It was hours before I was scheduled to take a Constitutional Law midterm. Instead of studying I sent the following black berry message (bbm): “Pookie! How do we feel about dating men that don’t have college degrees. In theory I think it’s no big deal…in practice??? What are your thoughts.” The recipient of this seemingly trivial bbm had a midterm of her own, and as she is quite the grinder I couldn’t believe she entertained such antics so close to test taking time. She responded. We had a short exchange. Once discovering that this too was an unresolved issue within herself, said: “That should be your next post!” Funny, because that would imply I could resolve how I feel about the issue. I haven’t.
This bbm was not unprompted. Every night up until then I woke up from horrible dreams with a motif theme. What prompted both the dreams and the bbm, was an encounter with a young man. He was cute, gave me butterflies. I rarely get them. Like, never. He seemed upfront, said he wanted to know “everything”. Eluded things about himself that seemed revealing for a first encounter. He wrapped things up by asking when was a good time to call. So, here I was with this guy that from the offset seemed open, not into playing games, yet, still elicited nightmares.
These dreams, they came from a place of fear. While this man seemed nothing but genuine, I was fearful of his pedigree. In my world where all my dates and relationships have stemmed from academia or spaces where supposedly forward moving progressive men migrate, the manner in which I met him gave no indication to his background. So here I was, having bad dreams about a seemingly nice guy solely because I was fearful that he did not hold a degree, fearful of the depth of his intelligence.
How could I, the same person that wrote here that I was more intrigued and moved by men in jail than the ones in my intellectually confined world, be so quick to qualify a man by his educational transcript. Here was my time to put some actions behind those words of equality, yet, I was like a sheltered catholic girl afraid to fraternize with the ungodly people. I felt like a hypocrite. I was a hypocrite. My mind continued to go back to the words I wrote in that post. I continued to remember the men that inspired it, the men that made me smile even during client interviews at the local jail. But still, my nights were filled with dreams.
And the dreams were awful. In one, my date and I in the car, having a conversation about President Obama. My date, ignorantly believing that President Obama the President of the entire world, not understanding other nations have other leaders. I had to try to make him understand. I had to teach him. And there were other dreams---the encounters were each different but there was one consistent quality—the men. They were all faceless.
And so, for days, I struggled. Not only was I inwardly feeling like a hypocrite and terrorized by the men of my dreams, I was also flashing back to a conversation that I had a week prior. I remembered saying, “People generally don’t interest me. I need someone with something besides a college degree.” (read: as lightly as possible. It did not come from a place of righteousness). The guy who was on the other side of that statement laughed in disbelief, then asked what I needed: “A man with a rap sheet!?!” I was irked by his thoughtlessness—the lack of depth. I don’t remember exactly how I responded but probably vaguely (“No, just something more.”) What I meant was that I wanted someone that stimulated from a place of abundance. I wanted a man, unlike him, that understood instantly what I meant by this kind of request. Still, if my only request was, “something more” then why didn’t I give the man I met a week later the chance to have it. Every morning as I woke up from another dreamful night I wondered what my problem was.
The problem, I recognized over some weeks, was that a girl who formerly said she could date any boy regardless of his educational background, graduated college and became a woman who realized it wasn’t just the education that was so impactful, but the experiences that came along with it. My college experience facilitated the woman I am today. I need a man in my life that has a similar experience. Not to say, men without degrees don’t have equally impactful and positive experiences. Simply, we have different impactful experiences. What I fear, though, is the lack of commonality we would share regarding the most defining parts of our lives. College, education as a whole, is an integral part of my story. A man lacking that experience would not be able to share in the conversation the way I would want him to. We would speak entirely different languages regarding it.
A year ago, three women and a man—all college educated, all striving to obtain a juris doctorate had a conversation on this very issue. Although the man of the discussion was outnumbered in gender and ideology, he held his own. He was strong enough in his opinion to seemingly paint us as silly superficial women. I was at an advantage—I understood exactly what he was getting at, for I had argued the same position of impartiality several years prior. I wasn’t about to back down and agree with him though. I couldn’t accept his premise, that a man working at McDonald's* had the same probability of being as compatible with me as someone with higher education. While his position speaks to his down-to-earth nature, it misses the mark on what many progressive women look for in men. Women are an evolving, ever-changing species. Women tapped into that quality and wanting to reach their full potential understand that the man they choose to stand beside often dictate the potential of their own evolve.
I confidently said then, and I say now that while I could be crazily physical attracted to a man that works at the McDonald's down the street, I do not believe we would ever have enough of the good stuff to make it work. I am not discriminating because I fear societal ostracize. I do not care about the amount of his paycheck. None of that is the true basis that allows me, without fear of coming off as an elitist witch, vow against men working at any kind of local fast-food establishment. I am able to confidently make this assertion because I know we would be unequally yoked. In his decision to choose a career at McDonald's would live the fundamental contradiction in how I choose to live my life. The decision to choose a higher education is indicative of one’s mentality about themselves and the world they live in. Understandably, this is a pretty simplistic generalization, not taking into consideration the various challenges in actually choosing higher education, still, generally speaking one’s will to go speaks to their mentality.
Not to mention, I am frequently underwhelmed. I smile—am friendly, but at the core there is something there that won’t easily stimulate. My mother says, “Erica, you have to give people a chance.” I agree. I am striving to be a little more open and patient. I want that whole package though. While this post seems a complete contradiction of “I Wish He Wore an Orange Jumpsuit” and that I am at the other end of the spectrum, blowing up men that hold degrees, I am not. I like the progressiveness of men that choose to better themselves through education. However, I cringe at the generic conversations that I seem to have with them. Similarly, I like the colorfulness of men who do not hold degrees. However, I wish we had the ability to go deeper with our conversations. I’m not putting one above the other. I don’t want either. Really, I don’t . You can have them both. What I want neither can offer. I have nightmares about one not fulfilling me intellectually, while I have daymares that the others will never emotionally move me.
Maybe, it has nothing to do with a college degree or the lack thereof. Maybe, it simply has to do with the caliber of the man. In my dream the faceless men were neither interesting nor intelligent. Under my premise then, they didn’t fit into either category—college going or not. Instead, I think these men, prompted by the mystery man, represented my fear of never being dually fulfilled. I did not have the information to determine which category he likely fell within, therefore, I had dreams that not only spoke to the anonymity of this man but the anonymity of the man that I ultimately want. The man in my dream, faceless, devoid of intellect or intrigue had nothing to do with higher learning—it was a manifestation of my real life terror that a man with both—doesn’t even exist. College going, or not.
* The McDonald's example was an extreme exaggeration. Most men that do not go to college do not necessarily have minimum wage jobs. Actually, many do very well. Also, I understand that there are alternative respectable careers that do not necessitate a degree. In fact, I would love to date an artist (good with his hands!) To make the point I used extremes.
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