I stumbled drunkenly into my house after a miserable date that took place on a rainy night at a bar on the Lower East Side. It was a cool enough place for two people to get to know each other. It smelled of spilled drinks, desperation, and poor decision making, and I came home covered in two of the three. The DJ played a solid mix of throwbacks, so the vibe was chill, despite the growing crowd. The company; however, was questionable at best.
Once I arrived home, I clumsily found my way down to the cold hardwood floor of my dimly lit living room. I leaned back against my sofa and looked up at the clock wondering how I’d managed to stay out so late with someone who was so unpleasant and judgmental. I replayed the different scenarios of the evening, while I unzipped my boots and tossed them aside.
How did shit go south so quickly? I thought. Was it something I said? Had I challenged him too much? Was I not nice enough? My friends always say I should be nicer to guys. But no one ever tells guys to be nicer to me. Why is that? I thought. Surely I couldn’t be expected to answer these pressing questions on my own while drunk, so I called someone who is notorious for talking me down off these mental ledges. Whenever I start to question, “Well what the fuck is so wrong with me?” I can rely on solid advice from her. I knew how late it was, but I figured worst case scenario I would disturb her from writing, not wake her up at such an ungodly hour.
She answered the phone in a muffled voice, that told me she was actually asleep. I tried to get off the phone, realizing this was a bit much to lay on someone, but she heard the sadness in my voice, and asked what happened.
“He basically just sat there with one hand on my ass, and the other caressing the palm of my hand, telling me that I’m beautiful and dope, but I need to get rid of all this other shit,” I confessed after recounting the entire date. “I just sat there frozen, because every part of me wanted to hit him, or curse him out for making these kinds of presumptions without even knowing me. I couldn’t even find the words to tell him to get his hands off of me, and when he realized I wasn’t comfortable, he made it seem like I was calling him a rapist or something. It just went bad so quickly, and I’m so confused as to why,” I exclaimed in a fit of emotion.
By this point, I’d made my way off the floor, and into the bathroom to start my nightly routine of makeup removal. I could be on the verge of actual death, and I will not allow my head to hit my pillow without taking off my makeup and wrapping my edges. Good bed sheets cost too much to stain them with makeup, especially black, runny mascara.
“I just feel like guys are so disappointed once they get to know me, because I’m not stupid. They think, because I look a certain way that I should just nod and smile, but I don’t know how to be that way. I feel like I’m gonna be alone forever, because no one wants to deal with this kind of girl,” I said sobbing heavily while dousing another cotton swab in rose water toner.
“Jessica,” she said with a deep sigh. “You have to stop internalizing what these niggas think about you. There is nothing wrong with you. You are supposed to be smart and you can’t diminish yourself to make some ashy ass nigga feel comfortable with his own stupidity. Stop doing this. You are fine,” she said with a tone of finality. The kind all big sister types have when they are just done with your bull shit. My bull shit usually involves me beating up on myself about something inconsequential.
She managed to calm me down and reassure me that I am okay, and that my person will come. The irony there is that one of the many things my “date” criticized me for was my level of comfort with being single. He said that whole, “I’m just gonna focus on myself until it happens” thing is just a cop out, and you have to seek love as aggressively as you pursue a career. I damn near rolled my eyes out of my head and onto the dirty sidewalk at the mere notion.
“Call me tomorrow and let me know you’re okay,” she said intently.
“I’m okay. I’m just drunk and sad,” I mumbled, feeling embarrassed that I’d made such a stink about a guy I wasn’t even interested in.
“I know, but still let me know you’re okay tomorrow,” she said. The underlying message there was: Yeah girl I am aware that you are drunk, but this is coming from a real place of insecurity for you, so let me know you’re okay when you sober up.
I meant to be dramatic and just sleep on my floor after getting off the phone, but I sobered up enough to make it to my bed. I chugged a bottle of Poland Springs water as a last ditch effort to stave off the impending hangover, and lay with my thoughts, which would go on to haunt me for the next week.
I was so disappointed in myself for allowing a stranger to shake my confidence in myself. I was even more disappointed at the way I shut down, because I couldn’t think of a “nice” way to say, “COULD YOU FUCKING NOT?!” when he got too touchy feely with me. I hated that I didn’t fight harder to prove to him how wrong his views about Black women not supporting Black men were. I hated that I took responsibility for the date going badly, because of my own baggage of feeling like dudes just tend to not like me. I felt guilty for feeling guilty. But the real problem here was the same problem that’s been plaguing me for weeks now. I can’t seem to trust my own decisions.
I find myself feeling more and more uncertain, which is not what I signed up for with this whole turning 30 thing. I was looking forward to feeling more self assured and confident, like Trina on her first album, but it looks like that’s a journey I’m still on. It’s easy to feel self assured when there’s no one around to challenge that, but it’s totally different when life takes place outside of your head (or your therapist’s office). I guess this is what happens when the people closest to you have been telling you you’re too sensitive for most of your adult life. You lose trust in your own thoughts and decisions. You can’t tell if they’re valid, and you start to internalize what other people think of you. At some point I started to rely on those same people to help reassure me that I’m okay. Hence, why I called someone so late/early to help me figure that out. Thankfully, this time someone was there to talk me through it, but lately that hasn’t been the case. Lately I’ve been left to figure things out on my own, especially as it relates to this brand, and it feels really lonely, yet I still get shit done. I think this isolation is intentional. I think God is trying to show me that I really don’t need people as much I think I do.