"I think that more girls should be open to making the first move when it comes to guys. If you want something you should go for it. We are all too scared of rejection, but the worst thing that can happen is he says no. Just dust your shoulders off, and move on to the next one"
–Leila Ndebi (A HYPOCRITE)
This is the advice that I gave a room full of powerful young black women last week. As we sat in a circle looking to each other for guidance and words of wisdom, I sat there and I uttered words that I myself couldn’t do. Words that I wish I lived by, words that I know if I followed would lead me to a happier, more carefree life. But I can’t. I’m a hypocrite. A big ol’ hypocrite.
For years now I have taken male rejection as a direct representation of me. I’ve made it personal and even let it affect me to a point of low self-esteem and insecurity. Why not me? What’s wrong with me? Questions like this have kept me up at night, brought me to my lowest of lows. If I approached a man and didn’t get the response that I wanted or thought that I deserved, I let it break me. And it wasn’t just a “oh, dang”, it was tears at night, standing in the mirror over examining every single part of my body trying to figure out what it is he didn’t like. Was it my big ass nose? Maybe I’m just too tall? I’m not pretty enough…
This isn’t just something that happens overnight. You don’t just wake up one morning and decide that you’re not going to love yourself unless a man tells you that you should. This took practice, time, and patience. As early as I can remember I have always feared the gazes of others. Not just men, but everyone. I hated it when people looked at me, because in my head they weren’t looking at me because I was beautiful but because they could see every single flaw that I tried so desperately to hide. When I walked in crowds I kept my head down, slouched because I thought that it would make me less noticeable. I spent all the time that I didn’t absolutely need to be outside, in my room, hiding. And when I did go out, I walked around with headphones in, blasting music so I didn’t hear the rude comments that I thought they were saying, making myself unapproachable because I didn’t want anyone to see me.
Growing up I was always the tall skinny girl. I stuck out like a sore thumb and I HATED IT. All I wanted to do was fit in, and no matter how hard I tried it never happened. I went to a predominantly white high school where white guys were too scared to talk to the black girls that they found attractive and black guys just dated white girls. The majority of rude comments that black women would receive always came from the men, especially the black men. It never really made any sense to me. You’re one of us, why are you tearing me down so that your white peers will think you’re cool? Why don’t you stick up for me when someone says something racist? From those experiences I just decided to avoid men at all costs. If I walked through a crowd of men I instantly put my head down, in fear of catching some sort of insult or catcall. I never showed any interest or attention to black men, because in my experience they’d always been the meanest.
Yes, I am a hypocrite but I think that we all are. Yes, we all tell ourselves that we don’t care what the other sex thinks or what they like, but the truth is we all desire to be desired. And there’s nothing wrong with that… to an extent. Everyone craves attention from the person that they are interested in, everyone wants to be loved. But it crosses the line to an unhealthy habit when we start to let the validation of that person affect who we are as a person, and how we feel about and see ourselves. NOBODY should ever have the power to make me feel like I am nothing. NOBODY should ever have me standing in the mirror questioning what’s wrong with me. NOBODY should ever have me crying in my bed at 2am to John Mayer.
So it’s time to take my own advice. It’s time to learn that rejection from a man doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with me. And just because he doesn’t like something about me doesn’t mean that someone else won’t like it. It’s time for me to shoot my shot, like I’m Steph Curry even if my free throw percentage resembles that of Andre Roberson. It’s time for me to stop valuing men’s voices and also other people’s voices over my own. Because I know that I am so beautiful in my own way, and I have so much to offer and whoever can’t see that is huge fool.
So if he says no, just dust your shoulders off and move on to the next one!