Shifting The Gaze
Growing up, I always wanted to marry a white girl. So from my childhood, you could see I was attracted to light skinned girls. As a boy, if there was a time someone teased me with a girl, it was most likely a fair girl. This went on till I finally dated a White French girl for a brief moment. I was 20, she was 16. Ouch. I can explain! I was young and in love. Anyway, fast forward into the future, after my last relationship, I bumped into this lady during one of our official rounds. Dark and strikingly charming. We instantly clicked and started talking. I will not lie to you, that was a big crush right there, even though I knew she was a few months away from getting married. Prior to that, I wouldn't even have entertained the thought of having a dark skinned person for a girlfriend or worse, allowed it to lead into a crush. I was the kind that gave a straight face to a dark skinned lady in an elevator and bore my 32 to a fair girl. But this was different. After that acquaintance, I knew I was never going to be the same again when it came to what I primarily looked out for in a lady. I was never going to look at a woman on the basis of their skin colour. From that time, I allowed myself to look past the skin to see everything else covered in the skin. I looked and saw beauty beyond the physical, I saw smiles and laughter for what they were, and from where they were coming from, rather than the colour of the lips. I saw the mind, the heart, the spirit and the soul beyond the colour of the flesh that encapsulated them. My eyes were opened forever, to see a woman beyond her skin. She is not her skin. Two years after, when I met my wife, and I knew what to look out for beyond the skin colour. The Rest, they say, is history.
I had to share this personal story to put what I am coming to say into a proper perspective because I know many of us are stuck in places we need not be, because of our prejudices and biases. How many of us have told ourselves we would never date people of certain physical structure or features? How many of us have sworn we will have nothing to do with people of certain tribes or certain kinds of vocation? How many of us have also told ourselves, it has to be this kind of person with this physical structure or features, skin colour, type of job or from a particular tribe or nothing else?
How many of us have let go of men or women because they did not fit into our stereotype? How many of us have zoned people who are willing to jump off the Adomi Bridge to be with us, while we nurse one broken heart after the other...Some of them even playing Jesus, to help you heal when all they want is to have you? How many of us are living a life of regret, because the man or woman you are with (someone who fitted well into your stereotype) is of little value to you beyond your prejudice?
Life is heavily influenced by perception. What is good, what is bad, what is ugly are all perceptual. You cannot see with your eyes what you can't perceive with your mind. Which is why people who make choices that fit into their regimented checklist do not always enjoy their choices. Your checklist MAY BE a product of your biases, and the more unyielding you are about it, the higher the likelihood that you may miss everything else that does not find itself in the regimented core. If you do not challenge yourself to look past those biases to see something new that crossed your path for what it is rather that what you perceive it to be, you may miss many opportunities to be with the one who will ultimately make you happy. Life happens to us in packages. In life, you mostly don't have the luxury of picking and choosing to suit your eccentricities. Sometimes, you may be blessed to have it all fitted out for you, but that is one in a million. For the rest of us, we take what life offers and search for our treasures in there. You try to see, beyond your mental image, if this new experience is worth looking into; if this new person is worth considering. Do they bring something to the table that you are not finding in someone who fits your idea of an ideal partner?
I am not the kind that would advise you to be reckless with your heart and your emotions. I am the type who will tell you know ahead of time; know what you are looking for and go for it. If it is not what you want, do not waste your time on it. That is me. But that applies to the core values you carry and whether you find in someone the ability to meet those values. Physical features of a person is not a core value when character is in question. You like them huge, shredded and suave, but that comes with its attending flies of women who want the same thing. With a man leaking all his morality out, he just falls for everything in skirt that crosses his path. So you get stuck with such a man who looks like everything you prayed for, but he is everything you hate in a man. A cleavage flowing like a tempestuous sea in the bosom of a fair lady is not enough to make you let go that girl who may be petite and economical on her chest area, same girl who is all you need in spirit and in intellect to take you to your next level. Her beauty is not on her face, but in her brains.
Can you look past your biases? I am not saying if you are ok with what you have, break it. Why break what is not broken? But if this chase and pain is not working for you because you are not getting your specs on the inside to fit the outside, yet the outside is what always draws you to people, then look past the outside. Look past the trimmings, the negligibles and the peripherals and focus on the core.
There is beauty beyond the looks if you ask your mind to see beyond the looks. There is bliss and peace beyond the outward turbulence if you are willing to engage someone for a minute. Sometimes, the most loathsome person to us may turn out to be the person we have been waiting for all our lives. Just attempt to see beyond their shell and the inscriptions on it, and feel the softness within. There are diamonds beyond the dull façade, if you are willing to look for a single spark underneath the dross. Have you not heard people say of those who are perceived to be rude or arrogant, ‘oh they are nice if you get to meet them.’ I understand that, naturally, you will not be attracted to a rude person. So even going past that to see who they are on the inside is almost an impossibility. But you see, people may be rude because of their experiences, become of their upbringing, because of their weakness (being rude as a form of defense mechanism). However, these may be people with the most teachable spirit you will ever get to meet, if you get to know them, and attempt to help them.
She is not a virgin, can we see beyond the fact that two people were therefore you? Don’t you realize she may have lost her virginity because she loves deeply and completely that she was taken advantage of? Do you want a virgin who cannot love deeply? She has a child out of wedlock, bad bad girl. Yes yes, so it would seem. The only difference between you two is, you used a condom or got your girl to pop a pill. You know, she could have aborted it so she stands outwardly innocent like you. But she respects the sanctity of human life, so she would live with the consequences than kill an innocent child. Have you looked at it that way?
She is not Akan, he is not Dagomba, she is not a Lawyer, he is not a talkative, she is boring and does not like outing. Tell me how does any of these make you the individual happy or sad? Tribe is a social construct. Career is as good as the legacy you leave behind, the impact you make or the money you pile up. Prestige? Honestly? There is no prestige in marrying a broke and failed lawyer. I would take a rich Trader over a broke lawyer any day, and I will take an influential entrepreneur over an unknown everyday doctor any day. A guy who is always on point outwardly is preferable, but what else beyond that? A quiet, supportive, faithful and simple man is better. And you only get that person when you look past their humble appearance to see the heart of Gold they have.
If I was fixated on the skin colour, I would have missed my wife, because she is not light skinned and does not intend to do anything about it. That would have been a shame; imagine all the beauty I would have missed in all of my experience with her. You need to open your eyes to look past your prejudices, especially when it has not brought you much bliss.
If you are single and searching, be more engaging and be willing to entertain people who do not fall within your regimented checklist. Entertain them, but don’t be in a relationship with them. You don’t need to jump into a pool to test its temperature. A dip of the finger will establish that. Entertain diverse people. Go out on a date, keep your heart and your undies under lock and key so you can check out if the inside is as bad as the outside is. People are not difficult to figure out, so engage them and figure them out. But for the love of God, keep your eyes open. Your better half may not come dressed up the way you want it, but they are still your better half, and it is your duty to find them out. And in all of this, if you are a spiritual person, ask God to guide you to the right person.
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