Diary of an insecure Black Man

By Jamall Calloway

Ok, fine, I admit that I’m intimidated by you. Are you happy now? I would have admitted it sooner, but you never gave me the chance to admit it to myself. You never gave me the opportunity to ponder on my reasons for not approaching you; you just declared in your mind that my hesitance must be directly correlated to your greatness. After all, you got it going on, right? You’re beautiful. You’re ambitious. You’re everything that anyone would want, but in your mind I haven’t approached because I just can’t handle how beautiful and ambitious you truly are, right? Well, my dear, that’s only partially true, and while I have your attention, allow me to tell you my truth. Allow me to tell you why I’m intimidated by you and why approaching you is so hard for me.

In all honesty, it’s not you. It’s the idea of being rejected by you. I, like most humans, am still afraid of rejection. And who isn’t? I have been rejected before and am clandestinely haunted by that feeling. So, I live guarding my self-esteem, doing whatever I can to evade that feeling. Try to understand that the possibility of your rejection has the power to make me feel low simply because of my distant admiration of you. When you admire something, especially from a distance, sometimes you just want to sustain that admiration without tainting it with the possibility of harsh reality. I’d much rather listen to “Just My Imagination” (1971) by the Temptations over and over again and dream about you reciprocating my attraction than to hear you say you don’t. And as you can tell, I’ve already made up in my mind that you’re going to say no, so I’ve decided to say it for you without even speaking to you. There is no need to go through this scene because I’ve played it countless times in my head. I nervously approach you – you ruthlessly reject me. Therefore, I’d rather you be a secret crush than another name added to the list of those who turned me down.

Now, the second reason I’m intimidated is related to the first, but it has more to do with me, by myself, than it does with you in relation to me. Get it? The second reason that I’m intimidated is because underneath my confidence, behind my good looks and next to my promising career, I’m honestly insecure. You’re a gorgeous woman who can date whomever you please. You are brilliant and beautiful. So what makes me think I have a shot? Sure, I’m handsome, but so are most of my friends. I know I’m educated, but these days – a bachelor’s degree is the new high school diploma. And yes, I have promising career, but so do you. And if I’m right about you, none of those things really impress you in the end. They matter, but they’re not all that important. So what do I have to offer you that none of these other gentleman have? Me. And sometimes, I still struggle with wondering if I am enough.

The third reason you intimidate me is because you haven’t fallen ill to the “I’ve found the only good brother left” syndrome. These days, I don’t have to subscribe to normative gender roles and performances that assert my role as the aggressor in romantic encounters because so many women approach me. Due to the shallow numbers of black men in graduate school and/or my career, I’ve grown accustomed to sisters vying for my attention. It’s the new version of tokenism. I’m the only black man here, and if you want a black man, you should compete for me. Someone once told me that (in heterosexual relationships), “No man can have any woman he wants, but he can have every woman that wants him.” So I play the field, date around and enjoy the single life until I am forced to commit to someone or until the one I really like – really, really like – pays attention to me.

And for some reason, you haven’t paid attention to me or you are awaiting my first move. And I haven’t made a move yet because, honestly, I really like you, but I’m afraid of rejection. I’m insecure about myself even though I hide it under pseudo characteristics of confidence. And I’m no longer used to pursuing the woman I want because most pursue me. You personify the mythical perfect black woman who has it all together, but what makes me think you’d pay any attention to me? So yes, in all honesty, my dear, you got it; I’m an intimidated black man.
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