Archive for March, 2013


All by myself?

All by Myself

I’ve postponed it as long as possible. I didn’t want this to be a “single girl” blog. However, for whatever reason I have had a lot of conversations about singleness, and more specifically my singleness, this week and it seemed appropriate to tackle the topic. After all, being single is one piece of my reality. It isn’t my only reality by any means. There’s the reality of being a sister and daughter who loves her family, the reality of being a professional entrusted with the task of daily caring for over 150 college students, the reality of being a reliable friend, a passionate student and counselor in training, a mixed woman, and, most importantly, a beautiful child of God. My relationship status doesn’t define me; it doesn’t determine my identity. With all that being said, it has shaped me and I wouldn’t be who I am today without it. Today, I love who I am, and in more ways than one, I have my singleness to thank for that.

But… When I’m at a baby or bridal shower, a wedding, or the birthday party of one of my friends’ children I’m struck by a strange, indefinable feeling. The best way I can describe it is a warmness that comes from seeing a person you love happy, mixed with a sick sadness that one more person has moved on to the next chapter leaving me left behind in the dust, chased by the thought of, “Wow, I think everyone should get a personal shower where they are celebrated. I could really use a spice rack and a new set of towels right about now.” In that moment, I know more than ever that the stage of life I am in is a gift, but it’s a HARD gift. I love that I can work a crazy job that keeps me busy on late nights and weekends without having to worry about anyone else, but still it would be nice not to come back to an empty apartment after a long day. It’s great that I can spend my money on sparkly eye liner or a trip to see my sister without answering to anyone about where the money is going, but budgeting would sure be more fun with another person’s opinion. A second income wouldn’t be so bad either. I like that when I graduate next May I can pick up and start over and not worry about whether or not that action forces someone I care about to start over as well, but it might be nice to have someone to share the adventure with. The stage I am is bittersweet to say the very least.

Perhaps it isn’t just singleness that is bittersweet, though. Maybe that’s just life. My newly-married friends tell me how difficult the first year of marriage is and though they wouldn’t trade it, it isn’t easy. My friends who are new parents tell me about long, torturous, sleepless nights, bouts of cabin fever when it is too cold to go outside or the kids are sick, or the frustration of tantrums from toddlers. More seasoned couples tell me about the struggles with keeping their marriage fresh and alive while managing busy schedules and just doing their best to make sure their children grow into healthy, well-rounded adults.

So that’s just it. Life is a gift, a hard, HARD gift. We could spend our whole lives wishing away the chapter we are in, only to discover if we flip a few pages, the next chapter is just as difficult. There’s financial struggles, fertility issues, divorce, illness, career confusion, and the list of opportunities for pain goes on and on. Though the bitterness never ends, the sweetness will never begin if we keep thinking happiness is only attached to one particular past or future moment.

So, I’m done buying into the lie. I’m finished believing I will never have as much joy as I could have if I had a ring on my finger or this were a “pregnant lady” blog instead of a “single girl” blog. There’ll be no more thinking a great partner hasn’t walked into my life because I am not pretty enough or I am doing something wrong. I have no more space for putting my dreams and ambitions on hold because being a woman who knows what she wants and goes for it and appears not to “need” the opposite gender is troublesome for some men. I proclaim this to be a season of contentment! One where fairytales come in all shapes and sizes and the fib of happily ever after stays in the Rom-Coms and storybooks. I’m writing my own kind of story now and this chapter is turning out great.

I’ve been hearing the question “What are you?” my whole entire life. Sometimes I hear it from curious little children and other times I hear it from adults it seems should know better. There was a time I wasn’t sure I knew the answer, but as I’ve gotten older, I have gotten closer. Today is the last day of this year’s Black History Month. It’s a month that always makes me a bit reflective. I think about the warriors who came before me such as the Lovings who made a marriage like that of my parents possible. I contemplate what it means to be black or white or both. I wonder if someday my children will grow up around people who have found a kinder way to get the question “What are you?” answered.

As a teenager, I always hated the way I looked. Tears would roll down my cheeks as I stared at myself in the mirror despising my pasty-white skin, giant forehead, curly hair, and gap-teeth. I couldn’t believe how ugly I was. I’d put on a brave face and wear big dangly earrings, pleather pants, and silvery lip gloss, but I still felt the same. My style never fit, my hair was labeled as sponge-y, interesting, or weird, my taste in music and movies was nothing like that of my peers and my skin was too pale for most of the people in Maine to realize at first glance that I was mixed. Boys never liked me and girls never envied me. I wasn’t white enough to fit.

I was so excited when I got to college. I was no longer “Caitlin,” I was now “Cat” and I could be anyone I wanted to be. I could be loud and smart and quirky and cool, but most importantly I thought I would no longer an anomaly! Chicago was this glitzy, glamorous place in my mind where black women were proud to wear their hair in afros and mixed college students were a dime a dozen. People of all colors and background would mix and I would finally find my place. If I had done my research, I would have found that Chicago was far from the promised land I had pictured it to be, but instead I found myself in one of the most segregated cities in the States and mixed people over the age of six seemed no where to be found. The few I did spot didn’t seem quite as anxious as me to talk about it. I discovered that black people in Chicago are very different culturally from my mother’s family in New York and I didn’t fit in with them any better than I had in Maine. In addition, I found myself at a college filled with more tall, thin, blonde women than I realized it was possible to contain in one place. When you lined me up next to them, I might as well have been an alien from an entirely different planet. Boys still didn’t like me, girls didn’t want to borrow my clothes, nobody wanted to burn my cds or borrow my movies, and it was beginning to look like no matter where I went my problems would follow me. I blamed everyone else for a really long time. They were all closed-minded, ignorant, mean, superficial, and the list went on and on. I was angry at God, angry at my parents, angry at my friends, angry at those tiny, toothpicky blondes and angry at myself for my inability to fit in. Why couldn’t I be normal for once? Why did I always have to stand out? Why couldn’t my skin be a little bit darker, my hair a little bit straighter, my waist a little bit smaller and my stature a little bit taller? I’d never be white enough or black enough or the perfect blend of both like the women you see in the magazines would I?

Sometimes things in life just click. We have a magical moment when we are reading something in a book or having a conversation with a friend and we’re given an epiphany and we see things clearer than ever before. This isn’t one of those times. I can’t pinpoint a moment when things changed, but for the first time in my 26 years, I wake up and I love the women I see in the mirror. She is beautiful. Her hair is long and gorgeous, her eyes are a bright, bold blue, her short stature is endearing, she has great fashion sense, and her makeup is stunning. Men may never like her, women will absolutely never envy her, and she will never be good at being black or being white, but now she knows she doesn’t need to be. The Lord made her to be unique with fair skin and curly hair and the question “What are you?” doesn’t scare her quite as much anymore. She is who she is and she doesn’t plan on changing for the comfort of anyone.