One year ago today, I wrote a blog titled You’re Single And It’s Going To Be Okay. I typed it up late in the evening in my dorm room, my long legs cramped underneath a particle board desk that was obviously made for someone who wasn’t five foot ten. The whole spectacle—and yes it must have looked like a spectacle to my roommate—was precipitated by a conversation with a younger friend about the pressure she was feeling to meet and date someone at our college. It’s just really hard, she had said. After she said that, I knew it was time to share my viewpoint with my college community. Three years had passed, three years of singleness and a strange kind of silence on that singleness; it was time to break the quiet.
After I had finished writing, I hit the little blue button that said PUBLISH, posted a link to my social media accounts, and pried my legs out from underneath the desk and crawled into my bed. When I awoke in the morning, something had happened in the quiet of the night that I had not expected: the post was getting a lot of attention. By 9 AM, over 200 people had read the blog, and by that evening, the number rose to over 700. Friends and friends-of-friends were liking, commenting, and sharing the post. As the day went on, I began to think about the why, the how, the who—who was behind the likes, the comments, the views, about the person who decided to click? Why would so many people would care to read what I had to say? Who was behind the click?
I’m not sure who all clicked, but I know a lot of my single friends did, as well as the guy sitting next to me in my history class did (yeah, I saw you), some alums, friends who got married, and more. Why did they click? Maybe they were hopeful it was a controversial exposé (I disappointed them) or maybe because they actually wanted to hear my side of the story. Only they can answer why they clicked. I’m glad they did, because I didn’t just write the blog for the single, young women out there. I wrote it for the person in a happy relationship who needs to remember that their pathway to happiness isn’t the only way, and for the person in an unhappy one who needs a voice other than their legalistic parents forcing the concept of courtship like it’s the 11th commandment. I wrote it for the girl who has been told her personality was too strong to attract a man, and for the guy who has been pressured that he needs to change his career and hobbies in order to become “ideal husband material.” I wrote it for the mentors who view singles as less than, one half of a not-yet-formed couple, and the youth group leaders who need to stop saying that Jesus is their boyfriend.
While the blog focused on relationships and singleness, I think the spirit of its sentiments confront each and every one of us day in and day out. So often, we choose to focus on what we lack: I’m not funny enough, financially stable enough, strong enough, fit enough, skinny enough, pretty enough, handsome enough, charming enough, smart enough, normal enough. I need to: tone my personality down, get a pay raise, lift more, eat less, purchase that face cream, use that makeup, buy that store’s clothes, watch that TV show, read that book, rent that apartment AND THEN people will love me. People will accept me. People will date me. People will say I’m cool. People will want me. Trust me. Value me. I will have value.
Friends, that is bull shit. Plain and simple. I wrote that blog a year ago because I needed to stop believing the bull shit and be revived by the truth that there are no stipulations to my dignity or value as a person. I needed to remember that I do not need to live in fear, shame, doubt, and confusion because of my social, professional, economic, educational, or relational status and standing. I wrote the blog as a message of hope: not a hope that promised single girls out there that their husband will surely come (Newsflash 1: he might not and Newsflash 2: it’s going to be okay), but a hope that says: “Hey: I’m here. I know it’s hard. I know what the voices inside your head are saying. And I’m hear to tell you they are wrong.” Too often I think, we hide behind our insecurities, silence the doubts, all the while being consumed by worry that if we show our cards, people will run away, appalled at our humanness.
But an amazing thing happens when you get down in the dirt, when you publish a blog about a challenge you’ve worked through: you meet other people down there. That blog led to some great conversations with family, friends, and people I didn’t even know. It helped me become a more open person, and the spirit of sharing that began with that essay has changed the way I communicate with others. And as C.S. Lewis said “Friendship is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself.”
“What! You too?” is a phrase so many of us crave to hear, but often do not because one or both of people in a conversation have their guard up, their fists at the ready, their shields of self-preservation covering the parts of themselves they deem “unlovable.” But my friends, an amazing thing happens when we lower our shields, our guards, our fists: we open ourselves to deeper friendships, better conversations, accountability and encouragement. It’s powerful. It’s inspiring. It’s eye-opening. It’s humbling. It’s worth it.
So while some might be uncomfortable with my sharing or my honesty, or using a blog as a platform for “soul-searching,” I know that this process is how I find the truth. And I don’t want to stop.
So I guess I’ll keep writing, keep on typing the words on the page, keep on letting out the thoughts that are up there in this funny brain of mine, keep on letting y’all click. And at the end of the day, people might read what I’ve written out, and they’ll click again. But even if they don’t click or read what I have to say, or if they do and disagree, I know at least one person has been helped through it all. She’s a person that has clicked on the wrong thing before, read those stupid articles, rejected the truth, embraced the lies. I write for her. She says, “I’m alone,” but a voice pierces the night…“No, you’re not.”
| Honest by Joseph |