I'm strong. I don't need a man. Not right now anyway. A relationship would just tie me down… keep me from being me. I have goals and aspirations to fulfill. I want a successful career, and I'm right on track. I've had fellowships and worked a prestigious internship last summer. I've been awarded scholarships. I'm doing well in all my classes. Totally doing everything I'm supposed to do to land that job – should be lined up months before graduation – I can't wait to begin my professional life. I know I'll add real value wherever I go – I don't know where yet. I like keeping my career options open.

I'm confused though. I don't understand myself. How can I be so strong and capable… and yet so weak inside at the same time? I keep finding myself in this one guy's bed. He's really cute and he says he finds me really attractive, but he doesn't really treat me the way I want. I think he'll change. I think he'll eventually want to give me more. Like a relationship. But this feels like it's been going on forever. He just texts around midnight once or twice a week. Each time I tell myself I'm not going to go over there. I say that I'm going to be strong and independent. But each time I give in. Not that it's hard for him to convince me – I want to see him. I enjoy those few late night hours together.

But I don't enjoy that lonely early morning walk home. The occasional encounter on campus. I'm lucky if I receive a sideways smile. Never a hello… I keep wanting more. But I keep settling for less …How did I get here?

This was supposed to feel empowering. But it doesn't. I know I'm all about women's empowerment in education, careers, political life, everything. I wouldn't let myself get treated in a way that feels so uncomfortable anywhere else...so why do I settle for that here?

I wish I could be stronger. I grew up thinking I'd find a guy who would love me for my personality, character, mind, heart, and beauty. Maybe he's out there? Maybe I have the strength to find him. The strength to let myself expect better. Not settle for less. Maybe I could ignore the midnight texts. Expect real dinner conversations instead. Maybe I could form stronger relationships with guys, look for ones that show real strength of character. Maybe I could find a guy who would complement my own strength. Maybe I could work hard at developing real friendships—the kind of romantic relationships that will last—the same way I put so much energy into planning my future professional success. I bet I have more capacity for meaningful relationships than I imagine. I'm bet I'm stronger than I even know yet. Maybe I'll even surprise myself by just how strong I really am.

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