Here is the full transcript of Insecure actress Yvonne Orji’s TEDx Talk: The Wait is Sexy at TEDxWilmingtonSalon conference. This event took place on February 28, 2017. To learn more about the speaker, read the bio here.
Right click to download the MP3 audio:
Yvonne Orji – Actress + Comedienne + Writer
You cannot date until you get married. Yeah, that was the only dating advice that I got from my very strict immigrant Nigerian parents when at 16, I asked them if I could date like all my other American friends. And all I got back was: “Yvonne, you cannot date until you get married.” What does that even mean, guys?
How can I get married if I never date? And more importantly, how can I have sex if I never date? But what my father managed to do in that very short sentence, other than utterly confuse me, is instill the fear of God and his belt in my life.
So I decided, you know what, when I turn 18, I’m going to be an adult. Okay? I’m going to be an adult. And I can make adult decisions, and I don’t need permission to date because I’m going to be 18.
Also, when I turn 18, I’m going to get married. I’m going to have sex. Yep, that’s what I am going to do, I’m going to have sex when I turn 18. And I had it all planned out, y’all. I was going to have rose petals, I was going to have candles, a waterbed, if I was lucky, and Maxwell’s “This Woman’s Work“ was going to be playing in the background. Yes! Because “Love & Basketball“ is my favorite movie.
But when I got to high school, all the girls kind of crushed my dreams. They were, like, “Um, Yvonne, your expectations are way too high for your first time. You should be lucky if you get the backseat of some guy’s car, or the basement apartment in some dude’s mama’s house.” What? Do you see my face? That was not the will of Jesus for my life. That was not going to be what I told my daughter about my majestic first time.
So I waited. I was like, “I can wait.” I waited it out, and sure — Because I was never one to buckle under peer pressure, but year after year, I slowly realized that I was becoming the only member of the V-club. That’s cool. That’s cool because by my senior year, I hadn’t even identified my accomplice. That’s right! He was a black and Puertorican papi: [indiscernible]. And he was a freak, too! I was, like, “Look at Jesus; he cometh to.”
I was, like, this wait is going to be worth it. And I told him the game, and I was checking, alright, I’m 17. Okay, I got a couple more months to my 18th birthday; it’s going down. Candles, waterbed, rose petals. Like, I laid it down. I thought he was down for the count. I thought he was down for it. Until my freshman year of college, 17 with about three or four months left to go to my 18th birthday, and I realized that there were other girls who did not have the same timeline as I did. And they projected their offer to him, and he took them up on their offer. And that’s cool, because I said, “You know what, Yvonne? You are in college; I am sure there’s a pretty young thing who has work study, so he can afford these rose petals that you’re looking for, and whose roommate goes home on the weekends, so you can get your set of sheets girl.
And then, life has a funny way of interrupting your plans because one faithful Thursday, a friend of mine invited me to a campus Bible study. You know, I love Jesus; he cool, why not? Let’s go.
I got to the Bible study, and there was this beautiful minister, she was a med student, and she talked about how she was 25 and waiting until marriage to have sex. Hold up. What? Time out. Jesus, what happened? Who hurt her? I don’t understand. Why would anybody do this? This is unacceptable. Mmm, what? I’m not here for this. This is not why I came.
And I sat there with my arms crossed, like, “This? No. I don’t — This is not the will of Jesus for my life.” And as I listened, though, she talked about just how much God was so important to her, and he had done so much for her that this ask was not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. And I was, like, “Okay, what else you got?”
And then she kept talking, and her passion for Christ was really intriguing because she called God “daddy.” I never had heard anybody call him “daddy.” Like, that was very intimate and very personal. And so I found myself going like this, to like this. And by the time I knew it, y’all, I’ve been bamboozled by Jesus. I got saved at 17. I told him I was going to wait till 18, and he swooped in at 17, and now: 33. Still waiting; we are still waiting.
But it’s all good, though. I don’t mind the wait — Thank you. I don’t mind the wait, but my parents are singing a different tune now. When I remind them of their once sound dating advice, what I get back is: “Yvonne, time waits for nobody. You are no longer a spring chicken; you are ripe for marriage.” ‘Ripe,’ that’s what they call me, guys. Like I’m a mango.
I love this other one: “Yvonne, I went to church today, and I lit five candles for you. Yes, maybe Jesus will see one of them and send you a husband.” So who needs Tinder? You’ve got a candle lighting African mama. Okay. That’s how this game works.
But I don’t really — I don’t mind the wait. Because, here’s the thing about it, like, I joke around a lot, but what the wait does is weed out the riff-raffs. A lot of people think the wait is actually keeping me from my prince charming, but what the wait actually does is keep me away from these dudes:
“But what do you mean by commitment, though. Like, commitment, commitment?” Yeah, I don’t have time for the foolishness, y’all. And so, for me, if you ask do I want to have sex? Of course I do! Like today, like right now, if you’re here, like, let me know. But that’s just a short comfort, right? And sometimes you’ve got to sacrifice short term comforts to get long-term quality relationships that I want. Yeah, that’s my face, that’s the short term comfort look. Like, it ain’t always sexy, y’all, but it is sexy.
And so for me right now at 33, the wait is powerful, it’s discipline, it’s focus, it keeps the main thing the main thing. And I know some of you are all listening, like, “Boy, Yvonne, this sounds really good, however, I’m not about this way into marriage life. Umm, so; you got anything else for me?” I do, I do. I’m not here trying to sell to you, “Oh, wait until marriage.” My 17-year-old self is right there with you, like, “Please stop talking right now, please.”
But here are some things that I do feel that you can wait for in a relationship. I feel like every relationship has things that are important that you can wait for. And so, I’m going to give you five things.
One, wait on the person who sees you for you and loves you regardless. Because here’s the real: we’ve all got issues, y’all. Like I don’t think I had issues, I mean, look at me. Ha! I’m amazing. On the surface, there was no, like, seven-year relationship that left me hurt, drinking red wine on a Thursday, and eating popcorn like Olivia Pope, but we have issues. And it wasn’t until a fight with a friend of mine that let me know, like, I’ve got some — some deep childhood issues that I don’t even know about. That’s the thing about wounds: you don’t know you have them until they’re scratched, and then you realize the scab is still fresh.