28 Days of Love with Sirobe

Courtesy of Sirobe Carstafhnur

Courtesy of Sirobe Carstafhnur

Oh, love. It’s familiar, elusive, complex yet ironically simple if you ask certain people. Sirobe Carstafhnur tends to believe in a less complicated version of the emotion, as she tackles multiple forms of love in her blog series “28 Days of Love”. Now residing in New York City, the 37-year-old Mississippi born architect created the posts for her friend’s blog Typed Out. Since starting the series on February 1, Sirobe has shared her personal experiences in topics love touches, from generational love that spans the test of time, to long-distance love letters poetic enough to interest a book deal.

Beauty Anthropology: What made you start the blog series "28 Days of Love"

Sirobe Carstafhnur: I feel like [during] Valentine's, [or] the whole month of February, [is that] that people are either for love or hate love because they don't have anybody. There's no in between.

There's this kind of the attitude we have that you're always looking for the one and you're always 'out there'. If you're not with someone that's like a long lasting relationship, then you're not doing anything. So you can definitely have these moments with different people where it doesn't even have to be a romantic relationship. It could just be a romantic moment. And [you can] enjoy that and carry that with you for a while, you know? Everyone can have these kind of magical moments that we don't cherish enough because we're always too busy [thinking] "Is that the one? Okay, that wasn't the one."  That's kind of the final answer for everything. It either was the one or wasn't the one or either it was special or it wasn't special. I got the idea to kind of share these romantic moments I've had over my life, and just to let everyone know you don't always have to be in a serious relationship to have really nice moments in your life.

BA: How did it feel sharing something so vulnerable?

SC: It's been really therapeutic for me.

Sometimes we get in a rut when we're not in a relationship, or something hasn't worked out in a long time, or we just came out of a toxic relationship. We kind of get stuck.  Not being bitter or jaded, but [it's] kind of hard to remember those times where it really was nice. It's just been really good to kind of let a lot of stuff go, remember my worth, remember that love can happen [and] that these love moments, even for myself, did happen. It's just been really, really refreshing. Kind of like a load has been taken off, because these moments were nice and [I was] reliving those moments again.

BA: You travel a lot! I'm wondering if you feel like love is communicated differently in the places you've visited?

SC: I do!  I don't want to bash America, but in other countries, [showing love] it's more accepted. They're more honest when they're looking for love. I feel like Americans these days don't want to admit it. [They say], "Okay, I'm looking for somebody, but not really, because I don't really need you." And it's not the whole independent woman thing. it's is everybody! Everybody is a little bit skeptical about it, where in other countries, it's straight up, "Yes, I want a relationship. Yes, I want to partner."  I think here we don't want to put it out there as much. We feel like it's seen as a weakness, or that it looks like we need somebody if you admit that you want a relationship.

BA: In your opinion, when do you think that conversation to tell someone that you're looking for a serious relationship should come up?  Do you think it should be the first date? They have all these dating books that tell you 'here's how to play the game, and to wait three months'?

SC: There's nothing wrong with putting it out there when you meet somebody. But if you know that you want a relationship without totally deeming on the person, and going through a checklist with a person saying, 'Is he this or is he that?' Just let that developed over time. But you can be honest with your intention.

BA: Based upon that answer, what do you think the current status of love among millennials is? Do you think we're romantic?

SC: I think, in the whole instant gratification society that we are in now and with the whole swiping left and swiping right, we're too quick to judge whether somebody works or not. We're judging off their Instagram. The whole thing when you date online, the first thing someone might ask you is, "Oh, what's your Instagram?" So they're trying to figure out everything about you from what you post on Instagram. So nobody is really trying to make a gamble on waiting it out and just enjoying someone and going from there. But at the same time, millennials are getting married a lot later, which is good.  

During my grandparents' days, they had to get married early, because the way to come up in society was through marriage. Especially as a woman. You definitely had to have a man to get just the basics. So that's a little different. Also with my grandparents' generation, is once they do it [marriage], they kind of stick with it, right? They learn each other, they evolve, they grow, they kind of tough it out. Like my grandma said, "It might be years that y'all don't like each other." And for us, it's, "You're messing with my peace. Don't mess with my peace."

BA: Be her peace [laughs].

SC: Exactly! There will be some days you might be a little frustrated and annoyed.  They [my grandparents] tried. I feel like we don't try as hard as they tried because nobody really wants to put themselves out there. So we hold back, and that holding back is a detriment to an actual, true relationship. You do have to be vulnerable and you do have to open up if you want something that my grandparents had.

They [my grandparents] had to deal with a lot during that time. Just being publicly humiliated if somebody said something racist to them is being vulnerable.

Courtesy of Sirobe Carstafhnur

Courtesy of Sirobe Carstafhnur

BA: So it's almost like they were conditioned to be real because they didn't have any other choice. They didn't have anything to hide behind, including their skin color.

SC: Exactly!

BA: Not that we could ever hide our "blackness", but we can hide behind a persona online.

SC: Right, but it's not even online. You could do it in real life. You can always have this perception that 'I'm so busy, so I don't have time to stay with you.' I was busy. I was working, I was stressed out - there are so many distractions for us to not give our all in a relationship that make it really tough to get attention these days.

BA: In your opinion, what do you think are the best methods to fight that? What are your favorite ways of showing love?

SC: I think the highlights for me when it comes to showing love is when you can be completely honest, you know? There was this one guy, [and you know] guys always want to protect their ego and everything. But when he would say the corniest jokes - and it wasn't even corny like 'I'm trying to be corny.' It was just a joke that didn't go over well. He would say,  "Oh, that was cheesy. I'm sorry." [laughs] It was the cutest thing because it seemed like he didn't have to keep pretending, you know? And I think that's the best thing in love, where you can get to a point where you can just be yourself [and] where you can laugh at yourself. And you can laugh at yourself together, as well as motivate each other. 

A lot of people think "I love you" is the best thing to hear from your partner, but for me, it's when he says, "I'm so proud of you." I love that. I love when a man tells me he's proud of me, because he's paying attention to what I'm doing, and he's proud to have me as his girlfriend.

BA:  I was reading Post 19 "Mother of Dragons" and I wanted to talk about women and their anger and how that's portrayed in the media. I was watching the recent interview between Mo'Nique and Steve Harvey, and it made me really uncomfortable. It seemed like she wasn't able to fully express her frustration because she was in the spotlight. What are your thoughts on women being able to express that side of themselves today? And how do you think it correlates to love?

SC: That's a tough one. Because we [Black women] do have a stereotype of always being angry, it's really hard for us to be raw with that emotion. And then we suppress it. So when it comes out, it's "Oh, you're just being an angry black woman."

But I was just watching the news this week and now it's the book Good and Mad: the Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger.  It definitely didn't say it was for white women, but that's who write the book (the book was written by Rebecca Traister, a white woman and feminist author who’s work has appeared in The New York Times and The Cut). And so now it's okay to be angry. When it comes out in relationships- and I'm not speaking for all Black women-

I think some of us suppress it the first time it comes out, you know We try not to be angry. So when it finally does [come out], it's just built up. And it might come out a little wrong, because we've tried to suppress it [in order to] not seem angry, or to not seem bothered. We know we're always going to be judge, so we always try to be polite We go overboard to not become the stereotype.

I think anger is a real motion, just like happiness. Nobody tells you to pull the happiness back.

There's a difference of being angry when it's detrimental to the relationship and angry where it's beneficial to the relationship. You want to be real with your partner, and sometimes they're not going to accept you. I have a girlfriend and we fight over the dumbest things. Things that didn't even concern us. One day, we were fighting over a building's name in Dubai and we went all the way up to 10. And then the next two seconds, we were like, "Oh, so what kind of drink do you want?"  The guy that was with us was scared. He was like, "What has happened?" [laughs] I told him, "Oh we were just having a debate. I never said, 'You stupid idiot. We never insulted each other.'"

It [anger] can be expressed. I know at the end of the day, I love you [and] you're my best friend, and okay, we'll see who is right on Google [laughs].

BA: What do you hope people gain from this project?

SC: To definitely be more generous with themselves. To stop, if you're not in a relationship or if you've been single and never married, or if you're single and divorced, to not see it as a failure [and] to see it as, 'I've had these moments that I've enjoyed in my life.' And just stop right there. We put way too much emphasis on something we don't know if we really want. Just think of how many couples  get married with the idea to have kids but they can't have kids. Just think if you placed so much empahsis on if you want kids or if you don't want kids before you fell in love, you wouldn't have ever been with this person. I think we do that a lot. We have this checklist where if you don't meet this checklist because that's what you want in life, then you can't put any significance to this. Just go with the flow.

Courtesy of Sirobe Carstafhnur

Courtesy of Sirobe Carstafhnur

If you meet someone that you connect with, enjoy the moment and see where it goes. We don't need to have such outlined goals in life. I've met so many women who don't want to have kids and are are okay with that. And then I met so many women that jumped ahead with having kids, and now it's, 'Oh, I'm not really sure that this was for me. But this is what I thought I wanted at 22. Don't get me wrong. I love my kids. But I think if somebody would have set me down and talked to me about having kids, I wouldn't have wanted the same thing'. We make all these decisions based on things we haven't experienced yet, or even really know for sure [if that's] what we want.

[It's also for] just entertainment, just something to read. [You can] take a few minutes to enjoy it and keep that feeling with you.

[I also want people] to be open to different types of love. If you haven't found the one that's okay, or if you have found the one that's great. So everything is different. And you're no better or less if you're in a relationship or not in a relationship

Sirobe Carstafhnur currently resides in NYC and works as an architect. When’s she not constructing interiors for commercial buildings, you can find her writing about her many interest or traveling. Follow Sirobe on Instagram here