About a week or so ago, I found myself engrossed in a round robin conversation about current affairs with a few other like-minded women. Eventually, the topic of conversation drifted to matters of self-perception of personal success and progress, professionally and otherwise. We each took turns discussing how our childhood selves imagined our adult lives developing, and how it compares to the current reality of our late twenties. As we each took our turn, a theme started to reveal itself: our younger versions clearly overestimated how much of this adulting shit we would have figured out.
It’s not a secret that as we are launched into the throes of adulthood, we often drift away from the pristine path that we imagined life to be during childhood. A life we envisioned to be blissfully full of independence and free of restriction. My mother and I always like to joke about an assignment that I completed in the first grade, an activity titled along the lines of “Where I will be when I’m Thirty”. Six year old Cierra apparently had “big” plans including a career as a Pediatrician, two children, and a town-home. Now, I absolutely love where I am in life right now. When it comes to my professional career, family, and educational path, I have absolutely no complaints. I am blessed to live a comfortable lifestyle, been privileged to earn two higher degrees, travel often, and frequently enjoy the company of good folks with good vibes. A few bumps and bruises aside, life is grand. However, society has a way of fucking with perspective, despite our best logic.
If you’ve read some of previous short essays, you may know that I have had…quite the tumultuous romantic track record. The ups and downs of my last few relationships have left me completely burnt out, and honestly, lacking emotional capacity or hope in humankind *insert eye roll emoji*. The thing is though, if I looked at the components of my life as a pie chart, logically my romantic relationships should only take up a slice of about twenty percent. Irrational Cierra takes that twenty percent and somehow inflates it into seventy percent, and I throw in all of the dramatic feels just for shits and giggles. I blame my Zodiac and the woes of loving heart first. At any rate, over the course of the last few months, I’ve done a considerable amount of self-evaluation of my feelings regarding my personal perception of worth.
That being said, let me go back to this round robin conversation. As we sat and talked, I reveled in the awesomeness that was our collective group. A handful of beautiful, intelligent, career driven, educated black women…all of us essentially nothing short of unstoppable. But somehow, we all felt our romantic misfortunes to be shortcomings.
Where along the way did we become so brainwashed that even as phenomenal women, we still feel incomplete due to the absence of a consistent partner. Why are dissolved relationships automatically considered failures? Despite all my best efforts, it’s hard to shake. It’s hard to think back on previous relationships and not think “why wasn’t I enough to make it work?”. It’s become second nature now to find blame within oneself, instead of forcing the mind to think objectively about the relationship. Was the timing right? Were you actually compatible? Did you believe more in the expectation, than the reality of your partner? Was it truly a balanced and healthy relationship? …so on, so forth. What’s most interesting to me, is when I think back on that assignment I completed in first grade, there’s no mention of a partner. Little Cierra was thinking both simultaneously selfishly and successfully. She was visualizing personal progress for self. Over the past 21 years, I have slowly unlearned how to be selfish to the point of being overly altruistic. I’ve ignored the simple and essential fact that life can be lit while single.
“I can’t be everything to everyone else if I am nothing to myself” – Alex Elle
So here was the question: At what point did I decide that my worth was dependent upon my ability to maintain a romantic relationship? When did my perception of self become so warped that I’ve lost sight of the simple principle that the love I have for myself should fill me to completion?
I’ve absolutely no clue outside of acknowledging that societal pressures are a bitch. But now that I’m acknowledging this backwards thinking, where do I go from here? WELL…
I’m referring to this summer as “Savage Summer ’17” . Not only have I promised myself to be outchea living my best life, but I’m relearning how to be selfish. As a serial monogamist, this will be a teensy bit challenging…but I’m pushing myself to groom and define my passions in order to leave this world a little better than it was before. Being single doesn’t mean that I’m alone, it simply means that I have time to relearn myself and find myself outside of the role of girlfriend. And perhaps, with a lot of focus, I’ll begin to stop viewing the removal of people from my life as abandonment, but instead as a way to make room for someone truly aligned with me to eventually integrate themselves into my happiness. A happiness that I have birthed and personally molded.
A happiness that I’m so in love with, that I will never again become lost in the fold of another.