They Do Exist.

Being Single: They’re Never Going To Like Me.

Editor’s Note: Sometimes it strikes me how incredible it is that we all have the same thoughts, the same fears. And also how powerful the words we tell ourselves are. Today’s post was written by Hilary Sherratt. She blogs at Sittin’ There On Capitol, Hil & you can shoot her an email at hilary.sherratt[at]gmail.com. – Lauren

“They’re never going to like me.” I wrote this the summer before my freshman year of college. I wrote it definitively in the strong strokes of a ballpoint pen, after a summer of chasing the dream of dating.

He had been interested for a while, it seemed. In between the haze of July and the fear of starting college in the fall, we’d had coffee once or twice. We’d kissed on a bench looking out over the ocean – right there, he had put his hands on my cheekbones and kissed me. We weren’t dating, but I was sure it would become something. That it had to become something.

He disappeared. Texts went unanswered; the facebook message thread faded, and then was deleted. The summer dissolved, and I started school with the words, “they’re never going to like me.”

And that voice was followed by this chaotic hurricane of reasons: I must not be pretty enough, skinny enough, sweet enough, funny enough. I’m too young, not young enough, too intense, too light-hearted, too poetic, and not poetic enough… I contradicted myself two or three times over while I made that list. I inked a wall around my heart.

I wanted to believe someone would fall in love with me, but the hurt lingered. Every so often that vision flashed across my mind: kissing him in front of the ocean. As I watched, he disappeared. As time slipped from fall to winter to spring, and it was harder to remember how it had happened, and I repeated the strange logic: he didn’t want me, therefore… they’re never going to like me.

Not just that boy. Every last one of them. Every single guy you meet, I told myself, will do the same thing. Don’t get your hopes up. Don’t expect them to like you. Don’t believe it, Hilary. I harbored a secret hope that someone would prove me wrong. I wanted a guy to appear and say, “you’re beautiful” or “I want to be with you” or (the most treasured in my journal pages), “I choose you.” But I buried the hope under that line, “They’re never going to like me” and I promised myself I was being realistic, that if I let the hope out of its cage it would just hurt more in the end.

And then I gave up makeup. I threw out eyeshadow and blush and mascara, and suddenly my face looked back at me bare and pale and new every morning. Suddenly I was not smudging black liner beneath my eyelids and trying to look older, or looking forlornly at my pink makeup case wondering where on earth I’d even begin. I began to smile more, to watch where my eyes crinkle in laughter and how every passing feeling etches itself in my skin.

And then I met Anne of Green Gables. I read her books with a fierce pleasure, laughed at how dramatically she ran through life, how she and I rush over fences and through storms and how we create chaos and perhaps a bit of joy, too. And – still without even noticing it – I scrubbed away the skepticism. I washed off the makeup and the cynical, disbelieving heart. I repeated, over, and over, Anne’s own words: “I can’t help flying up on the wings of anticipation. It’s as glorious as soaring through a sunset… almost pays for the thud.”

And so I began to hope again. I began to undo the words hidden in my journal, and all the words about unworthiness, and all the words about what would never happen. Every guy became the story of one or two guys. Because the one guy I kissed in front of the ocean is not every guy. The one guy I hoped for the summer before college, who disappeared with a piece of my heart he didn’t know he had – is one guy. And I am me, one girl, with a big smile and a hopelessly hopeful heart.

And so I’m beginning to undo the words about what could never happen and believe the new words: “I will someday stumble into love.”

Because one guy is not every guy.


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23 Responses

  1. Beautiful. I feel like I'm reading my own words. In the past, I've often put up walls to protect myself. But the thing I forgot was that while I may be protected, I am kept from connecting with people, relating to others, learning from them, and living life!

    Thank you for sharing.

    September 14, 2011 at 12:52 am

  2. Dawn

    Perfect. Thank you for sharing.

    September 14, 2011 at 8:31 am

  3. ah, hilary! fun to see you over here posting and keep on hoping =) you're lovely.

    September 14, 2011 at 10:33 am

  4. Daphne

    Your words are always so beautiful and reach a place in my heart that few do.

    September 14, 2011 at 11:14 am

  5. love love love this. thank you for your honesty–there are more of us out there that feel this way than you know :)

    September 14, 2011 at 11:37 am

  6. theoutsidetrack

    needed to read that today. Thanks Hilary.

    September 14, 2011 at 12:41 pm

  7. niki

    I cannot thank you enough for this!! Your story is mine too. Wow.

    September 14, 2011 at 2:29 pm

  8. this was really encouraging. I really needed to hear this. This was my favorite post in singleness so far. : )

    September 14, 2011 at 3:16 pm

  9. Mary Jane

    This is me. Except I still believe that I’ll never be enough cause it’s proved over and over again! Struggling

    September 14, 2011 at 3:17 pm

  10. Simply love this. Beautifully written as always.

    September 14, 2011 at 3:23 pm

  11. pinky3009

    lovely!!…. Definitly one guy is not every guy….keep the hope alive…

    September 14, 2011 at 4:46 pm

  12. Elsiej

    Couldn’t agree more. Been hiding for so long behind these invisible but i’m so glad God was able to see right through the facade.healing may take awhile but i’m glad am not where i was.so keep on keeping on….LOVELY!!

    September 15, 2011 at 6:54 am

  13. Vanessa

    This is beautiful, honest and true. Thank you for sharing your experience! I needed this.

    September 15, 2011 at 5:02 pm

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  16. Wonderfully written from the heart–thank you! At 42, am sharing these struggles.

    October 21, 2011 at 1:48 pm

  17. Jena

    This is me. Thank you. Its a nice reminder to know you aren't alone.

    December 21, 2011 at 11:35 pm

  18. Diamond M.A

    I started crying when I read this because I remember being there all throughout middle school and high school and especially the beginning of college. It sucked. That thinking lead me to jump into the arms of a piece of crap bleepity bleep bleep (yeah still harboring hate) knowing full well he never cared but it's whatever I guess. Now these days I don't try anymore, I don't dress up (try to be modest), hardly do my hair, yeah I haven't been taking any pride in myself, kind of stopped taking care of myself. I've developed this attitude of where I don't really care anymore, if they don't care then why should I? That way I don't get hurt right? I'm not trying to date anymore, I don't see the point. I do understand why girls do it though and I certainly understand the effects of those actions that they (and what I've done several times) take. I like the fact that you still have hope which is something I've lost a long time ago.

    March 27, 2012 at 1:49 am

  19. deannalexis

    So beautiful. This is a lovely description of something I think every young woman needs to experience.

    March 27, 2012 at 4:55 pm

  20. I wish the Good Women Project would talk about this from a black woman's perspective. I am a young, black, Christian woman who is told all the time that no-one wants to marry a black woman.

    August 13, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    • gwp

      Well, as a young, white, Christian man, I won't pretend to understand all the nuances of your experience, but I think you have every reason to believe someone will want you. You only need one! Being black (or white or anything else) isn't as important as being kind.

      As a man, I can tell you that the world is full of smart, capable, beautiful women of every race, but many of these same women can be incredibly selfish, superficial, mean-spirited, unkind, disrespectful, and even self-righteous. Some men may still date these women, but most good men (if they are paying attention) would not want to marry such women.

      In Proverbs 31, the women that God would want men to marry are intelligent, capable, virtuous, comforting, and encouraging. Those first two can be found anywhere, but the last three are incredibly difficult to find (even in "good" churches). I know this from experience.

      Men aren't as impressed with a woman's fancy looks, college degrees, and careers as women think they are. It really doesn't take too much to make most men happy. If women would just become more kind, it would make all the difference in the world.

      So as cliche as it sounds, focus on your inner beauty, because not only will it set you apart from the sea of unkind women, you will be pleasing Jesus while you are single, and becoming a better version of you.

      September 25, 2012 at 2:51 pm

      • todayisasong

        Thank you for your response! You only need one is a true source of encouragement to me. I am focusing on becoming the best young woman of God I can be and building up my brothers and sisters around me. I'm getting myself in a position to be a worker for God where I am now as a college senior.

        October 11, 2012 at 11:41 am

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