'Being Mary Jane' gives a glimpse into what is stopping us from being happy
Tuesday, the second season premiere of BET’s Being Mary Jane opened with the main character as emotionally twisted and contorted over her relationship decisions as viewers have ever seen.
Mary Jane is a welcome anomaly on TV: a “regular” 30-something, single, professional Black woman who grapples daily with her desire to be in a romantic relationship and have children while juggling familial responsibilities and friendships.
Like so many of us, she has made wrong choices in her dating life (chief among them having a relationship with a married man) and has pushed away, for one reason or another, a man who appears to want to give her what she seeks romantically.
So, what’s the problem?
Mary Jane is the problem.
All of us, we, the collective Mary Jane, are the problem. We who have been nourished since we were toddlers on a steady stream of fragile princesses and happily ever afters have reached a point where our actions signal to potential life partners that we don’t need them in our lives.
We have been indoctrinated to believe that a wedding — and as is the case with the fictional Mary Jane, a pregnancy — as opposed to a marriage and parenthood, are life goals to be orchestrated and choreographed under our direction.
And if they do not happen on cue, we will take matters into our own hands.
Recently, an unmarried 40-year-old woman decided to throw herself a lavish self wedding, complete with 10 bridesmaids and a walk down the aisle, escorted by her mom — who gave the bride to … herself.
According to the bride, she’d decided some years prior that if she were not married by age 40, she would marry herself. But she didn’t marry herself, did she? She threw a party for herself, and we can call it a “wedding,” but we can’t call it a marriage. Why? Because a marriage requires another person; by marrying yourself you are saying that that other person in your life who would stand at the altar with you is unnecessary.
A wedding is a social gathering to mark the beginning of a marriage, a commitment to work together to build a life. A self-wedding says, “I really want to wear a pretty dress and have a ceremony; the marriage part is less important.”
It’s no different than our fictional Mary Jane freezing her ex boyfriend’s sperm, unbeknownst to him, to impregnate herself. Again, this action exhibits a desire for an outcome that has little to do with building a relationship with a partner and everything to do with having our way on our timing.
What are we to do?
We, as single women, as real-life Mary Janes, have to take a cold, hard look inside of ourselves and ask if what we really want is a romantic partner to share our love and laughter, (and whom we will inevitably argue and become frustrated with) – OR – do we just want a dream wedding?
We have to ask ourselves if we’re being selfish by being Mary Jane.
Are we forcing a timetable for our desired life events to occur (like having a wedding by age 40) and possibly driving away potential husbands because we are consumed with external factors instead of internal calm and clarity? To say the character Mary Jane has exhibited erratic and confusing behavior where the men in her life are concerned is an understatement.
She has pushed and pulled David, and not until he started another relationship did she decide, finally, that she wanted him back permanently. It’s no wonder that her character resonates with so many of us. We too struggle between the ideals and reality of what it takes to create a happy and healthy romantic relationship.
We too believe that we want to give and receive love but are so overwrought with angst about timing that, like Mary Jane, we may be repelling that which we seek.
Much like the Post-It™ notes papering the walls and other vertical surfaces of Mary Jane Paul’s home, we can sometimes say positive affirmations without actually making the changes required to live them fully. The result being a life that looks good on paper but ultimately rings hollow in our hearts.
Many of us say we want marriage — but how many of us are really prepared for the day after our dream wedding?
Follow Michelle Y. Talbert on Twitter at @HerPowerHustle