by Jenny Block · 10 Feb 2020 · 6 min read
Somewhere between the end of myspace and the birth of IG stories, self-love became trendy. And not trendy in the we all love ourselves type of way, but trendy in this elusive thing we all needed and could only achieve by posting images of ourselves on social media platforms. As if our confidence was not enough or real unless someone else could see it and validate it for us.
I'm 34 years old. I have been in a relationship for the past six years. I am also unmarried, and I have no kids. Too often, I scroll through Instagram and look at the endless women who are pregnant or who already have beautiful families. After trying to conceive for over two years, seeing other people's "haves" on the internet often makes me feel my "have nots" to an extreme. Every time I see a pregnancy announcement, or even an engagement—even though I am in no rush to get married—it makes me feel lesser. I get suck in a "Why not me?" mentality.
Sometimes the person you have to stand up to is you! There I was, rewatching the Miss Universe 2019 competition. Which I do for inspiration from time to time. (No, seriously!) There is something about seeing women on stage, in full-on glam mode, and speaking with confident assuredness that really lights my fire! I have seen this Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa win this crown so many times before, but something about this particular viewing, her delivery or her words, touched something inside me a little differently. At that moment, I truly believed, with complete conviction, that she lives what she speaks.
Dating. Divorce. Marriage. Being single. None of it is easy. I don't think any of us have the right answers or know exactly what we are doing when we navigate through relationships or breakups, even if we do take every Buzzfeed quiz there is out there. What I have found out though, is by writing this book, Female. Likes Cheese. Comes with Dog: Stories about Dating, Divorce & Saying "I Do" most everyone can relate to some part of it, whether it is having an awkward date, being dumped, or falling in love. The short stories read as if we are talking over drinks at a bar gossiping about our love life. It's as if, you, reader, are one of my best friends. I hope by reading this book you are reminded that you don't have to be anybody but you and your mistakes are simply memories to learn upon. Get comfy, grab a glass of wine (or your beverage of choice), cuddle with your furry companion (pet or otherwise), and enjoy…
Since starting my entrepreneurship journey almost three years ago, running my own PR agency from all over the world, my weekends disappeared. I replaced brunch and lazy mornings with crafting media pitches, strategies, and research. Sure, I enjoyed my weekends and did fun things, but work was still a priority. When you are a business owner, the stakes are high, and taking a full day off (let alone two) seems wrong. There is always something more that can be done and life becomes an endless cycle of to-do lists. Then COVID-19 disrupted the world
I have been a single mom for the better part of my 20-year-old son's life. And for the past 10 years of it, I have had virtually no help in raising him. I made this single mom thing work by prioritizing my son and his needs above all else. Next came the job, because, well, I had to pay the bills, and lastly came me. Always.
Growing up, my parents (particularly my mom) expected greatness. This helped me do well in school but it also had a negative side effect: I became a perfectionist. I think perfectionism is tied to pleasing others and trying to make sure people like us. If we are perfect, you have to love us right? We feel like we aren't good enough as is, so if we are perfect, it will make up for it.
Racism is a multifaceted monster that thrives on visual and audible cues. From elementary to high school, as a person of color, I experienced what I can only describe as counter-cultural racism. I felt severely isolated and often degraded by the Black community. As a result, I had many more white friends than Black for most of my life. As I got older, my interactions with white women would sting with traces of biased and superior behavior. This was painful and unexpected, and again, I felt isolated and at times degraded.
Today, the armchair psychologist is helping someone stay positive about their body changing.