Writer, sexual health superhero, and #BlackGirlMagic and #BlackBoy curator regularly featured on @Madamenoire. Toya can usually be found in between her earbuds, listening to trap music and refreshing her browser for concert tickets. Tweet her @thetruetsharee.
The last thing I expected last Tuesday was to be leaving my office in a stretcher begging paramedics to help me make it home to my daughter, but thankfully I walked away from the situation with my life and a loud and clear lesson that balance is the best defense against work burnout.
A few months ago, I had a breakthrough. After a promotion led to me having a completely different supervisor, what was once a five-year plan to transition out of the organization I was working at, turned into five-month plan. It's a scary point in my life that I haven't found myself at before: I'm not leaving a job because I want better pay or a higher position, I want to leave simply because I'm unhappy.
This past summer, a Jewish couple moved in next door. The first few weeks, my husband and I would see them in passing as we carried groceries or our napping three-year-old into the house. They'd be sitting on their front porch watching their three young boys rough house on the lawn, each with a yarmulke securely fastened to his head.
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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