I GREW up thinking that having a boyfriend would define me. Obviously if I had a boyfriend, that automatically meant that I was smart, pretty and funny. Boys only want to be with smart, pretty and funny girls. Right?
The movies and TV shows taught me that all the cool girls had boyfriends, and if I didn’t have one, there was something lacking in me. I was straight up boy-crazy. They didn’t necessarily have to like me back, but it was fun to think that they did. I remember so many girl-talk sessions where we would analyse and conclude that because boy A asked me for a pencil it meant that he obviously liked me. There were times boy B debated with me for a few extra seconds in history class, which clearly indicated that I was totally his type.
Of course none of this was true and me and my girlfriends were just wasting our time talking about boys who clearly had more interest in playing football and discussing their video games instead of bothering about girls who giggled every time they walked past.
I came out of high school and pre-university with very limited experience in “dating” boys. My parents would never ever let me leave the house to hang out at the mall with “girlfriends” - they knew me better than that, and today I am thankful for their foresight!
But because I had never had a serious boyfriend, I was starting to believe there was something wrong with me. Why had no guy ever approached me for more than an eraser or my math notes? Was I not as pretty as the other girls, or perhaps I was just too loud, bossy and obnoxious?
I decided that Malaysian guys just didn’t “get” me and I was destined to find boys in Canada who would simply swoon over an exotic girl from a faraway country (isn’t that what the rom-coms tell us?)
After my first year of university, I had made a handful of guy friends, but none asked me out for coffee after class. I never got an invite to their parties and they barely talked to me beyond the lecture that we had just had.
What was wrong with me?
I was getting news from girlfriends back home, sharing that they had met guys who liked them and were going “steady” (do we still use that term nowadays? I don’t know the cool kid lingo anymore!) I was questioning my marketability and doubting if I was “cool” enough to have a boy like me. I am serious, no boy EVER approached me.
I finally decided if they were not going to come to me, I was going to find “him” instead. I started looking for ways to find the right guy — I joined societies and clubs, tried to make friends with more people, added classmates on Facebook, spoke out more in class, took better notes and advertised myself as someone who was willing to share notes freely.
Then something happened — no, a boy did not magically fall in love with me; instead I started getting top in class, I took up leadership positions in the societies I was in, I had a larger group of friends whom I socialised with. I had offers to work summer jobs, speak at talks and be an active member of my university community.
All my boy-gaining strategies turned me into a confident student and an extra curricular powerhouse. I became a more confident, independent and interesting girl — and suddenly I felt powerful. I liked who I was becoming and shifted my priority to investing into myself.
FINDING MY WORTH
With this newfound power, I realised that I didn’t need a boy to tell me I was worth something ...I already knew I was.
Ironically, when I was at my highest point, a boy came along, the right one. He liked me for my bossiness, weird humour and obsessive need for everything to be done well. We became friends, eventually went “steady” and got married. I didn’t have to look for him, he just came to me at the right time when I least expected it #jodoh
It sounds like a movie ending, doesn’t it? But trust me, when I was going through it, it felt far from it. There were a lot of times where I felt worthless because I wasn’t interesting enough for boys, there were moments where I doubted my appearance and years of simply thinking I was going to end up alone.
My message is simple, do not work on finding the guy — work on yourself and the right one will come.
I cannot give you a timeline of when he is going to show up or how it is going to happen (can you imagine if I could? That would be awesome!) but I truly believe that if you are the greatest version of yourself, you will attract people who are meant to be in your life.
We cannot dictate how we find our partner, the only thing we can control is who we are. So I urge you to focus your energy and fire on your schoolwork, career, health, family, friends, values, abilities and the things you are passionate in. When you prioritise putting yourself first and build an environment where you are powerful, you are going to attract the right person who is going to complement your character and your life.
I believe that God has created a man for every woman and I trust that they will meet when the time is right.
I know that it gets scarier as our ages rack up — aunties and uncles asking when they’re going to eat nasi minyak at your wedding, if you have someone special in your life and what happened to the last guy you went out with. It is terrifying to see your girlfriends get married when you are not even close to that, even more annoying when you’re asked to be a bridesmaid for the sixth time. But there is no shame in putting yourself first.
I understand that not finding a husband is not the same as not having a boyfriend in high school but you should never let that corrode your confidence or doubt yourself as a woman. Do not worry about finding the right man, he is on his way to you.
As assistant to fashion icon Vivy Yusof, journalism graduate Iman Azman finds herself thrown deep into the fashion world, a universe once foreign to her. Here she muses about her work, finding balance in life and shares what it’s like having a front row seat in the fashion industry. Follow her journey on www.instagram.com/iman_azman/