• Mattie Jo Cowsert

Single and Looking for Purpose

On the Island of Single





Just kidding. A lot happens here.

After saying farewell to Catholic and getting over my terrible behavior with model boy, I realized something that would shape so much of who I am now: I will not be married having blissful, guilt-free sex by age 23. For many women in my generation, this is totally okay. Because they were 1) having sex by age 16 and 2) never planning to be married by age 23. But for me, I had subconsciously planned an entire life around being married young and getting to have all of the sex. That’s what Christians do! That’s how you Christ follow! Focusing and building a career and getting married in your 30s was for people who didn’t trust God would just “work out the details”. The faithless. Shit.

Time for some real life Mattie Jo self-discovery.

Discipline in THE WORD

For most of my life I was a very disciplined person (And I still am to an extent. About some things. But like right now I skipped a dance class because I wanted to finish my latte and write this blog). I attribute this to my childhood experiences in youth group where we learned over and over the importance of self-discipline. Discipline yourself in The Word. Discipline yourself in sobriety. Discipline yourself in guarding your heart. Discipline yourself in learning a slackline walk. But under no circumstances should you practice discipline at a potluck, McDonalds, or any other situation regarding food. Indulge oh Christians! For Jesus did not talk to us about being morbidly obese (For the record. He didn't talk to us about masturbation or being gay, either. But Christians are very concerned with my gay masturbating habits. I said that wrong. Oh well). Did I just go on a rant about fat Christians? Not apologizing.


I was supposed to be all in control of my behavior, hormones, thoughts all the time. And if I didn't succeed, I probably wasn't REALLY trusting God with my WHOLE SELF. That idea was so troubling. I really wanted to keep my shit in check! And I did! I was valedictorian of my class. I played volleyball, track, and cross country, all while maintaining an eating disorder (That is some real discipline). I was in band and show choir and the play and I always managed to have a full time job during the summers and do something theatre related for at least 2 weeks. My senior year I woke up at 5 a.m. ON MY OWN to do cross country workouts ON MY OWN because I had play practice after school. In college I maintained a 3.9 GPA, always had a job, trained for two half marathons, and didn't have sex. Listen my point is, I was really good at this discipline thing. Christianity had successfully pushed me to my TYPE A brink. Near the end of college, I started to break down.

All My Friends are Whores (not really it’s the title of a musical theatre song)

While wrapping up Junior year, I had pretty much only one (thousand) thing(s) on my mind: Do not spend another summer in Branson, Missouri. I didn't want to be in god forsaken Branson/Marriottville (Really. He forgot you guys. As soon as you built a SECOND building with a giant stringed instrument protruding from a shopping mall, god was like “I give up they have lost their damn minds) one more day of my life. So I applied for the TENT theatre marketing team and did that for the next two summers. It's basically slave labor but they feed us and give us rooms to sleep so we put up with it. #standards. Anyways, I moved into "Funvilla" (the resident hall of Sunvilla on MSU's campus. The university wanted to tear it down because it's awful but it's one of the tallest buildings in Springfield so the city won't let them. It's 14 stories) with a bunch of other actors and crazy creative types. I lived with my friend Natalie Dickter. But for the sake of brevity, let's call her Nat Dick. Natalie is a gem. We laughed and binge drank and drunk ate and exercised a lot my first summer. One time someone had Nat do an impression of me. She made a giant fart noise into her hands. This was also the summer Camille Hendricks (best friend) discovered she was allergic to gluten. Which was really unfortunate because we all loved eating pizza and cupcakes and complaining about how fat we were.

Listen my point is, I was really good at this discipline thing. Christianity had successfully

pushed me to my TYPE A brink. Near the end of college, I started to break down.

That summer I met this kid named David and gave him the nickname Whims. Short for whimsical. Because his job title was "manager of fun" and he was (is) super gay. T'was also the summer I got Shingles. SHINGLES. That disease old people get before they get cancer or something. I got it. The doctor told me I couldn't wear a bra. Or sweat. So I walked around in a silk nightgown I bought a vintage store in downtown Springfield for 18 dollars. We called it the house coat. Tent Theatre loved the house coat. They also loved that I had shingles. They would write songs about me. Including but not limited to: All My Shingle Ladies, Shingle All The Way...The shingles eventually went away but the songs remained (Later that year I got poison oak on my vagina. This was God saying "stay away world cuz bitch is THIRSTY." Or at least that's my guess). It was also during this summer that I started fully embracing my gay boyfriends. They were the best! They mostly found me hilarious and mocked my flaws in a very loving, sassy way. And they liked boys MORE than I did. I didn't think that was possible! This was a wonderful dynamic. I became good friends with a few underclassman girls because they were my roommates and fellow marketing teammates. They taught me how to make cake in a cup. I am forever indebted to them for this.

Meeting these people and having these experiences in college was the beginning of me doing exactly what I, ME, MATTIE JO wanted to do all of the time. I hadn’t really gotten a chance to even know what I liked to do or who I liked to hang out with. I made pennies and lifelong friends. I had friends who reminded me everyday why I was awesome. They actually liked being around me. Turns out I'm a pretty magnetic (polarizing) personality.

At the end of the Tent Theatre season I took a trip to NYC because what else would I do? I did all of the things.

Yes. And...And...

So I'm back in NYC! And this time staying on the luxurious Upper West Side with my brother’s raised-on-the Upper-East-Side-Gossip-Girl-style ex girlfriend from college. This makes a difference because I am so close to everything. No traipsing to Washington Heights or South Slope or Central Harlem after my late night shenanigans. So I was able to do a lot. Oh and also she would dress me like a New Yorker. I didn’t bring proper clothing because I didn’t realize how insufferably hot it gets here. Now it makes total sense why the rich people leave in the summer. I literally had visible butt sweat on a dress. Miserable. Anyways she dressed me cute and all

the boys loved me.

Here’s me at a club dressed in the sexiest dress I’ve ever worn to date. Check out those hamstrings though.

I’ll let you guess which of the two tall, Scandinavian-looking guys I was referring to.

One day I had to go get a spot for a Movie on the Pier and meet up with this dude I'd never met. He was a friend of a friend. I didn't like the idea of sitting for 3 hours on a park lawn with a dude I didn't know until I saw him of course. Tall, blue eyes, well dressed. Straight out of that Scandinavian fashion mag I basically masturbate to. He was gorgeous. Later that week we all went to a club and I looked very sexy/uncomfortable in a nice tight fitted black dress I could barely walk in (thanks UES ex gf). I crushed on him from Missouri for a solid year. Well now he and I are good friends. We bar hopped in Williamsburg and watched Snapchat stories hungover the other weekend. I threw up in his bathroom and then we got bagels. Anyways. How could this amazing friendship exist if I hadn't said yes to sitting on a lawn for 3 hours with a stranger?

Another evening I was invited last minute to this New York Musical Theatre Festival show with my (now Broadway producer) friend, Jonathan. Jonathan is important because he is responsible for so much of my very memorable Broadway experiences. I met him at summer camp when I was 14. We were in a very infantile version of Dancing At Lughnasa. He still tells people I'm an amazing actress. I love him for this. Anyway, after this NYMF show we meet this other producer (who now has a few Tonys and has also invited me to a few first previews/opening nights. One time he made me go pick up his Drama Desk awards. We opened them in Jamba Juice).

"Why don't you and Jon just come with me to the NYMF closing party?" WHAT. Well okay cool BUT WHAT WILL I WEAR (cue UES ex-gf).

This party was an open bar (NOTE TO ALL MY MARRIED FRIENDS IN THE MIDWEST: big events without open bars are usually lame events. I understand you're holy or whatever. But Jesus's first miracle was keeping the party goin so let's all just relax and get a little drunksies. #DrunkLikeJesus). I, however, did not enjoy much alcohol because I was so overwhelmed by "oh this guy represents this famous person, this is someone you should really know because they might have a Tony in 7 years, blah blah NETWORKING". I was so nervous I would make a poor impression by being too this or not enough that. Then Jonathan went to the bathroom. And I stood alone looking pretty awk I guess because this beautiful dude came up to me and

Beautiful Dude: Are you okay? You look distressed.

Me: oh no I'm fine I'm just waiting for a friend

(3 more beautiful men join)

Beautiful Men: well you don't look like you're having fun. Do you wanna dance?

Me: 😳

Then I danced the night away with a very young cast of a show called Trouble where I think the plot line was "oh no life sucks and we're all naked ANGST." We went to a diner afterward. A few left to go do molly I think. I don't know I haven't seen them since. Maybe they died.

No. I Just checked Twitter. They're still alive. I have, however, seen a good amount of these kids since. One of the girls is now my good friend and fitness instructor. We've done a few readings for the music director of that show. The music director also became my pretend boyfriend for 2 years and was the source of a lot of great nights, frustrating DTRs (define the relationship. I learned that term from my closest Christian friends. They like to define EVERYTHING), and stress. But also great nights (tall men. They're the worst/best thing in the world. Can I get an amen, T. Swift?). Another one of those guys took something from me and then hooked me up with the drummer of one of my favorite bands to make up for taking that thing from me I guess. I follow the rest of them on Instagram.

Here’s me sweaty from dancing with beautiful men. You can’t see my outfit but I was in a

Gucci Romper and a black blazer and I looked hot as hell. None of of these outfits are mine.

Later that week I went out with all of them to this really lame bar called the DL. We all got super drunk anyway. This one dude in a really small tank top and giant biceps who recently played Fiyero in Wicked was allllll about me. We madeout and he tried to get me to come home with him. The number of times this has happened to me, I could not count. Why do men think you want to hangout in their bedrooms in the same day you've just learned of their existence? At the time I felt really bad for turning down such a sweet invite. "We'll cuddle and I'll make us breakfast in the morning." Awwwww. Now I know what that actually means: There is very little cuddling involved and they might buy you coffee. Later that week he took me on a little date and showed me this web show he liked to film for fun where he interviews all his fellow Broadway famous friends. I thought it was super funny. That web series is really popular now and is featured on Broadway World. He recently shot an audition video for me. He asked how it's possible that I'm single. I told him because I want to be (cue Cheetah Girls GIRL POWER). Really it's because I never like anyone.

This actor also happens to be roommates and best friends with Samira Wiley

aka Poussay from Orange is the New Black. I didn't watch the show at the time

so I wasn't a fangirl. I was just like "congrats on a job!" Then we smoked weed

and she complimented my knowledge of R&B music circa 2004.

Yeah so one time I smoked weed with Samira Wiley.

Towards the middle of the trip I saw a Broadway show and later that night talked to the lead at a bar. My gay boyfriend and I ended up going to his apartment for an “after party.” This actor also happens to be roommates and best friends with a pretty well-known actress from Orange is the New Black. I didn't watch the show at the time so I wasn't a fangirl. I was just like "congrats on a job!" Then we smoked weed and she complimented my knowledge of R&B music circa 2004. Yeah so one time I smoked weed with an OINTB star.

I know what you're thinking, reader. You're thinking "wow! Your pursuit of holy orders is really taking off!" Yes my next entry is about how I considered being a nun to recover from my sin-filled trip to NYC. But of course it was only a ploy to coerce Catholic into loving me again. After that you're thinking "why is she putting all this on the interwebs?" The answer to that is I hope someday I'm famous and people will really want to know this stuff about me and find it like super relatable. For now it's just oversharing. Pretty Mama If You’re Single

Here's my point. Something they didn't teach me in church was how to be single. So I started figuring it out on my own. And not with one of those "LUCKY YOU! YOU GET TO BE LIKE THE APOSTLE PAUL" single books. No. It was by not beating myself up over the fact that my personality gets me into some really exciting (and sometimes dangerous) situations. And then navigating those situations. "Do it for the story" rang so true during that summer.

Here's a pic of me and Gavin atop an Upper East Side Penthouse apartment.

I would later work in that apartment as a personal assistant. Gossip Girl life IS REAL.

And look, I didn't just go out and meet guys while I was in NYC, Mr. Judgy Pants (which is totally cool if that’s what I wanted to do! #hairflip)! I also sat front row at the closing show of Memphis because aforementioned producer got me in. I walked the High Line and ate Mr. Softee icecream for the first time. I returned to my dearest French Woods Summer camp that started all my theatre dreams. I did a jam session with the composer of some really great songs I used in my senior recital. I ran into Kim Cattrall walking off a elevator. Visited the Bronx Botanical Gardens (I haven't been to the Bronx since). Drank bubble tea. Rode the Ferris wheel at Coney Island. Saw War Horse and got to go backstage. And saw Bring It On with a young lady with whom I attended Missouri Fine Arts academy as the lead. Climbed atop an Upper East Side penthouse apartment to see a view of the City. I had the time of my life.

I was finally getting to know myself. I wasn't boy crazy. I was pretty and fun so boys were attracted to me. Shoot me. (I agree. I think I'm really pretty). I wanted to take in every experience possible. Even if it got me into a little bit of trouble. Because that’s what you’re supposed to do as a young person. FIgure shit out. Everyone dies. So how are you going to spend your time on earth? I decided spending a night smoking weed with Samira Wiley or drunk eating at a diner with a girl who would eventually be my fitness instructor were great ways to spend some of that time. Step 1&2 of being single: Know You and Love You.

Here's me showing off my impeccable dance technique on Coney Island. #Equity

As mentioned before, I didn’t know being single in your twenties was a real life thing people actually choose. Now I’m like, shit what is the rush?! I mean I get it. Part of the urgency is the need to get laid (Maybe just get laid and not married? No? Sorry I said anything). Sure my parents always taught me to love myself and be the best version of myself. But I guess as a kid in a religious household in Missouri, I always thought that included some really handsome Christian guy helping me be the best version of myself (VOMMMMMM). And we grow together in Christ or some weird phrase only Christians use ("my flesh is just really weak right now", "let's engage in fellowship", and "I’m going to small group!" are a few others). But what happens if you decide you don't want anyone to grow with or whatever? I had only prepared for the safe, netted, monotonous lifestyle.* (The exciting version of the Christian life is being a missionary in Africa. Or Texas. Apparently you can do both). But I didn't want that. Step 3: Do some irresponsible shit before you vow monogamy. Eternal commitment is real. And so is alimony.

I don’t have anymore steps at this point. You’re gunna have to wait til I mature a little more.

Eternally Single and Other Things Jesus and I have in Common

I want it to be clear that I always wanted to do the right thing. But this was the beginning of a total lifestyle shift for me. As I continued to get to know myself and the world around me, I had to reconcile my upbringing with my current reality. I didn’t want to give a big F WORD YOU to Jesus and God. Remember, I like those 2 (yeah I know they’re the same dude or something bare with me). So I want(ed) to live a life reflecting their values. BUT HOW WAS I GUNNA DO THAT WITHOUT A HUSBAND TO BUY ME NIKE TEMPOS?

What I discovered is, I was (am) supposed to be imitating a single, homeless, vagabond, Jew from...well the jury is still out on where Jesus is from but we'll say Galilee for now. A dude who liked parties and dinners with hookers and normal people and never got married and decided to go out with a bang (#rollingthunder). A dude who was all "I'm gunna cause a ruckus wherever I go oops." A dude who was probably pretty messy. But just loved the shit out of every person he encountered. Except for the religious people who were pushing their own agenda. He did not dig those guys. And he lived only 33 years! But we know about those years because he made them count (Well. We know about when he was born and when he started performing miracles. The in between is a damn

mystery. Probably because Jesus was a little farting pervert like every other adolescent boy and no one wants to hear about that shit). I'm just still solidly confused on how Jesus became a lover of mortgages, procreation, and Chick-Fil-A. Maybe I'm just lying to myself. But I like to think that Jesus, when I get to Heaven, asks me about that time I smoked weed with that OINTB star. And then we'll talk about OINTB and how much He loves it because it brought awareness and change to how we view the marginalized, minorities, and the impoverished ie His crew. A show that gleaned light on the struggles of ALL his children. And how we need to show love to ALL his children. Even the ones who give us the heeby jeebies. I Guess I'll tell him it was pretty cool but I didn't actually get high. And he'll tell me it's okay drinking wine is more fun anyway.

So. To all my S(h)ingle ladies (and dudes too. But I feel like someone else needs to write that blog), you are not single because you're doing something wrong. Or because you have some unsettled insecurity you haven't handled that all the married women settled. You don't need a dude to help with your identity and journey. You aren't less like Jesus or more like the Apostle Paul or lost. And you do not have to fill any other role than the specific role the Creator gave you: You be YOU. You must love YOU (and others. obvs). No labels. No insecurities. No apologies.

Okay now go enjoy your day with this new life changing advice I just gave you.

* I do not think being married is easy. Or boring. Super glad lots of my friends are married. It adds another member to the mayhem. Actually one of my favorite things is seeing successful married couples. It’s fun to have hope.

#midwest #single #newyork

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