At 24, I was convinced that I would have it all with a man. You could not convince me otherwise—and I thought the man in my life was surely to be the one I'd have it with! "Having it all" meant that our lives together would not only be complete with family, faith and love, but also filled with our passion for serving the community and building a philanthropic empire. Two years later, that man told me he’d fallen out of love with me and I should move on— without him.
I had no idea what to do with that information. Fallen out of love? Was I to move on or wait to see if he changed his mind? My idea of having it all was quickly turning into having nothing at all.
Like many of my peers, I lived the early part of my twenties anticipating life to be just a few short years away from the Claire & Cliff life. Jada & Will status. And most recently, Shelly & Barry-game proper. Not long after my heartbreak—the first of many quarter-life crisis earthquakes—I began to consider that perhaps the love life I’d once imagined for myself wasn’t realistic.
You see, being attracted to someone is one thing but sharing a passion (or passions) is an entirely different situation. I recognized then, as I still do now, that my passion for the community isn't going to be shared with every man I meet. However, many successful couples I do meet have a connection rooted in something in which they share. Take DJ KISS & DJ MOS for example. I've never met two people whose passion for music literally fuels the love they share. How much more perfect can they be for one another?
I want the passion I share for philanthropy and community to power my love with my Prince Jamaal (this is what I call him in my head…don't laugh!) and I want the passion we share to drive the impact we make together in our community.
Just shy of my 29th birthday, I’m finally beginning to live the life I have always imagined. I know my worth. God is the center of my life. I have a blossoming career and I’m inspiring and educating my peers to give back. What remains to be seen is that man who I connect with at a deeper level.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve dated some resume- qualifying men. They’ve been multiple degree holders, faith-filled, creative, nerdy, corporate, and even a few rocking low-cut Caesars with deep waves.
So what’s the problem?
These men didn’t share my passion for legacy building. They didn’t think about how their lives today can have an impact on the community down the road. They were content living the status quo: having a fly chick (that would be me!), a good job, a house, a car, and watching ESPN. Not the worst life, just not one I could ever be content with.
I'm not taking a shot at these men, or even at myself for choosing them temporarily. But as I realized they weren't what I need (nor interested in taking on my passions in a way that would place them in that role), I understood that I could not look to them to create the life I wanted.
I went on a nationally broadcast dating show last summer to err, “expand my horizons”. While the matchmaker wasn’t very good at match making, I did learn that I wasn’t projecting what I really want- and that is a partner. I want someone to build with. I don’t want a man in my life for the sake of having one. I want us to share a love for community, civic leadership, and social investment. I want to know my man and I can put our time, talents and resources together and really build something crazy. How dope would that partnership be?! This can’t be too much to ask. It just can’t.
But is wanting it all preventing me from having anything at all? #pleaserespond
Ebonie Johnson Cooper is a featured writer and blogger with a passion for community engagement and giving. Her energy can be read weekly on Friends of Ebonie, the digital platform that educates and motivates millennials to give back. Ebonie is still coming to grips that brown cows don’t give chocolate milk but otherwise she loves living her life on purpose. She currently resides in Washington, DC but home is Brooklyn, NY. Follow her on @EbsTheWay.