to hit her and did.

    Another reason why so many women feel obligated to get married is to avoid having the label of "damaged goods" slapped onto them. "What? You never got married? Well, what's wrong with you that obviously no man ever asked you (because that's the only reason you haven't married because we know all women jump at the drop of a hat at a proposal)?"

    The first goalpost is "You can't get a man to WANT to fuck you." If you can then it's simply because you're a slut who puts out to everyone. And that's also not special because of the idea of men being dogs who don't care where they rut. So the goalpost gets moved to "You can't get a man to MARRY you." Meaning "You are a failure as a straight woman."

    For a lot of women, the whole marriage thing becomes this big ball of trying to stave off various insecurities, wanting companionship (no problem, we're all human), wanting love (yet again, human), but also trying to prove to others that you are lovable and that you are desirable as a partner and mate and that you are fulfilling the role of straight woman-attracting suitable male suitors. When you leave Being Humanville and arrive in Insecure Heffaland, it's a whole big ass mess.

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  12. "Why did you LET that man hit you?" Um, she didn't. He just decided to hit her and did.

    True, but it doesn't have to happen more than once. Hit me once, shame on you; hit me twice...why am I still here?

    For a lot of women, the whole marriage thing becomes this big ball of trying to stave off various insecurities

    This is more of what we're going for here, the insecurities thing. Remember that convo? It's important to stress the inner problem, because the inner problem is eventually what generates and maintains outer problems.

    Let me be clear. I had neither a validation-filled childhood nor early adulthood. I'm not coming from a "green" background. It's just when I was a kid, I felt like people were just lining up to blame all their problems on me and try to carve out parts of my self-esteem to plug into the gaping holes in their own.

    When ish like that happened, I just had to shrug and think, "Who the fuck is you? Who asked you? Why do you matter again? Like...blow me already."

    Some might call it bitchitude, but I call it logic. If someone can't keep their mouth shut about your life, can't keep their fingers out of your situations, even long after you've started paying your own damn bills and ish, then that person has issues - their issues. I'm not giving myself a drinking problem over other people's expectations - um, no Negro, let's talk about my expectations for a minute, shall we? Let's talk about what impresses me and satisfies me for a spell. When it comes to my life, let's worry about my standards and what I want for myself, thank you.

    I should probably clarify that this is about how women fuck each other up, by the way. A lot of the articles I'm talking about are written by women, as are the blogs. And women go to trainwrecks like Steve Thrice-Divorced Harvey for romantic advice. Say what?

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  13. If you've never been in an abusive relationship, you may not understand. Or if you're a super strong person, you can't understand someone who doesn't have your strength putting up with situations you wouldn't tolerate for a nanosecond.

    Before the physical abuse starts, the abuser has usually softened up the victim to accept it. Usually emotional abuse comes first (and even that doesn't come all at once) and THEN the physical abuse almost seems a natural progression of it. Plus, the abuser has isolated the victim from any support system, family, friends. So where is s/he supposed to GO?

    And it really does NOT help the victim, who is already feeling like shit, ashamed and stupid for what's happening to him/her, to basically make them feel worse as if they brought it all on themselves, or, even if they didn't bring on the first whack, well, they stayed for whacks 2 through 2002. That's what they get. That's the message society, including some of that shut off support system, keeps telling abuse victims.

    As for how women fuck up other women, men initiated the beauty/desirability competition between women. But women help keep it going. Too many of us buy into what SOME loudmouthed men bleat about women. That's why so many women are running around thinking they're too fat, too short, boobs too small. Yet, plenty of fat, short, little tittied women are sexxed up daily. I've yet to meet a man who'd kick a woman out of bed because her tits were too small. And most men know what they're getting upfront (unless ol' girl is stuffing her bra or wearing sky-high heels concealed by pants) so if they weren't interested in a fat, short or little titted chick, they just would not approach.

    But women take the bleatings from the loudmouths (and often the most insecure men who are doing the most bleating) as gospel of what ALL men think/feel and we run with it. We whip up a frenzy like cotton candy.

    I feel most humans are fairly realistic about our dating/mating options. Yeah, dudes may WANT to fuck Halle Berry, Kim Khardashian or Meagan Fox, but they know they're not getting within hooting distance of those women or women like them. If they want to get laid this decade, they'd better look around at what's ACTUALLY available and attainable for them. Chickie may WANT Boris Kudjoe or Brad Pitt, but she knows she'd do better fishing in a less rarified pool.

    I got married at the age of 39 and that was because I didn't find anyone worth marrying. One thing I've learned in my romantic journey (often felt like a forced march) is that a bad relationship is waaaaaaaaayyyyyy more stressful than having NO relationship. TRUST! The main reason I appreciate my husband so much (even if he's driving me nuts now because he quit smoking 3 weeks ago--positive vibes my way please!) is because of the shitcan relationships I'd had before! I also know that finding love is mostly a crapshoot.

    I also can't imagine being so damn nosey that I'd say something about someone else's marital status. First off, I really don't give a shit (the INTJ in me just doesn't ask about ish I don't care about). Secondly, that is just intrusive as hell.

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  14. Naturally, my line of thinking is just going to reinforce the knee-jerk "defective woman" response. "She doesn't want children, she's not eager to get married, she must be defective in some way."

    Yup. Like being queer (or - gasp! - just liking my own space because I'm an introvert). As though that were a defect.

    Extraverted phallocentric fucks.

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  15. I should probably clarify that this is about how women fuck each other up.

    Interesting you should say that. I touch on something similar wrt terror and intimacy for Black and White women.

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  16. @ Witchsistah

    And that untrusion right there, is possibly the core discussion here.

    I guess I must be super strong, but I don't want to talk too much about Moi.

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  17. * intrusion

    @ RVCBard

    Clicked your link and yup...co-sign.

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  18. One of the main problems here is pressure society- well, people in the society (often FEMALE people in the society) put on other women.

    At the end of the day, why would anybody care what you do with your life is beyond me. If your beliefs and actions don't hurt me, it's nothing I should obsess about. And what women do about their personal lives don't hurt me in any way.

    But there's a catch. Many (female) people don't see it that way. They see YOUR actions as something that violates THEM. So if you don't want to get married, they see it as you being against them, or their wish to get married. As if any unmarried woman spits on married ones, or think those are stupid or brainwashed. Projecting much?

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  19. A very excellent post.

    I had a similar conversation with a former student of mine and I had to tip her off to some fundamental truths about how REAL MEN (not trifling ass males) conduct themselves.

    This post was subtitled: Actions To Take When Yo Man Ain't Shit

    http://neo-prodigy.livejournal.com/692652.html

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  20. I don't think it's often an issue of "letting" someone do that to you. That sounds like blaming the victim to me. "Why did you LET that man hit you?" Um, she didn't. He just decided to hit her and did.

    I see what you're saying. I'm thinking more about the self-talk that occurs after a break-up. I'm not thinking so much about victims, because I don't see the person being broken up with as a victim. But since we are on that subject...

    If you've never been in an abusive relationship, you may not understand. Or if you're a super strong person, you can't understand someone who doesn't have your strength putting up with situations you wouldn't tolerate for a nanosecond.

    This is so very true. I don't know what being in an abusive relationship is like. And I do consider myself "strong." That can definitely make me less empathetic.

    I also can't imagine being so damn nosey that I'd say something about someone else's marital status.
    I seriously wish a lot more people were like this. Sometimes I feel like I'm being interrogated, like someone is weighing their preconceived ideas about unmarried women against me and seeing if I fall in line.

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  21. Great post Ankh. I was always encouraged to travel, read, educate myself and pretty much live. I've never felt pressure from my family to marry. They know me well and understand that if marriage/babies were a priority, I'd have those things.

    I've just not been particularly interested in that life. I feel no guilt and no insecurities about it either. This is my nature and I accept these things about myself.

    Would I love to have a great Man in my life? Absolutely. Am I loosing sleep because I don't have one right now? Nope. I love my life, the people I know and living as I see fit.

    My life is full and I am thankful.

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  22. @ Lenoxave

    Took the words right out of my mouth.

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  23. Part of it might also be envy. There are a lot of people out there who are married and miserable because they thought that a marriage is the same thing as a wedding. And since they made babies (y'know, cuz babies are cute until it becomes clear that babies are work), they're stuck with that sorry mofo they dug up.

    So when they see someone who's free, they literally can't stand it, so they have to project all sorts of bullshit to justify their fucked up life choices.

    If the hubby and kids is the life you want, great. If being a homemaker is what you feel compelled to do, rock that shit like Gibraltar. You happy? I'm happy for you. But don't fall into a life just because it's expected of you then get all mad at me because I had the sense not to do the same.

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  24. Mira said "They see YOUR actions as something that violates THEM."

    This so much. So many people act like you must be looking down on them or because you not living like them.

    As far as this whole adulthood things goes, I'm learning as I go making it up as I go along. I'm about to be 31 and most of what I expected out of adulthood has not materialized: I'm not settled, I don't own a home, I'm not married, I have no kids, I got debt whatever. I've definitely been doing a lot of rethinking about what I really want and what makes me happy.

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  25. @ RVCBard

    Especially with young women, it's envy.

    And just as some women get annoyed when other women get mad at their not being "strong" enough, I get furious when women get mad that I don't make the same dumb-ass decisions. And not only that, but have the gall to actually catch a 'tude with me because I'm not getting my ass beat by a man, or because I'm not saddled with a bunch of kids by different daddies, or because I'm not stuck in some nowhere-marriage/relationship, or because I buckled down, went to school, and got a decent job. It's infuriating as hell.

    With moms and older aunties and such - at least in my case - it's a lot about outdated parts of culture. I remember at age 13 I went to the wedding of two fellow Cameroonians. Everyone who spoke at that wedding - male and female - felt the need to point to the woman her husband was "the boss".

    I remember sitting there thinking, "Oh...hell...no."

    If I got married, the first person who pulled that would've gotten a level of fever high enough to deter anybody else from following suit.

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  26. Hi,
    I've been thinking about this a lot lately (and lurking a lot, too- I really like your blog- maybe I'm part of the reason your name pops up in google?* : ). I feel like you were reading my mind/reprimanding me personally, lol!

    The other night I was feeling really sad about being single (I know, I know!). Well, not about being single, but about never having had any sort of relationship or "experience" at all- ever (I'm 21). It sucks because I've recently been wanting to know what it's like to have a boyfriend. I'm also very shy- I'm sarcastic and have a dry humor with my friends, but I'm not "outgoing" at all, so I've never approached a guy, don't chat up strangers, etc. I know being shy isn't a "defect" but it's been frustrating me lately... I cheer up reading blogs, though...

    Also I would love to have a husband/partner one day and children-- in the future. I really want to, I just *fear* ending up like my cousin, whose (finally)ex is a loser, but who's also honestly just lazy about raising her little daughter (who's awesome!). I just hope that I don't have to give up on ever having a partner/kids in order to not be like her (or her other cousin who's ~my age and her baby's father's in prison). I do have a friend that seems obsessed with belittling pregnant women/mothers and feels the need to push that on me every time we're together, and it's getting uncomfortable. It's starting to look like she takes issue with women who don't live or want to live exactly like her, even though she's still young!-- ok, I'll shut up now...

    *now I sound like a stalker. sorry.

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  27. this just in: an old high school acquaintance has used my facebook photos as an opportunity to unload her hair issues on me. Nothing overtly negative just the usual defensive giberish about how she could never wear her hair like that because (the hair that grows out of her own head) wouldn't work on her. It seems my personal photos make people feel bad about their own personal choices. WTF

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  28. It seems my personal photos make people feel bad about their own personal choices.

    ...and they just had to let you know.

    "He who is guilty has much to say" ~ Ashanti proverb

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  29. This post worked so well with my recovery from misery this past week...great post, Ankh.

    Can we just talk about how when you're in college, and you're attempting to focus on getting your degree, people choose those four years to constantly bug you about having a BOYFRIEND, instead of asking how your GRADES are????
    I'm only a sophomore and I have gotten the question "Where's your boyfriend?" literally 100 times since I started school. What do I look like to you, the Barbie that automatically comes with Ken?
    As a college student, I multi-task enough, between clubs and chorales and choirs and classes...why the hell would I need a whining dick around to make my life even MORE complicated?
    I actually think people seem to miss the pleasant feeling of having PEACE OF MIND in their lives, aka satisfaction with your situation, or working to make that better.

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  30. Can we just talk about how when you're in college, and you're attempting to focus on getting your degree, people choose those four years to constantly bug you about having a BOYFRIEND, instead of asking how your GRADES are????

    Fortunately, my dad is so overprotective that I never had that problem.

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  31. "Can we just talk about how when you're in college, and you're attempting to focus on getting your degree, people choose those four years to constantly bug you about having a BOYFRIEND, instead of asking how your GRADES are????"

    That reminds me of a very depressing article I read about college girls at schools where females outnumber males, and how some of them have no qualms about taking up with a guy who was tuning up their roommate/sorority sister just a few days before. Why, you ask?

    Because they need a boyfriend to have fun.

    *head desk*

    And I thought college people were supposed to be smart.

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