Hi there, and welcome to this week’s episode of Charlie’s Toolbox, the place to learn how to center yourself and decenter men. Today we are going to discuss a topic that has given me immeasurable peace and joy, and that is choosing yourself. Before I go into the topic, I’d like to chat about some things that have been going on in my world and the world around me. Before we begin, a reminder to follow me and get notifications when I post new episodes up. If you want to chat directly with me hit me up at @charliestoolbox on IG, Twitter, and tik-tok. So, let’s begin….
I’ve been off for a month and man do I love leisure time. There is nothing better than doing absolutely nothing, getting up when I want to, and doing something when I want to. My objective for these next quarters of my life is to find ways to make more time for leisure, be present, and continue working on my anxiety so I don’t have panic or dread while relaxing. I want to enjoy this next portion of my life with vigor!
I also want to focus on commitment and consistency. As you can see with this podcast, I have a hard time with consistency and committing to a task. It isn’t that I don’t want to commit, I just allow my emotions to dictate everything and that does not help me with my long-term goals and with my mission/vision. So, that is what will happen. I will commit to expanding my brand, message, and presence. There has been too much content out there that has harmed women, told them they weren’t enough, and that they should diminish themselves for others and I want to be a part of challenging that thought and eliminating it from our psyche. So, that is what I will do!
About the World
The other day I read a piece titled Confessions Of A Perpetually Single Woman By Morgan Parker. She wrote about her dating experience and how deflating it could be. A passage that caught my eye was at the beginning of the piece she states,
“one thing about being unhappily single in your thirties—besides the very real biological and social pressure to reproduce—is everybody thinks there must be a reason why. A reason that you must be somewhat content with or aware of, if you’re taking no steps to improve your situation. As long as a person is unhappily single, there must be something wrong. You must need help.”
and it made me explore some questions I had while reading this piece. The first question was…
Why do we equate being single as a personal failure?
Why is this type of vulnerability the only thing Black Women discuss when talking about dating/being single?
Why am I uncomfortable with someone being unhappily single?
When we equate being single as a personal failure, we overlook a lot of facts. The biggest fact is that there are people with problems who are in relationships or are constantly partnered. We’ve heard and met the narcissist, the abuser, the jealous type, the love bomber, or the partner who requires you to dim your light in order for them to exist, and we’ve seen them in partnerships-sometimes lifelong partnerships. Yet, we still hold onto the thought that they have something special that we do not have. They have something likable that causes their partners to overlook their chaos, drama, or mental health issues to choose them and that is not true. Love and romance are often a thing of luck and willingness. Of course, there are structures in society that make some of us luckier than others, but for the most part, it is luck and a willingness to commit. That is often all it is, so quit telling yourself you aren’t feminine enough, submissive enough, or pleasant enough? Of course, we can improve, and reach goals like having a larger network, career opportunities, and things that are actually beneficial to our lives? But completely changing your essence, masking, o creating a façade for a partner is an option that is unnecessary, and harmful, and if you truly analyze partnered people you will see that they have huge problems and are yet partnered.
When I think about Black Women and public vulnerability, it always revolves around dating and being single. It is always framed as a personal failure, a lack of desirability, woo is me, and sometimes they discuss the lack of qualified candidates. I get the analysis, structural and individual, but I don’t like this type of public vulnerability and for some reason, It seems to be the only space Black Women can own or are approached about.
Of course, I was indoctrinated to seek out romantic relationships, but I was not taught that being single was a personal problem or failure. Being single did not mean anything to me. It indicated nothing about me. It was a state of being. It could be joyful. It could bring peace. It could bring great sex and fun dates. It could also bring sadness and melancholy. It could allow you the true freedom to do what you truly wanted, but perpetually unhappy it was not- which is why I struggle with compassion and empathy for those who see singledom as a punishment, painful, sad, and unfulfilling. It’s also why I hate articles of public vulnerability like this because singleness is not a prison!
I don’t know if my feelings on this are something I should work on or not, but I get annoyed with the woes of unhappily single women. Their cries are far more heard than we like to believe or accept. We know those stories more than we know the stories of those who are happily single. There are books for them, movies for them, columns for them, they get support groups, youtube videos, Twitter threads, and tik tok videos to soothe the cries of women who are unhappily single. No one communes more than the unhappily single people. I don’t want to read this anymore, I want the next step. The vulnerability of a woman who decided to live on her own accord. What does she have to say once she takes off the brave masks, and talks about the ups and downs? Or times she wishes there was more support for her decision. Where is she at? Who is approaching her for a story? Where are her movie, column, and tik-tok video? When I see women allowing their singleness to debilitate them, It feels like a loss to our world, and I mourn and roll my eyes because you’ve been given a life that is incredibly short, all things considered, and you are painting all of your experiences as empty because you haven’t experienced love yet.
Song of the week
So, let’s get into the song of the week. To get me in the mood to create this podcast episode, I’ve been listening to some old Nigerian music. This one song I love so much! Happy Survival by Eddie Okwedy. I was writing and bopping to this song the whole time and, I won’t lie I don’t know all of what he is saying..lolol but I know he got something to say! So, give it a listen and let me know what you think. By the way, when it comes to my music taste it is all over the place. One week you may get ragging music and the other day you may get some bossa nova. I just like to curate my mood with music and I use all genres for inspiration.
The Topic of the Week
So, let’s get into the main topic of Choosing Yourself. Which, now that I think of it, it may be in response to the chronically unhappily single article that we just discussed. I think choosing yourself has to be seen from a different light, even when it is not your choice. You want love, and that is ok, but are you going to be floating on until love chooses you back?? Is your life while single in black and white until romantic love makes your life colorful? That is what we must discuss- women disconnect from life until they receive love.
Choosing you is not a prison or punishment. Choosing you can be a revolutionary act that the women in your family wished they had, but could not have due to our societal structures. For example, growing up, I had the opportunity to bond with my grandmothers. We’d sit or lay down and talk for hours. I’d ask them questions about themselves and their lives and they’d tell me about their youth. We’d look back and realize how restrictive their life was because their parents weren’t educated, or they parented from a survival framework. They also lived in a society that treated black people and women as second-class citizens. So, they were forced to choose others for safety, support, finances, parents’ approval, and society's approval. There was no choice in these decisions. So, when they see me, they see the opportunities they weren’t given. They see the ease. I have. They see the freedom I have to do exactly what I want with no children needing food and a home. They see me choosing what I want to do without consulting a partner. Or going after my heart’s desires. Or taking care of myself with my own money and in a job, I like. So much of this modern world was at one time a privilege for our grandmothers and great-grandmothers. So, I don’t get the need or want to use all of these freedoms to just be sad and deflated. Look at all the choices you have!
Choosing you can also be a personal choice that is brave. The bravery is because everything in our society tells and shows you that you are not worthy unless you are partnered or in service to others. So, when you choose not to be a maid, care-taker, therapist, sex object, or audience member people do not know where to place you. So, instead of understanding, that you are a human being with your own wants and needs, they interpret you as a person with deep flaws and that is why you haven’t been chosen as a maid, care-taker, therapist etc. When you are interpreted as that, you have to be brave. You have to stand firm, and that doesn’t always mean you have to defend yourself or your choices. Sometimes it is smiling in someone’s face and walking away when they tell you that you are the problem. It means hearing people tell you what you should do to get a man, and ignoring it. It means that you have to decide against just enough or decide to not fall into mediocrity. That is the personal choice you have to make. It will be annoying having to choose this or stand in it when someone is persecuting your choice, but it is what you have to do.
Finally, you must choose yourself even when you don’t want to be single. Sometimes we are circumstantially single. Meaning we broke up with someone because of deep flaws or someone broke up with us. When you are circumstantially single, choosing yourself is extremely important because this is the time when you often detach from life. This is the time when you are yearning to choose others, to give them your power instead of mourn properly. To not live because why bother this person isn’t in your life. To seek joy, when you are angry about being perpetually single, in a situationship, or recently broken up. Of course, you can mourn, but choose to live again. Choose to get up and ask yourself, what do I want to do today? Ask yourself do I need energy from my friends? Nature? Work? Hobby? What do you need to feel good? Oh, you don’t know, try everything and find out. You have the time!
For me, choosing myself is a little bit political and personal. I choose myself because of my grannies. To make them proud that I am using this freedom as much as I can. I also choose myself because it feels better than choosing others. When I tried to choose others, I suffered immensely. I would cry, be depressed, and be angry because I was misunderstood, used, ignored, and diminished. when I chose myself!!! It was so freeing, I felt light, I laughed more than I could count, I cried tears of joy, experienced the moment, was compassionate, gave love, and was loved. I choose me because it feels good and I use all of the freedoms the women in my family couldn’t. Think about all of the reasons you should choose yourself and remind yourself of it every time you decide to choose something mediocre or not-beneficial to you.
My last thought on choosing yourself is this…Being by yourself is not a precursor to happiness. It isn’t being single, sad, and alone, and then once you get chosen or choose others it’s happiness and partnership. Those choices aren’t the only options. Furthermore, delaying your life for men who from the stories we read and hear aren’t the most prosperous choice is a risk I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Singleness and even solitude are valid happiness. Women aren’t lying when they say they are happy when single and stop interrogating them and acting as though they are not.