While visiting a BWE bog I responded to one of the posts sparked by a recent Washington Post newspaper/online article about, what else, black women dating outside their race. Mind you this was not the entire focus of the post, more of a jumping off point to discuss black women and their/our need to deconstruct some of the prevailing myths about black women and who were are (or are supposed to be) according to ‘Ye Olde Black Monolith’.
The part of the post having the most immediate resonance with me was the discussion regarding self-actualization and how it can be achieved without a man.
My entire comment is in response to this particular portion of the post:
“Of course women can be self-actualized without being married, partnered or dating. Self-actualization requires a woman be in relationship with herself not with another person. The negative slant mainstream media have attached to being an ‘educated, single, greater than 40’ black woman is a constant mantra these days. Rest assured the negativity will only increase. Mainstream media love pathology and surely, in the estimation of the media, there is a goldmine of pathology embedded in being a single, black woman over 40.
In this marriage-minded culture, singlehood is looked upon as a problem to be solved rather than a way of living and being in the world. If a person is single by circumstance (i.e. the person wants to be married but is not for any number of reasons) then the poor unfortunate warrants pity. If a person deliberately chooses to be single then the person is thought odd at best and quite possibly deviant at worst.
Being single at an age greater than 40 is not the indication of failure some women believe it to be. It is not an occasion for people to pity a woman because (in their opinion) she wasn’t pretty enough, thin enough or lucky enough to be chosen by some supposed prince charming. Nor is it an occasion for people to cheerfully point out her ‘situation’ is her fault because she thought too highly of herself in her 20’s and 30’s, was too picky and therefore deserves to be a lonely, bitter, childless spinster at the ripe old age of 40. Can you say schadenfreude?
Actually, what better time exists for one to develop an inner-life? What better time exists for one to embark on the journey of deep self-reflection? When is there a more opportune time for the deep work one must undertake to achieve self-actualization? This is not to say these things cannot be achieved if one is in any way partnered, rather, I’m saying being single presents a great chance to focus your attention on yourself.”
I am dedicating a few posts about singlehood on this blog because I believe it is important to discuss various perspectives with regard to empowering black women to make more informed choices in their lives.
I think it is of paramount importance for black women to understand single and childfree does not equal failure! This is a false construct! This mindset keeps you focused on what is perceived as lack rather than what is actually abundance.
‘If I don’t have a man, where is the abundance’ you ask? Your abundance is in the opportunity to focus on what you do have. Mental, emotional, spiritually, psychological, financial, whatever! Now is the time to examine, excavate, uncover, and discover Who You Really Are!
Focusing on what you do not have only increases your awareness of what you do not have….which tends, in my experience, to depress the heck out of you.
Focusing on what is present in your life intensifies your gratitude for what is (again in my experience). Focusing on what is brings you into the present moment. No magical thinking. No fantasy. When you know what is real, you can work to accept what is real or work to change what is real (and learn to discriminate between what is changeable and what is not).
This is not to say life will be a cakewalk, but isn’t it better to expend your energy on reality rather than fantasy? Isn’t better to know who you are and to trust your knowledge than to accept an identity other people have attached to you?