Tonight I had a late lunch with an ex boyfriend of mine. This is normal for us as we are still very good friends. We often talk about our love lives, business and current hot topics. I couldn’t help but mention how obsessed I am with Beyonce’s new album and he just laughed. He asked me what my favorite song on the album was and I told him “Pretty Hurts” because of the powerful message it sends about the struggle to be “socially beautiful” within today’s society. He just looked at me with a blank face and ordered our meal.
We went on to talk about politics and financial responsibility when I shared my excitement about officially filing the papers for my 501c3. He asked me to explain to him my plan for my foundation and I basically summed it up as a youth and community engagement service centered around personal, academic and cultural development. He just looked at me and said that I need to concentrate on being more of a girl. “Just be a girl” he said. I didn’t comprehend what he was saying until later on in our conversation when he asked me if I had plans for my upcoming birthday. I smiling to no end while telling him that I will be releasing another book of poetry. He sat his glass down and just looked at me again. He then asked me if I bring this type of stuff up when I’m on a date. I said yes and he just moved his head from side to side. He told me again to “just be a girl.”
I couldn’t help but think of the song “Flawless” on Beyonce’s new album and how it showcases the following words spoken by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche:
“We teach girls to shrink themselves
To make themselves smaller
We say to girls
“You can have ambition
But not too much
You should aim to be successful
But not too successful
Otherwise you will threaten the man”
Because I am female
I am expected to aspire to marriage
I am expected to make my life choices
Always keeping in mind that
Marriage is the most important
Now marriage can be a source of
Joy and love and mutual support
But why do we teach to girls to aspire to marriage
And we don’t teach boys the same?
We raise girls to see each other as competitors
Not for jobs or for accomplishments
Which I think can be a good thing
But for the attention of men
We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings
In the way that boys are
Feminist: the person who believes in the social
Political, and economic equality of the sexes”
The words echoed through my head as I began to recap every relationship I have ever been in and the real reason why it didn’t work out. I have a desire to be with a man that challenges me to do great things every day. I honestly want to be with someone that not only dreams big but follows those dream up with action. Maybe that is why I haven’t been as satisfied as I would like to be with the men I date. Am I going about things the wrong way by putting my ambition out on the table as a way to intimidate a man seeking my interest? Have I been too strong of a female and in turn my honesty makes a man question himself?
I have always been one to set goals and follow up with them and people have always given me the side eye for that. I’m sure you’re reading this and questioning that, but it’s true. How many times have you had an idea or wanted to do something and that was the end of it? Lets say you’ve always been fascinated by people that played the piano and you wished you knew how; Most people would just wish they knew how to play but I asked all of my family members to donate so that I could take a few classes. That extra step is a leap of faith that most people lack.
The real question is not why people are annoyed by my constant attempts to act on the desires of my heart but how, why and if my ambition makes me less attractive to men. Should I not share the different projects I am working on due to a fear of a guys reaction? SHould I just be a girl and concentrate on the basics and aspire to marriage as my only life goal? Beyonces words “Are you happy with yourself?’ ring in my head as I wonder why such a struggle exists. In a world where women have been granted such new liberty/freedom- we are engulfed by gender roles that challenge our ability to take advantage of opportunities.