Perception is reality. Or at least that is what they say. What is actually being said is that other people’s perception of you is reality. It dictates how the world around you will operate — from work, to friendships, to relationships. How they view you is how they will treat you. Does it have to be the truth? No! But it becomes the world that you are forced to live in. It’s caused by the things that you say and do. To you, there is absolutely no meaning behind them. To others, there’s an air that exudes from you into the universe. From that air, you are placed in a box. A box you can’t get out of because you have no idea that it exists. Instead, you live in your own little bubble until that bubble is busted by none other than those who know you best.
That is precisely my story and what happened to me last night. While conceptualizing what I was going to write about when I called my cousin/twin (cousin because our moms are sisters and twin because those sisters thought it would be cool to give birth on the same day). I asked “Do I come off as if I don’t need help or want help?” See, I’ve heard this in the past from individuals that I just brushed off while thinking “You don’t know me.” In my own little bubble where I comfortably exist, I long for the day that I don’t have to do everything on my own. And that was going to be my topic — You Don’t Know Me! So, imagine my astonishment when he lashed out a bold “yes” in response to my inquiry (ok maybe it wasn’t a lash out, but I was so taken aback by what I thought I wouldn’t hear that I’m interpreting it as a lash).
Then he added, “and that can be intimidating.”
I said, “ok maybe I don’t necessarily come off as needing help, but I don’t come off as not wanting it, right.?”
“They are the same thing.”
But they aren’t! Topic immediately changed.
Wants v. Needs
So, we all know the difference between a need and a want. A need is a survival essential. It’s required; and without it we would perish. There are few essential needs in this world. God, family, oxygen, food and water are basic survival necessities. While other needs, such as love and support, helps get us through life’s journey.
A want is icing on our cake or a cherry on top. Most times we are motivated by wants for example- I want to travel the world, so I come to work every day giving me means to do so. I want to lose weight for vanity purposes so I stopped eating certain foods and workout 4-5 times a week. Our needs often times get put on the back burner of our wants if we are not careful (like I have an injured wrist, and I need to stop doing pushups to allow it to heal, but I want Michelle Obama arms so I put on a supportive wristband and get it in).
I feel as though we have come to a place in our existence where we believe that we don’t need anyone. We can navigate this journey on our own. But as Jordan’s Vanilla Swag-a- latte said to her in the Best Man Holiday, “Everyone needs someone”. This was after she told him that she didn’t need him.
A friend of mine loved when Jordan told her boyfriend in “The Best Man Holiday” that she didn’t need him. She cheered her on in the movie theater. I on the other hand cringed. I couldn’t help, but to think, Nooooooooo. First off, who says that to someone? Secondly, girl stop it. Yes you do! We have faked ourselves out all of these years allowing ourselves to believe the former is true. Yes, we are independent. Yes, we are strong. Yes, we can get the job done on our own. Not downplaying that. But why do it ALL if you don’t have to. Even the strongest person needs someone who understands them, someone to laugh with, someone to cry with, someone to cheer them on, hell…just someone to take out the trash!
If you want to go spiritual, we were put here to procreate. Last time I checked, the only one to do that on her own walked the earth a bazillion years ago and gave birth to the Messiah. Although she didn’t conceive with and Earthly man, God still assigned an Earthly man to her so that she didn’t go through raising the Savior by herself. And if God assigned him that means she NEEDED him!
Hence, I do in fact want and need a man. I’m not afraid to admit it. We were not created to live life on this earth alone. I have no desire to do so. I believe that for me to live out my full potential, I need a partner.
Perception Getting in the Way
I still battle with the perception that people have of me and what I know me to be. As a society we get caught up with accomplishments and what we acquire. But that is not the person. Yes, I am independent. Yes, I am strong when I need to be. I’ll fess up to those perceptions.
But that does not mean those of us who have learned to do for ourselves don’t need or want a man to do anything for us. Unfortunately, this perception formulated doesn’t hold true. I know that I am capable of doing. I can change a tire if I have to. But, I DON’T WANT TO!
Men seem to think that women who are independent need nothing from them. I recall a time when I asked an ex of mine to carry my bag, and he responded with “For what? You’re an independent woman, you can handle it.” Again… WHO SAYS THAT!
It’s like they see that we can do for ourselves and assume we don’t want any help. And for the trifling ones it gives them a pass to do nothing (I’ll blog about this later). This notion is misguided. I gladly welcome a gentleman and for him to do gentleman like things. Carry my bag, open doors, pull out chairs- you know the basics.
In retrospect, I believe he was intimidated when I would do things as buy furniture for my home. He would tell me “well you already have everything that you need” as though there was nothing that he could provide for me. Umm… what happened to love, affection, support, protection, friendship, and so on.
Some even get offended at not feeling wanted. On my way to the grocery store, one guy I was seeing politely asked me if I would like him to come be my “mule”. I nicely replied telling him that I would enjoy his company. He then stated “Never mind. I can see that you want to do your independent thing.”
Please explain the infraction in desiring someone’s company rather than allowing one to think that the sole purpose of his presence is to carry my bags?
Being compared to Independent Black Women Images
So, I guess that it shouldn’t have shocked me when my beloved twin-cousin tells me that this is how I come off. Apparently, on the outside I come off as some of our favorite primetime drama leading ladies. My girlfriend told her husband that Mary Jane Paul reminds her of me. I have also been compared to power-driven Olivia Pope and most recently the ice queen Annalise Keating. If I am honest, I despise the comparisons. Not only are they all negative depictions of black womanhood -all having slept with and stole married men and then wore it as a badges of honor, all career obsessed, and all are ridiculously unhappy, but they are all emotionless creatures who just can’t get right!
We see these images, we go back out into the world thinking this is how we should operate. We want power like Pope, we want the designer fashions like Paul, and we want to run the boardroom like Keating. Even worse, we get out into the world with men who too see these images; and, in the back of their minds this IS how we operate. They think that all of the running of board rooms will enter their bedroom and we will try to overpower them. Casting aside the fact that some of us know the importance of a balance and where we lack we are open to adjustments. The lack of understanding once again places us into a cluster of judgment.
Young girls evolve into independent women because many have witnessed their mothers play the roles of a mother and father. Upon entering into adulthood, they apply the same approach as a way of survival. Independence is not our go to or desire, it is the final destination on a train of missed stops. We are left with no other choice but to get off at independence.
But that is no reason for intimidation. Men realize that you can add to who she is. In return, she is likely to add to who you are. Jay-Z didn’t run from Bey and she makes songs about the independent woman on every album. He had the foresight to see that the two of them would make a power couple and together they are changing an entire industry!
It’s when the right man comes along that we so-called “independent, needless, and want-less women”, show another side of ourselves. It is him that sees through the hard exterior that is perceived by everyone else to the human being that is inside. It is him that will pair up with her and conquer the world.
Because in reality- not only do we all want, but we all need that type of love and intimacy that can only be found in a romantic relationship.
So, I may be perceived to be void of needing help from a male counterpart and that’s not fine. Men, during the courtship and dating phase, I challenge you to place the perceptions aside and get to know her.
Get to the core of her being. I assure you she’s more than what meets the eye.
Stay Tune for next week… Ladies what do we do to cause these perception?