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I CONFESS – Books first, boyfriends later

as told to Sanka Price

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YEARS AGO, in a classroom discussion, the teacher told us that as young women we would grow to realise the most difficult thing a woman would ever face in life was getting a man to love her for who she was.She said that men would stick around you for sex and anything else that might benefit them, but few ever stuck with a woman who had nothing else to offer but love and kindness.Most of us were 17 years old and, of course, thought that teacher did not have a clue what she was talking about. In fact, the consensus was that she was speaking about herself as she was fat, had no shape, dressed in an old-fashioned manner and was not particularly good-looking. So that piece of advice was lost on us.That was nearly 24 years ago, and I have grown to appreciate the wisdom of those words and how right my teacher was. Based on my experience, I realise that most men just want you for what they can get from you. Love is a word that men often use, but only feel they can express this emotion through intercourse. Cuddling, hugging and just doing little gestures which show thoughtfulness and caring don’t seem to count. Given what I have been through – and I can add here, what a number of my friends had to endure – I feel it is timely to tell young girls to focus on their education as that is the only reliable asset they will ever have in life.As a young woman, especially if you have a pretty face and a good shape, you think you are God’s gift to the world. You often feel that the good-looking fellows should be attracted to you, while all the girls should be jealous of you. But guess what? Looks are meaningless if you don’t have brains. Even if you are a dunce but your good looks get men to flock to you, you still need brains to know how to deal with them and the gifts you receive from them.I can say these things because I’ve been there, done that.In my time I used to be the most talked about girl at school because of my looks. Many girls wanted to be my friend because I was what young people today would call “real cool”. And as my parents allowed me to go to parties all dressed up in the latest fashions,
    I was also considered the best dressed and “most experienced” – read sexiest – of all the girls in my class.I got that latter tag because in those days we talked a lot about sex and I pretended I knew everything, though – truth be told – I got most of what I talked about by reading and was still a virgin. But no one knew that, so I got a reputation as being hip and sexy and thought that I was “it”. But after secondary school, through to Community College and then onto university at Cave Hill, all that reputation got me was attention from the wrong men. Fellows came onto me but were all interested in sex, and when I was not forthcoming, they bolted.The long and short of it is that for most of my young life I battled an image that I created which was far from who I really was. I hated myself for that for years. I thank God, though, that I was not giddy-headed and did not decide to let men use me to shore up my false reputation. Instead, I studied harder and got my degree and later a professional qualification to be where I am today. Unfortunately, I never married though I met some wonderful men later in life, but most of them were already married. As a result, I’m still searching.The point remains that though I may not be happily involved, I have my career and it is very satisfying. Had I allowed myself to be pulled about I might have had a child or two and nothing to show for the investment in education my parents sacrificed to make for me.So I urge all of you young women out there to focus on your studies and strive to be financially independent. There will always be time for boyfriends later.