A young woman meets a guy. The man and woman date and fall in love. While in this process, her guy tells her a story of his dream. He believes it, and so does she. She’s already imagined the marriage, despite not having evidence. What’s one more dream? So, she helps him obtain his dream. She spends her money on him. She proposes ideas to him. She guides him to different classes. Yet, he does not flourish. They break up and all of the work she’s done for him leaves with him. A year later she sees him and his dream is being fulfilled but someone else is on his arm. The what-ifs ensue. The melancholy ensues. She thinks about the time, money, and emotional energy she's used to helping grow someone else and is disappointed in herself. Why did she pour into him like that? We’ve all heard these stories before. We’ve seen these stories play out. Kanye West andex-fiancéé Alexis Phifer. Fictional character’s Issa and Lawrence. Jesse Williams and his first wife Aryn Drake-Lee left her career in New York for his career in California. Tom Brady and Kathryn Bridget Moynahan.
Patriarchy has imbued us with the idea of the potential. It tells us to hook ourselves to men because there is nothing else to work towards. It tells us that the cute, charming, and educated guy is worth the investment because all men are worth the investment-at least that is what the romantic stories tell us i.e. Aladdin, Little Mermaid, and Shrek. It is reinforced by your aunts, mother, and other older women. They give you these anecdotes about Barack Obama and Michelle Obama. I mean she was his boss, but he also was a Columbia graduate who went to Harvard Law school. You hear the anecdotes from the artist like Ryan Coogler about his wife purchasing tools to help him become a filmmaker and you believe in the dream. “I was trying to write in Microsoft Word. It’s impossible because your format gotta be right. I was broke, playing football on the little scholarship money. And my wife scrapped together some cheese and bought me Final Draft, which is the software that you write your movies on. And she got me that.”-Ryan Coogler Unfortunately, if you are a structurally oppressed group, you have to work against this notion. You have to understand that the concept of fairness has not quite shown up in your life. So, all the “should” of life do not work like that. You work hard, and often you receive nothing in return. You work hard only to be bypassed by people who society uplifts and protects. You work hard, but the boss’s son is promoted. You date a man with potential, help him become who he wants to be, he breaks up with you, and then provides for a woman who did none of the work. It’s unfair, but it is reality. “she’s reaping all the benefits of his time with me”-Issa
If you are where you want to be, or are on the life path to getting there, you have to bypass potential with no evidence. It is a decision based on fear, fantasy, and hope. The fear is when you decide you can’t meet a partner on your level and you have to settle for in-the-making. The fantasy is the belief in a vision that has no evidence. The hope is the belief that all of the flowery words he tells you about his career and ambition will pay off. It is time to address these values and lay them to rest because you can’t keep pouring yourself into a vessel that has the possibility of walking away. Instead, pour into a vessel that you know will do the work, love you back, and be there for you, and that vessel is yourself.