There’s something I notice lately, something women tend to do more than men. Something girls tend to do more than boys. I’ve seen manifestations of this affliction most of my life: the apology without real cause, the explanation that is typically unnecessary, the quick laughter to mask the hurt. But it wasn’t until recently that I noticed a visual/auditory pattern as well: parenthetical statements.
Hear me out. The other night, I was out with a group of women, and I noticed a regular pattern, subtle but distinct, to the banter of us. Statements like:
“I haven’t felt the same since I got COVID, well, I think I haven’t felt the same.”
“I just want a man who is, you know, kind. I don’t need to care about his looks, not really, you know. I just want him to be, I don’t know, nice.”
“I told him I was still reading, so why did he turn off the light. That really pissed me off—that’s bitchy of me, probably it is, right? I don’t think he meant it to be mean, but I was reading in bed, so it’s like I don’t matter, right?”
You see what I mean?? I felt this out-of-body aha moment that night, noticing a specific kind of halting cadence to our statements, like a toddler learning to walk, but not quite ready to let go of the furniture.
I kept thinking, most men would articulate those sentences, sans those parenthesis—they would be the figurative toddler standing, teetering, falling and getting right back up without any need to grab onto a nearby chair!
Those same statements, uttered from the mouths of men might sound more like this:
“I haven’t felt the same since I got COVID.”
“I just want a woman who is kind.”
“I told her I was reading, and she turned off the light.
#3 would be a clear conclusionary statement or likely would not be articulated in the first place because our imaginary gentleman wouldn’t need the big V: validation.
If you are a man reading this, feel free to disagree. After all, this is an opinion- piece and I am speaking in generalizations. There are women out there who possess the confidence to speak without a barrage of caveats weighing down their sentences; there are men who throw pauses into their words like a trapeze artist on a balance beam!
It’s one thing to be uncertain and articulate that uncertainty. It’s another, more subtle yet dangerous thing to crave validation or worse yet, lack faith in yourself.
Here’s what I know:
My friend’s breathing is more labored post COVID.
My friend wants to meet a kind, nice man who she is attracted to and deserves to be attracted to.
My friend was pissed that her husband turned off the light when she was reading.
When we sit with how we feel, when we accept all of our emotions, we no longer feel the deceiving call for external validation.
Whatever your gender, I challenge you to pay attention today and notice how you speak, how the sentences form on your tongue and in your mind. Embrace your inner compass, without the need to justify, apologize or gain the approval of others.
External validation is a hunger that never satisfies. Go within for approval and you’ll never starve.