Too Much Woman

Too smart. Too confident. Too particular. Too pretty. Too curvy. Too glamorous. Too sure of myself. Too funny. Too focused. Too ambitious. Too successful. Too inspired.
I’m Leah, and these are the things that people have told me that I am too much of. These are the reasons, according to the general public, why I am single. Too pretty? What in the actual frick? Yes, somebody told me that. Apparently, that’s a huge deterrent to men. These are the reasons why I am alone and childless and empty and a little bit chubby.

And in my life, these are the greatest compliments that I am given. Before I jump butt first into why, let me tell you a little bit about myself (besides what you already know of me basically being a real life version of Beyonce.)

I am 31 years old and about 31 pounds heavier (all pizza weight) than I want to be. I can’t ever see babies in the ultrasound pictures. In fact, I have spent my entire life ooooing and awwwwing over ultrasounds that look like black and white finger paintings.  So yeah, I’m already a frazzled mother.

I have been gluten-free and dairy-free for about 7 months, and it absolutely sucks. Don’t do it unless you have to, and don’t let some hot yoga instructor with a perfect topknot who has knit her own clothes out of, I don’t know, organic flaxseed, make you feel bad about loving Chili’s chips and queso. Chips and queso is LIFE.

I work at a church in Sterling Heights, Michigan, as their youth program director. I do graphic design, event planning, and I make my boss tea. I’m funny, love eating, and enjoy staying at home in sweats watching a football game as much as I enjoy going out.

So why am I single? The honest answer is that I don’t even know.

I would hands down, one million percent date me. I think the spiritual answer would be because God hasn’t brought me the right person yet, but I don’t even know if that’s the reason. You see, I could be in a relationship if I wanted to be. If it’s what I really, truly desired, I could find a man who would be enough for the moment. I could find temporary happiness and stretch it out as long as possible. And that’s what so many of us do.

We fill our moments instead of filling our lives.

We meet wants instead of meeting needs. And when those moments pass and our wants change, we find ourselves in a how-did-I-get-here scenario where we have come to love someone who is absolutely wrong for us, has a goatee and wears sunglasses indoors on your dates while you run o to the bathroom and find yourself texting your bff with a panicked, HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? Well, that’s an easy one: you made it happen.

Awhile back, I made a decision to break that cycle.

When you started reading this article (assuming you’re still reading), you saw a list of things that I was too much of. This isn’t a made up list, guys. These are actual things that people, friends, family, strangers, ex-boyfriend’s parents, Arabic women at grocery stores, and pastors have told me that I am. These are the reasons, according to them, that I am single.

It’s super funny to me, as these are really great qualities. Like I said, they’re some of the greatest compliments that I’ve ever received. The qualities listed are ones that I would love my daughters to possess. They are qualities that are praised in the media and social situations. They are attributes that are showcased by celebrities, politicians, authors, musicians, activists, speakers, and actors.

We are told to celebrate these things about ourselves…except when we’re trying to get a man.

I remember a few years back a guy friend telling me that if I wanted to get and keep a man, I should stop wearing red lipstick. He claimed it was intimidating and would make a man second-guess wanting to kiss me.

Okay ummmm, first of all, this tube of lipstick cost $40 at Sephora, so I would second-guess if I wanted him to kiss me. My lips currently cost the same as a tank of gas, so do I really want to subject them to being kissed by a man that has to think about it? Let me check my budget.

Secondly, how dare you? If there is one thing that I am absolutely sure of, it’s that I have beautiful, luscious lips. They’re incredible. They’re full and perfect. You will not take away their one purpose in life: to wear lipstick. So you can take your unsure lips and put them on somebody else’s lip-smackers-chapsticked lips, thankyouverymuch.

Thirdly, I am glam, I’m always going to be glam, and I literally wake up like this. I won’t ever apologize for that. I like getting girly. I like putting fancy stuff on and like corresponding my lipsticks with my outfit because that’s me! Why would I change my personality to make sure that a guy wants to kiss me? Homeboy can go kiss someone else with not as gorgeous lips.  Trust me when I say, we (my lips and I) do not want to be kissing anyone that isn’t fully wanting to kiss us.

So as ridiculous as that was, it’s an incredibly common thing that single people face. We are subject to a million ways to edit ourselves to snag a husband or wife. Why?

Why do we put these limitations on people?  Why do we tell people to completely alter who they are to get a boyfriend or girlfriend? Do we realize the mixed messages that we are sending? Do we realize the lasting damage that this can cause?

Why am I praised for being intelligent, but not praised if I am more intelligent than my partner? Why am I applauded for being confident, but am told to tone it down in order to let a man know that I need him in order to get a husband? Why am I looked upon as a role model for my healthy body image, but told that guys like a certain body shape, and I should work harder to fit it?

Why am I celebrated for being successful in my field, but made to feel guilty if I make more money than a man? And the most confusing one of all, why do we tell men and women to create lists of what they want in a mate, to be picky, particular, and selective in whom they choose, but then once they hit 25ish, tell them that they are being unrealistic and silly. In one moment, we praise them for their dating standards. In the next, we tell them that they’re too picky.

Do we see the double standard that we are selling to singles everywhere? Do we recognize our guilt in this process? Are we able to admit our role in the epidemic of toxic, never-should-have-happened relationships? Do we realize the amount of confused, insecure single people walking around that have absolutely no idea who they’re supposed to be?

We take a big part of the blame for this. A huge part, actually. Every day, we tell people to be extraordinary, but then encourage them to be ordinary in relationships. We tell them to be assertive and motivated at work, but discourage them from pushing too hard at home. We teach them how to be a good decision maker in their everyday lives, but inform them that the best thing to do is to go with the flow in the relationships.

I understand compromise, and I understand that not everything is about me and what I want in relationships, but what I don’t understand is why I am prompted to lose myself to ensure happiness. Can’t I have both? Can’t I be happy while being who God made me to be?

As women, it especially seems that we are shoved into this idea of becoming less for the man. Instead of finding a man who can handle us, we make ourselves emotionally and mentally easy so that he doesn’t have to over exert ourselves. We become insecure when a man can’t handle our beautiful, strong, incredible qualities and try to dumb ourselves down so that he feels better. Have we ever stopped to consider that the problem doesn’t lie in your strength, but in his lack of strength? Or even worse, that we are creating a generation of delusional, weak men?

For me, the biggest thing that I would change in the culture of singleness is the pressure that is felt.

I would eliminate the question of Are you dating anybody? from the common conversation. I would replace it with questions like, “What’s something that you’ve recently done that you’re proud of? What have you accomplished at work? What is something that you’re looking forward to?”

When we lead with questions about people’s status and not questions about their soul, we send them a message about what is important.

I have said this a million times, and I will say it a million more times until everybody hears it and understands it: I don’t want to be someone’s second choice. I don’t want someone to change their list to make me fit on it. I don’t want him to shove my metaphorical foot into Cinderella’s slipper, forcing it to fit, when it wasn’t ever supposed to be mine.

In the same way, I don’t want to get rid of things that I will love about my husband to fit into what I think is good right now. I don’t want to sell him short. It’s not fair to him. It’s not fair to me. And it’s not fair to the people who could truly be happy with us.

We need to change our emphasis. We need to change our focus. I want to get married. Deeply. Truly. Absolutely. But if I don’t get married, I won’t die.

I won’t Anne-of-Green-Gables it in the depths of despair. I won’t be an incomplete and lost women without value. I’ll be Leah fricken Barterian. I’ll be exactly who I am right now, who I’m supposed to be. I’ll be planning my next vacation and kicking butt at work. I’ll be laughing with my friends and Netflix binging. I’ll be eating pizza and endlessly loving those around me. And you know what else I’ll be?

Smart. Confident. Particular. Pretty. Curvy. Glamorous. Sure of myself. Funny. Focused. Ambitious. Successful. Inspired.

This piece was originally found on a wonderful friend, Jory’s, insightful and challenging blog. You can find the article here. And while you’re there, check out a few of the amazing things that she’s written as well!

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