Lessons in life tend to have the nasty little habit of tiptoeing up to you and gut punching you out of nowhere. I liken it to a bit of a realization brick aimed straight for your noggin, (…to put it gently, of course). I’ve recently had the pleasure of testing out that hypothesis of mine, and spoiler alert: I was totally right.
I wasn’t looking for a lesson on society that fateful Monday. But that Monday I got one anyway, and it came in the form of a conversation with my seven-year-old niece a few months ago that really got me thinking…And not in the way I was happy about.
That Monday, I came down from school, my niece and my dad waiting for me by the car. She was bouncing up and down, in her little first grader way, smiling ear to ear. She proudly displayed to me her newest artistic endeavor of a rocket ship hurdling through space. “You can have it, Hannie! Do you want it?”
“I would LOVE it! It’s beautiful…” I smiled at her and got into the car, being sure to dote on it even more, in my typical proud-aunt nature.
While driving down the road, we fell into our normal discussions. You know, how our days were, what new things she was learning at school… when, all of the sudden she proceeds to tell me about the newest developments in first grader gossip- a little boy in her class liked her! I giggled and made sure to remind her she was far too young to have a boyfriend. Wait until you’re older!
“Like when I’m sixteen?” She asked, inquisitively.
“How old are you, again, Hannie?”
I inwardly cringed, knowing exactly where this conversation was heading. “I’m 18.”
“Well, then why don’t YOU have a boyfriend? You’re 18, you should have one.”
“You have to wait for the right person,” I replied to her. “I haven’t found the right person yet.”
“Well, why don’t you? You’re 18.”
This persistent question, after all was said and answered, struck me the wrong way. This is a seven-year-old little girl that seemed absolutely bamboozled, not even being able to grasp why someone wouldn’t have a boyfriend at any given time. We kept talking and it seemed she could not fathom the idea of being older and not having a boyfriend.
As the conversation progressed, it seemed this little seven-year-old had already bought into the dreaded lie that many of us women tend to fall into: That we *gasp* need a guy in order to make us happy or complete. If you don’t see that as a societal issue, then it’s okay. We’ll work on that.
By my niece asking this seemingly innocent (yet quite intrusive) question, it revealed something very alarming. A worldview forming already, filled to the brim with all-too-serious implications.
If these young girls continue to believe what society, and perhaps the people around them are teaching them, this will not bode well. The belief that we are not anybody unless we have somebody is a destructive lie being circulated around the populace. A majority of growing up and becoming comfortable with who we are as a person comes from times where we are single. In all honesty, in order to have a healthy steady relationship later on, we must know ourselves and be independent in who we are.
I want to challenge head-on this belief of always needing somebody.
I believe instead of indoctrinating girls that the end-all in life is to settle for quantity of guys and not for quality, we need to tell girls to wait for someone that is worth their time. Knowing yourself and your value is the only way a relationship will really work in the end.
Your sole focus should be on being a somebody, not on being somebody’s. (That’s how the quote goes, right)? I love it.
Many times we love to blame society as a whole, instead of recognizing society is made up of us- everyday people. This means we must make a stand and do whatever we can do to help girls around us, and better ourselves, with the right beliefs.
All those who consist within society (news flash: that’s everyone) need to take a good look at the consequences of what we teach to our youth. Now, I’m only 18, but it’s taken years to realize some of these things for myself, realizing I can be completely content at whatever phase in life.
If we pressure girls to simply be in a relationship for the sole sake of being in a relationship, then we are more often than not pressuring them to settle for people who do not treat them right, and do not care for the greater good of them as individuals.
OR, on the other hand, it pressures girls that every friendship with a guy needs to be, or become, something more.
Not so. I’m a firm believer you need some brothers to have your back. No matter who makes fun of you for it…because, believe it or not, people can be pretty cruel about that, too.
So, how do we teach girls to be somebodies? Or better yet, how do we re-teach ourselves, after years of continually finding our value in a relationship status (or lack thereof)?
Well, first off…
We are responsible for our own happiness
Yes, you will find your person that you instantly just click with! BUT- at the end of the day- YOU alone are the person that can make or break you. YOU are responsible for your happy. Do not base it off of anything or anyone you can lose. And do not base your happiness off of whether you are in a relationship or not. That will only lead to disappointment.
Know Your Worth
If nobody has ever told you before, you have value. And our value has nothing to do with how great we are at things, or how pretty we are, or the fact that we can juggle ten oranges at one time. (Good thing, because I can’t even juggle a schedule).
Our worth is completely independent from us. So, what does that mean? It means we have worth because we are humans, beautifully and wonderfully made. That’s apart from anything foolish you’ve ever done, or said, or thought. It’s easy to say that…but to act it and remind ourselves that?
Hm. That’s when things get tricky.
You are your own person
You may think this one is a no-brainer, but a lot rides on the full understanding of this belief.
We are individuals responsible for our own happiness, growth, and feelings of being fulfilled in life. If you are looking to find your identity in someone else, that’s not going to do you well. (Oops, I spilled the beans). Yes, our significant others should be people we feel happy around, and that encourage us to be better than we were yesterday. BUT- there is a distinct difference of finding someone that make you happy, and finding your happiness in people.
If we look for a relationship like this, what happens when the hard times come? We run away…because aren’t relationships supposed to be sunshine and roses? Nope. The ones worth it, are the ones worth fighting for.
Before getting to know anyone else, you should know YOURSELF
Before going into a relationship, we should always have a firm grasp on who we are, our values, our beliefs, our intentions…all of it. If you don’t have a good grasp on any of these things, you’re more than likely walking into a relationship blind as a bat.
Remember what I said about earlier- the whole pressure from outside sources thing? Well, guess what. IT’S A HUGE DEAL. So, don’t let yourself get pushed around into going along with something for the sake of obligation, or pressure. You’re in charge of your own life, dear. Remember, never go along with something just out of the feeling that you “need a boyfriend”.
Patience is key. And hey- guess what! I’m learning this, too! College is coming up, and I’m going to have to take my own advice. So, you’re not alone if you’re reteaching yourself that you’re a somebody without a somebody.
Quality over quantity.
I hope this post got you thinking and that we can spread this message to all you beautiful souls! (Hey, guess what, fellas)? Honestly, this message that I just said…not gender specific. I recommend it to all humans! Just felt that it was on my heart to write this.
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