I still feel like I’m apologizing for the space I take up in this world. Avoiding looking around too much in public so my eyes won’t intrude on anyone’s day. I pride myself on minding my own business but I’ve been stifled under the spatial limitations I’ve yet to get to the core of unpacking. My breaths are few and contrite but force themselves from my chest out of necessity. I’ve never been comfortable claiming unapologetic because apologetic is all I am.
I’ve taken this attitude of “shrunken” into relationships. Not becoming too grand in hopes of not becoming overwhelming. Asking for validation in things I easily permit myself to do in my seasons of singleness and somehow it only came to feel wrong when that position of power over me was taken before it could be given. I’ve relinquished my say so countless times to pacify the ego of whoever held my affection but the moment the boundaries I didn’t even know I had were crossed, I’d clap back. In a way, I created my own balance of self-deprecating submissiveness and empowerment —enough to carry across my back. But once weight was added by way of expectations that I didn’t give myself, all bets were off.
It took a conglomeration of the inevitable clashes of ego to sideline me and force introspection into who I was and how that affected my love life.
There’s a natural discomfort that accompanies the act of forcing something big into a tiny space, grand ideas into an inferior mind, a powerful light behind a shadow not big enough to hide its rays. I had been allowing lackluster men to eclipse my brilliance. I was the breaker of my own heart.
It occurred to me that I hadn’t done my due diligence in any of the relationships I found myself in. I had been chosen rather than doing the choosing. That’s never been my endgame —polishing my qualities enough for a glimmer of my potential to catch the eye of a man. I understand why it’s a concept. Love is our primary function. Before there was ambition and glass ceilings to break, there was love, sex, and family. The evolution of our bodies, of our hormones and our basic instincts, has yet to catch up with the evolution of the world and we yearn for it as much as we hunger for food to satisfy our bellies.
I’ve been deprived of love enough in my life to succumb to the temptation of accepting it from sources plated with potential. Enough to be hopeful even when the thin coating of promise has clearly faded. I’ve also been deprived of love enough to starve myself of it completely until something suitable presents itself. With each new disappointment, I become the latter. Until something more promising than I had ever experienced drifts into my line of vision, I become the former —eager to latch on in fear that there’s nothing better out there.
I never anticipated the farce that dating would become past the age of 25. Never dreamed that prospects would be so few and so far between. I didn’t know in my early 20s to be as picky as I am approaching 30. There was an unspoken sense of “be happy someone likes you and make it work”. From my growth, I couldn’t imagine giving a thought to some of the men I gave my heart to. Most, if I’m honest, was more lost than I was. There was an expectation that they knew what they wanted when they chose me, that they knew what they were doing, what they were about and how I played into their life goals. None of that was true. They were winging it as much as I was. That realization changed me.
I’ve never had too many specifics about what my “type” was. That’s not to say that I was void of standards —I just knew that there were too many variables to consider to ever be able to decide specifically what I wanted prior to seeing it all in action. With each failed relationship, each disappointing person of interest, my watchlist evolved. I experienced things that highlighted qualities and problem areas I didn’t preemptively check for.
The problem with “getting chose” is that it supports a one-sided narrative. One person, usually the man, is the lead and the woman, the supporting role. That one-or-the-other perspective is fine for sharing stories, not for sharing a life.
I dated an artist once who essentially decided when the relationship began —although I initially spoke against a relationship — and when it ended. It lasted a meager few months, though the insecurity of being dumped with no reason lingered for years. The duration was infested with conversations timed at his convenience regardless of my own creative zone. When I’d text or call, sometimes I’d be ignored for an entire day.
It wasn’t the only one-sided relationship I experienced but it was the end of my acceptance of having my ambition sidelined in support of someone whose reciprocity was under construction.
I’m too much for some people and not enough for others. That’s fine.
I’m still working on breathing freely in unfamiliar places, shared spaces and in conversation with individuals who seem to be more well-versed in life than I am. I am, however, completely through with apologizing for having a voice, needs, thoughts, opinions, ambitions —life.