Do you have the “It” factor? No, I’m not referring to star quality. I’m talking about that special something that seems to make finding a keeper a bit more challenging than it is for the average chick. Although it’s been the topic of many discussions, no one knows exactly how to sum it up. But it’s the certain je ne sais quoi that tends to leave many single women running in circles trying not to embody it.

Let me explain …

There are two words that could never be used to describe my life thus far: typical and average. Yet there have been many times I’ve wished it were possible. Like many young women going through awkward phase after phase until eventually reaching self-acceptance, there were a number of reasons why I longed to be “normal.”

For example, I went to college at a very young age. My sweet 16 involved dorm room shopping and preparing for college, and while most girls were picking out prom dresses, I was already preparing for my junior year of undergrad. It was blessing in many ways, but also isolating at times. My maturity and accelerated education seemed to make relating to my peers complex and made it even harder when it came to relationships. How could I explain to my high school crush that I would be skipping two grades and leaving for college before he even had his driver’s permit?

Prior to college, I was the quiet smart girl. I had secret admirers, but didn’t know until years later because, well, I was the quiet smart girl. So I learned early on that beauty and brains seemed to be a combo best served lightly; too much of either and you’ll be considered too good to be true, or better yet, too unapproachable. As time went on, the list seemed to go on as well.

Yet I never wanted to buy into the fact that this was really true, that getting my degree at an early age would somehow dismantle my chances of that storybook happy ending of romance, love, and marriage. I never saw my academic achievements as bragging points, but as unique facts about me that I looked forward to sharing with the right person. But as time went on I began to believe that maybe I did have the “It” factor. I reasoned that maybe my personal accomplishments did in fact make me intimidating.

The “It” factor — it being intimidation — is the quality or variety of things women possess that supposedly makes men insecure. It can be anything from beauty, finances, and education to goals, a strong personality, height, or even your level of funny ( yup, if you didn’t know, funny girls are intimidating, too), all of which can plaster “she’s out of your league, Bruh, don’t even try” across one’s forehead.

I fed into this briefly. Instead of citing incompatibility as the reason why relationships with prospective suitors didn’t work out, I began to wonder if maybe I was too ambitious for the average brother. Was it possible to be too educated? Too intelligent? Too sophisticated? “He’s just not on your level,” friends would offer as reassurance, but these well-intended comments only reinforced the idea that my level seemed to disqualify the majority of single men.
So I began to think maybe I should downplay aspects of myself in order to be less intimidating. I calculated my talking points, casually omitted aspects of my life, and gradually introduced personal achievements in order to make others comfortable. I didn’t want to mention those stamps on my passport, my passion for classical literature, or my entrepreneurial aspirations, at least not right off the bat.

And so goes the challenge for many single women. We often walk the fine line of trying not to downplay ourselves and our aspirations while simultaneously trying not to project an aura of man repellent. It seems as though there is always a study, statistic, book, or theory as to why we are single or a new status quo telling us how to find a man, keep him, and get him to propose. While I’m sure there is always room for self-improvement, we shouldn’t fall victim to the hype that being single means there is something inherently wrong with us.

What I’ve come to embrace is this: Be yourself and keep reasonable standards. Yes, no one wants to be made to feel less than in a relationship, but we should never feel as though we have to compromise ourselves in a way that makes us “dumb it down” or downplay ourselves to attract someone. So no, I don’t wear my accomplishments on my sleeve, because I don’t measure my worth by my education or material possessions. However, I know I have to be with someone who can accept and appreciate all of me, while being secure in his own. I hold tight to the belief that there is someone compatible and tailor-made to suit me and that there is someone for everyone as well — someone who will find your “It” factor absolutely irresistible.

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