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It's OK To Be Single

Dating

A friend of mine recently sent an article with the title "What People Don't Tell You About Freezing Your Eggs". After three long blinks and mentally slamming my head into my keyboard at work, I asked myself, "Should I be thinking about this?"


The thoughts and emotions that flooded in all before I even clicked open the link reminded me that there are millions of anxious women having feelings just like this. Feeling as though the dream of a loving marriage and family could end up being just...a dream. This fear of never finding true love, or having the kids they've always wanted is very real for many women. As I thought more intently about this fear that I didn't necessarily share, I recognized that it isn't purely natural, but there are outside influences that make singleness, for women in particular, dreadful.

American society plays a major role in how us gals view our unwedded lives.

There are thousands of movies on love and romance, finding that special someone, or being "lucky" enough for them to find you. The strong emphasis on being "chosen" makes it oddly taboo to discuss being single, as a woman, especially to do so fondly. It's a topic that isn't as welcomed in girl chats as it is in guy groups, and because this status isn't affirmed as much in women, ladies everywhere are urged to feel the way popular culture tells us to feel about it: miserable. It is often this urge that causes women to remain in relationships much longer than they should, or to rush from relationship to relationship without much or any time for reflection and healing in between.

Then there are those that are actually in relationships, married, or with child. Perhaps without even trying, many of them use language that elevates those titles over others. How many captions have you read from a new wife or mom that go something like, "I'm finally complete" or "Now I know what true love is" or 'Motherhood gave me purpose"? And it's not just women who do this. I've seen some damaging statements from men also, that are along the lines of, "You become a man when you become a father." How might that man or woman with reproductive issues feel when reading these?

If he's never been able to help produce a child, or if she's just had her 9th miscarriage, is he or she any less of a man or woman? Of course not.

There's also this stigma that if you're of a certain age and single, that something must be wrong with you.

I've heard so many conversations over the years where a woman who seemingly has a lot to offer is picked apart once it's known that she's single. Comments like, "She must be crazy," or "I wonder what she does to run men off" are prevalent in these discussions. What a flawed, but common way of thinking. In case anyone reading this doesn't know, there are women out here that are literally choosing. Women who could jump the broom at the snap of their fingers but would rather wait until she finds the one her very soul adores, or focus on her own wholeness, instead of rushing to keep up with the world's timeline. Go figure.

Related: Single Or Taken: The Battle Of The Relationship Status Is Tearing Us Apart

I have a somewhat unique perspective, having been on both sides of this pendulum. I've been engaged before, and have experienced "wedding culture" with nearly everyone around me treating this experience like it's the best one that will ever happen to me, when in actuality, ending that particular engagement was! Since being on the other side, I've found and am still finding, such freedom and joy in truly discovering me, my interests, my goals, my heart's deepest desires, without the influence of another person.

It saddens me to hear women discuss their singleness like it's a curse or a punishment - it is neither. If treated well, it is an incredible time of self-discovery and refinement.

I asked my mother a couple years ago, what was the hardest part of marriage to her, and her response has stuck with me ever since. "I didn't realize how much 'me-time' I'd have to give up," she said. "Once I got married, all the time outside of work was shared with your father in some way. Even if I did things by myself, like going to the grocery store, it'd still have something to do with him because now I have to think about what he wants in there. Then the kids came, and I completely forgot what 'me-time' was."

Now, my parents have been happily married for 38 years (TODAY actually), so it's safe to say my mom wasn't lamenting, but just highlighting a very real point. In case I wasn't catching on, she ended with "Enjoy this time alone, 'cause once it's gone, it's truly gone." That advice didn't make me shun marriage, but it did give me a new appreciation for my singleness, knowing that this incredible time to be selfish is precious too.

I wish I could change the narrative of what singleness for women in particular should look and feel like.

It shouldn't be a sad, dreaded experience, but an invigorating and empowering one. It should be a time of growing and learning from the inside out. And it doesn't have to be riddled with any of the various "phases" that people suggest women should experience in their singleness. Along with wholeness, you can be completely liberated without the intimate company of another person.

Related: I Swore Off Dating For the Remainder of My 20s & Survived

It's a fairly common misconception that romantic relationships are the only ones that grow you. I'm thankful for the friends around me, male and female, who push me and make me a better human. Don't take those opportunities to be sharpened by platonic relationships for granted. You can learn compromise, patience, forgiveness, faithfulness, TRUE LOVE, and much more from ya own homies, and I'm learning more everyday. And if you plan to be in a relationship or married someday, it's a good idea to work on these qualities with your friends, your family, your coworkers etc., because they won't magically appear when you're boo'd up.

Society encourages women, in particular, to justify our significance based on marriage and children.

We've been influenced to feel that singleness is a lesser position, and our greatest hope should be that we're one day chosen by someone else. Call me a rebel, but I just can't surrender to that way of thinking about such a sweet time in life! We don't have to play by those rules. Romantic love is one of the MANY things, to be enjoyed in this life, and so is singleness.

Singleness should be treasured and spent well.

I LOVE love, and I deeply value marriage and family. But I desperately want women [people] to know they can and should be whole without either. Romantic love is a desire of my heart, but an even greater desire of mine is to have a life where if it never happens for me again, if I never birth children of my own, or any other of my many hopes, that I am happy, whole, and complete; trusting the God who knew my end from the beginning.

I strive for the apostle Paul's level of fulfillment in being content (satisfied) in whatever state I'm in (Phil.4:11), and I hope the same for you. And if we are not first whole ourselves, we'll never be the wives or mothers we were (possibly) meant to be anyway.

*Article originally published on Joya Smith

Featured image by Isaiah McClean on Unsplash

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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