I came across a post with the question, "Sis, would you shoot your shot?" on The Shaderoom's Instagram page a few weeks ago and was surprised that most of the responses were women refusing to step to men they were interested in.
One comment even included the Bible verse, "HE who FINDS a wife finds a good thing." Admittedly, I can understand how difficult dating might be since the last time I was in the game was over ten years ago. Still, it baffled me that in a world of left and right swiping dating apps, Plenty of Fish, Nev and Max saving love lives on MTV's Catfish, and everything else that has attempted to make meeting the person of your dreams an easier process, some women are still butthurt about not yet landing their soulmate. However, instead of getting in the game, they're benching themselves. It's true:
You lose all the games you never play.
As someone who ended up marrying the last man I shot my shot at, I can attest to the fact that sometimes finding happiness and love is a matter of opening your mouth and making moves to make it happen. When I first met my husband (before I even entertained him being the man I may marry one day), I swear to you that man moved in slow motion, like we were in a nineties romcom like Boomerang or Mo' Money. When I was in my early twenties, I was hanging out one night with a friend from high school doing hood rat things like driving around the city just because we could and getting banana milkshakes from Checkers at 3 AM. At one point of the evening, my friend beeped at and flagged down an old school emerald green Chevy mustang with dark tinted windows. Both cars pulled over and from the Mustang stepped out his former classmate, now known as my husband.
All I saw was a white tank top clinging to his abs and the girl he was riding with at the time step out of the passenger side in some distressed booty shorts that humid July night. I remembered her outfit since apparently, she got out for no real damn reason other than to be seen because she didn't even engage in conversation with my friend. However, my attention was quickly back on Future Hubby because he was sexy as hell, but I definitely remember thinking at the time, 'there's no way he has any swag whatsoever because he's friends with THIS dude.' Don't get me wrong, my friend was cool but there was a reason he had Monopoly hotels in the friend zone for the past six or so years.
Fast forward to months later and we all began regularly hanging out (minus homegirl in the booty shorts who I later learned was just "some girl" he was messing with). We enjoyed exchanging dark jokes, watching and reciting famous lines from cult classics like Menace to Society and Set It Off and before I knew it, I got to know best friend better. Then one day, it hit me like a ton of bricks, "Damn, I think I'm feeling this dude."
At first, it was purely physical attraction as he tried to respect the insinuated boundaries our mutual friend we nicknamed "Friend-Zoned" put forth, hoping one day I'd lose my damn mind and realize the one meant for me was right by my side all along. (Spoiler alert: That clearly wasn't the case and the one for me kept getting tickets for those damn tinted windows damn near up to the day we got engaged). It was on me to make the first move and one day, I popped up at his door without "Friend-Zoned" to make my intentions clear to which he responded he felt the same way, and you already know how that story ended. However, 'till this day I can't confidently say I would've ended up with my husband had I not made a decision to shoot my shot and see where things went. For all we know, he could've been married to "Booty Shorts" by now if I didn't speak up.
Part of me has control and patience issues. I am a firm believer in creating opportunities when it comes to both my professional life and personal life. And sometimes to a fault, I apply the concept that if a door doesn't open for you, you swing in like Miley Cyrus with the help of a wrecking ball and give yourself a garage. At times, my impulsiveness and need for control has led to rash decisions but most of the time, fortune favors my bold moves. When it comes to love and relationships, I often apply the same mindset: The worse answer I could get is a "No." But life is short and a part of risk-taking is rejection, and I've survived worse things than rejection. Unfortunately, I'm noticing a trend where women will avoid saying, "Good morning" to a man they're interested in rather than risk rejection. The thing is, in my experience, most men are not going to shut you down disrespectfully on some, "Naw, I'm good because your shoes are garbage and box braids are my thing."
If a man parts his lips to tell you some nonsense like this, he probably wasn't worth your effort in the first place. I've been literally shooting my shot since high school and while dudes from grade school homeroom carelessly shut down girls they weren't interested in because they cared about getting a laugh from their friends more, most grown men will at least take your efforts with flattery and respond with good old-fashioned manners. Listen, a man's response to your efforts should always be positive, even if they don't return those same feelings and don't always take that personal either. Something else to consider: Not every man out there has the charm of Drake, the class of John Legend, and the swag of Idris Elba.
The only reason many men are so comfortable shooting their shot is because they've been socialized to take rejection and keep it pushing.
Think of all the men who have sent you drinks only to realize you've snuck out the backdoor, or all the dudes who went to text you only to receive a prompt reply from Domino's Pizza. If all men allowed rejection to stop them dead in their tracks, none of us would probably be linking up. If lack of confidence is holding you back from asking that brother with the light eyes and dreads from your Sociology class to lunch, or keeping you from sliding in Jay Ellis's DMs, remember this:
Confidence is not about always about making your shot but knowing you're still the ish even when you miss.
Something else I realized while reading responses to this post was how much dating lacks communication these days. I literally read responses that said, "If I like three of your pics in a row, we go together." With all of the direct messaging, tagging, and video chats that may actually lead up to seeing each other in person, some things are clearly getting lost in translation.
I understand being reserved and even introverted, but we can't possibly have come this far as women and liberated sexual creatures, and still be waiting in a tower for a prince to ride in on a white horse and shoot his shot. I'm all for prayer, having faith, and trusting the process but I also think the pursuit of happiness applies to listening to your heart (and sometimes other bodily organs as well), taking a leap, and going after the things you want.
The thing about shooting your shot is that the more you do it, the easier it becomes, whether you're landing baskets from half court or watching air balls fall before your eyes. And as a last very cliched reminder, having the courage and confidence to take bold shots both on and off the court can sometimes land you a ring, at least in my case it did.
Don't be afraid or too arrogant to get your head in the game, because if you're lucky your #MCM's heart may just follow.
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
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Feature image by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Religion of Sports