I am a writer, and my first published piece was a love note to a boy named Antoine*. I saw him and instantly knew that he was the one. I mean he was cute, and that was enough. I never had a class with him or spoke a word to him. He had no idea that I existed, and that was my safe place.
That same year, Ciara and Bow Wow was the “it” thing way before she and Russell were even thought of. They had me singing their duet, “Like You,” without taking one breath. In the same era, Usher released his seminal work, Confessions, on which the classic “Superstar” had me shamelessly singing, “I’ll be your groupie baby ‘cuz you are my superstar. I’m your number one fan. Give me your autograph, and sign it right here on my heart.” So, in February 2006, it was only natural for me to lyric my own truth. I penned a secret admirer message for the Valentine’s Day school newsletter. I can’t remember what all I wrote, but let me tell you this: its depth rivaled all the best ’90’s/2000’s R&B on my Mp3 player.
“Who wrote this?” Antoine was at a loss. The whole 7th grade wanted to know, “Who wrote that letter?” I never wanted him or them to find out. To me, I was ugly: ugly hair, ugly skin, ugly face, ugly clothes, just ugly. A year later, some boy even posted a list of the “ugliest girls in 8th grade” on the Crush Spot website. Yours truly was on there. Surely, if Antoine and the whole school found me out, I would be clowned. He would be embarrassed. I didn’t want to do that to him.
One of my best friends to this day spilled the beans to another boy that I crushed on for years. Antoine finally knew my name, and I did my best to hide. Time eventually made me irrelevant to school gossip, and we all moved on.
For most of my life, I’ve been single. I’ve never quite stopped hiding from “boys” out of fear that they’d reject me. I’ve authored so many romance novels in my head for boys and men that I couldn’t look in the eye in real life. I’ve hidden my beautiful smile from guys that gave me butterflies because I didn’t want them to think I liked them. It even took me years to develop real friendships with men because I didn’t know how to speak to them. I didn’t know how to just be my plain amazing self.
I am a whole blossoming person of many realities: single and sometimes lonely; single and sometimes really happy; single, scarred, and sometimes scared.
I hope that I won’t be single always.
I am dope and desire to share myself with someone who’ll celebrate me like I’ve learned to do for myself.
I dream about sitting in a restaurant, on the couch, or in the car singing along to the radio with bae.
I have an exquisite imagination and wonder where I’ll meet my love. Will it be in the summer? Will I be sitting on a bench near the Detroit Riverwalk in my pretty sundress while reading a book about Blackness? Will he see me and politely pursue his curiosity?
Sometimes, I fear that my imagination disqualifies the best from happening. Maybe, it’s too good to be true. I have to remind myself that God is capable and proven to exceed what I envision. My imagination isn’t too good to be true. It simply isn’t good enough to know what all God can do.
In this life, I am more proud of being a friend, daughter, sister, niece, mentee, mentor, and cousin than I am of any material accomplishment. I look forward to when my partner meets my support system. He’ll see that each of my seasons without him were already full in their own way. We’ll explore fullness in new, refining ways, together.
I want my future children to have an incredible father. From him, I want them to learn that masculinity and vulnerability actually complement each other. I laughingly picture them being embarrassed by their parents who kiss and hold hands in public. Ewww.
Lastly, I am practicing how to choose my words with care. No more proclamations of:
Singleness is not a death sentence. If ‘alone’ turns out to be what God has for me, he’ll grace me through it. Yet, as I wait for what I hope, I’ll speak kindly to myself. I’ll write honest words to encourage others as I, too, carry along.
I crave to be held, chosen, and seen, but I won’t settle for anything. Not even a good thing. I am praying for the best thing that God can give me. Whoever is for me will overwhelmingly embrace me. My journey with anxiety and depression won’t scare them away. My healing father wounds won’t repel them or ruin my destiny. My lack of rhythm will endear them and not humiliate them. My love for both quietness and deep conversations won’t discomfort them. My relative lack of romantic experience won’t dissuade them.
As I grow kinder toward myself, my insecurities are being repurposed. I am cultivating greater grace for my future partner.
This Valentine’s Day, I don’t have any plans. I hope that changes one year soon. But for now, I’m okay. I feel sad every now and then, but I’m still expectant. I am grateful to be myself. I have an identity in Christ that anchors me. If or when I find a person, what a blessing they’ll find in me.
*Antoine is a pseudonym
Jess!!! This was a beautifully written piece. You had me when you referenced Ciara’s, “Like you” because who didn’t want to feel like that?! I could definitely relate to many of the things you mentioned. You summed up exactly how it feels to be single for the majority of adulthood. One thing that I really liked was how you are being more kind to yourself and thinking better thoughts. You’re an excellent writer. And this piece deserves to be heard.
😭 Leah, thank you so much!! I knew the music references would resonate with you 😂💜