Which Woman Are You?

October 30, 2014

bio-pictureGuest post by Eboni of Keep Calm and Keep Yourself

I was scrolling through my Instagram timeline and found an interesting quote: “Other women are not my competition, I stand with them not against them.” It was a great quote and, of course, had thousands of likes. But, it really got me thinking. Is this quote really something that we as women abide by, or do we just “pretend” that we are all equally proud of one another, standing together holding hands singing Kumbaya? Come on now, you know that’s ridiculous.

If we as women are not “competing” then why is it that we tend to not go out to the club with girls who are “uglier then us,” thinking that men will steer clear? But on the other hand, we won’t go out with girls prettier than us because we think they will steal all the attention. Sometimes we even purposely go out with girls we think are ugly just to feel prettier. Sadly, this competitive nature gets even more pathetic.

Ever feel better about your life just by talking about another woman whose life is currently in shambles?  Ever compared your Facebook pictures to another woman’s – feeling skinny just because your high school girlfriend gained some weight? What about when you ask your friends what they are wearing out, just so you’re not outdone by their outfits? The list goes on and on.

The saddest part of this whole topic is that it’s not just young women who do this to one another – it’s every woman. Women, no matter what age, continue to judge, degrade and insult one another just to feel better about themselves.

My mother’s best friend, who is almost 60 and a very large woman, told my mom that sometimes her friends won’t eat out in public with her – simply because people tend to stare at her or give her bad service at restaurants. She then explained that she’s felt that way for years and that it still hurts her feelings.

The truth of the matter is that we do compete with other women. We talk about each other and get jealous of one another – whether it’s our best friend, a celebrity or the girl on the dance floor at the club. We roll our eyes when the girl with the big booty gets the most attention and whisper to our friends about the pretty girl on campus who “supposedly” slept with multiple football players – because this girl can’t just be a pretty girl that a lot of guys are attracted to – she’s got to be a hoe.

If we as women would stop trying to constantly one-up each other, we could do some amazing things within our society. We can put an end to the light skin vs. dark skin controversy and start really supporting one another, instead of hating on each other’s success behind closed doors. We as black women can stop looking disgusted when we see a white woman with one of “our black men” because frankly, that’s her man and there’s nothing we can say or do about it. Instead of being jealous about interracial dating and wishing our black men would come on home, we should just accept it and start dating other races. Everyone else has embraced interracial dating – why can’t we?

womanI'mcalledtobeSupporting other women is not a true desire but it’s a duty. It’s something we must do even when we don’t want to. Compare it to loving everyone and turning the other cheek. We go to church every Sunday and say we follow these spiritual principles but the minute we are disrespected, we are ready to fight and turn into completely different people. “Ugh, I hate that hoe other there.”

Which type of woman are you – a lover or a hater? Because, you can’t be both.

We should start complimenting each other, like Tyece from “Twenties Unscripted” said in her  post “Why Women Need to Look Out For Other Women.” Force yourself to go up to the girl with the big booty and compliment her on her outfit. Walk up to the pretty girl that you once called a hoe and tell her she’s got a beautiful smile. Sit down and eat with any woman, no matter what she looks like. Who cares if people stare? Support your best friend in every way – even if she’s getting married and your fiancé left you for another woman. It sometimes hurts to love and abstain from jealousy, but the more you make it a habit the easier it will be.

The most important thing to understand is that only weak-minded, unstable and insecure women hate on other women. We are all fighting the same fight. We have to know who we are and the type of women we are called to be. We have to stop worrying about other women and start worrying about the only woman we can control – ourselves.

About Keep Calm and Keep Yourself 

Keep Calm and Keep Yourself is a women’s wellness website and blog that helps women build healthy relationships and offers products that make women feel a little more beautiful. The blog explores popular relationship and dating topics and the online store provides women with revolutionary cosmetic products that improve the natural body’s look and feel.

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Everything Isn’t Meant For Public Consumption

October 29, 2014

I have this thing about people who can’t get off their fucking phones.

I know. I’m 25 years old. I should fully advocate for everyone around me being hyper-connected and super-glued to Twitter, representing what my generation is all about.

But, I really have this thing about people who can’t get off their fucking phones.

I mentioned this pure, white hot rage about those people who can’t manage to look up from their phones to my best friend awhile ago. She replied, “Some people don’t think something happened unless it’s documented.”

Before I ascend my soapbox, I should say that I spend a great deal of my time wired, either via phone or my laptop (these days it’s mostly my laptop because my decrepit iPhone 4 is on its last leg and I would be better off with a carrier pigeon.) I turn to my phone when I’m bored, when I’m waiting for my food at Noodles and Company, when I’m standing in line at Target, when I have a strong urge to read Tila Tequila’s Wikipedia page..whenever.

Outside of those examples, I clearly spend a great deal of time documenting my own life on this blog. It wasn’t until I took a week off from writing publicly that this idea of having discretion about what we share and what we keep private started to really hit me. During my week off, I realized I had not written for myself in months. I could not think of a single thing I produced that wasn’t posted on the blog or at least shipped off to someone’s email inbox to get their thoughts.

As blogger Abby Rose so eloquently said, “Blogging, if you’re not careful, can turn into one masturbatory verbal fest.” I definitely believe in the power of blogs and self-created platforms. But, I know Abby Rose’s words all too well–the feeling that the only person getting any benefit from your words is, well, you. And, there’s a different way writers approach the work we know will ultimately be tossed into the Internet stratosphere for any one to see. We are more careful. We select our words gingerly. We think about things like adjectives and verbs, semi-colons and commas.

But, writing for yourself is what allows you to maintain your reckless abandon as a writer. It’s the chance to write wildly, freely, without any fucks to give. It’s the opportunity to write the things that aren’t politically correct, to say the things that you know make you a pretty vile human being, to purge all the nastiness and ugliness that you live with, even when you want to believe otherwise. Writing for yourself is what really makes you a writer–writing the things that do not require any validation from the peanut gallery in order to believe the value of those words.

Unfortunately, social media has twisted how we live, and now it seems as though every little thought, every musing, every experience, every question, every heartbreak, every bad day, every great day, every lamentation, every second deserves to be documented. But, consuming all the minutiae of everyone else’s lives is straight up poison. Consuming the minutiae of other people’s lives non-stop is the quickest route to feeling like a sack of shit for no apparent reason. I’m done with the voluntary cyanide gulp of social media comparison.

Only after having lived by the “Everything Must Be Documented” adage for too long did I learn how beautiful and good it feels to keep some things close to your heart. I now believe in purposeful discretion, with my work and relationships. I now understand that tweeting off a vision for a project is like letting a sparrow fly too soon. Now I know the sugary sweet feeling of keeping my biggest, craziest, wildest dreams clutched tightly to my chest, or at least only known within my inner tribe, trusting that they will not leak my shit.

I also now realize that Twitter will always be there, but people and my time with them is not guaranteed. Now, I leave my phone in my purse when I am in the company of friends or family. I give people a lot more of my attention and I give Twitter a lot less. I remember what someone said long after I can recall what they tweeted. I remember the way someone smiled or frowned or paused or cried much more than I remember someone’s avatar. I’m addicted to one-on-one conversations, the hearty ones you fall into with another person over dinner or a few glasses of wine or just the recognition that sometimes it’s beautiful to speak and truly be heard. The recognition that there’s a dearth of those conversations in today’s world and we want to savor them before they become extinct. The recognition that we all spend the greater fraction of our days competing for attention, shouting above the social media babble. So, I like listening to people. Pontificating about politics or religion or feminism (when a brave soul is willing to engage me in that last topic.) Debating what was truly Kanye’s best album. Waxing poetic about our dysfunctional families. I’m still not above rattling off something completely inane in 140 characters or less, but I have also learned the pricelessness of putting down my fucking phone. I have learned that not every detail of my life is meant for public consumption.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Sometimes It Feels Good to Shatter.

October 28, 2014

It’s 2:15 p.m. and I’m set to give a presentation with one of my coworkers in fifteen minutes. We’re going to run through it once before the meeting. We’ve been working on this idea for weeks, pitching it to folks and tweaking it along the way. This pitch in a few minutes is the most important one of all. We’re walking down the hall, Powerpoint decks in hand, when I turn to her and say in an almost inaudible voice, “I’m unraveling.”

She tells me to walk with her to another room. She closes the door and the minute I say, “It feels like everything is falling apart,” I burst into one million ugly, icy tears. If I were a Real Housewife, my fellow housewives would all sit in their respective confessionals and say I had a nervous breakdown.

I’m not unraveling because of the presentation. Instead, I have been unraveling for days, weeks, damn near the entire year for reasons I could not see until now. And, now I can’t even pretend to keep it together. Every part of my well-being has uncoiled rapidly. The strings are untied. The pieces no longer neatly fit together. And all the king’s horses and all the king’s men probably would have a shitty time trying to put me back together again.

My coworker lets me spill for about seven minutes until I tie myself back together, Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer and all, and head to our meeting.

What do I say after just up and leaving my blog for the first time in two years? I say that sometimes it feels good to shatter.

What do I say after canceling an event four days before it’s scheduled, even after working for six weeks to pull it together? I say that sometimes it feels good to shatter.

What do I say after going off the grid abruptly and unintentionally? I say that sometimes it feels good to shatter.

Sometimes it feels so fucking good to shatter.

All year, I have been feeling like a windshield that was first hit by a pebble and left with a tiny chip. And all year, the damage from that tiny chip has been spreading, jagged and long cracks extending through my spirit until everything finally broke. I broke. My heart broke. My spirit broke. It all just split and nothing felt better than knowing I did not need to wait for it to break anymore. Nothing felt more reassuring than thinking about how to repair myself instead of just holding my breath and praying that I did not break.

The night after I opted to take a break from writing on the blog, I woke up at 3 a.m. with agonizing stomach pains. What else does one do at 3 a.m. when afflicted with a stomach issue aside from watch reruns of How I Met Your Mother? Well, you check Twitter and your email. Naturally. I noticed an emailed titled, “Hey” from one of my writer boos, Sheryl. Sheryl could sense that shit was hitting the fan. And, in the strangest way, that felt good. It felt good for someone to see that when a writer stops writing, it’s not just a coincidence; it is a cry for help.

Sheryl and I exchanged a few emails. In one of them, she said something that stuck with me:

I think we can get so caught up in our dreams that we don’t take time to nurture ourselves…
Don’t be afraid to just take care of you. Everything will still be there when you come back. Because as your sister said, you’re more than a brand. You’re a person and you can’t do any of it if you’re not well.

I think to most people, I did a lot this year. Wrote a lot. Created a lot. Produced a lot. Hosted a lot. A lot, a lot, a hell of a lot. But, unbeknownst to most people, and even to myself, I did all of those things at the expense of my well-being. I didn’t even get the time to enjoy the things I wrote, created, produced or hosted because I became a victim of my own success. I only started seeing this space as a gateway to making my dreams come true. I stopped seeing it as what it always has been and always will be– a comfortable and wonderful place where I can visit, unpack my bags and stay awhile. I completely stopped taking care of myself. I stopped writing for myself. I stopped doing things for myself.

But, the Universe has a way of stopping us even when we think we can’t be stopped. I’ve been forced to evaluate many things this year–friendships, my relationship to social media, the need to continue healing even three years after my rape and, now, my relationship to my own work and writing. All of those things are things I assumed I had completely under control, and all of those assumptions were challenged in ways that shook, stung and shocked me. The Universe did not wake me up in a gentle way. It did not walk over to my bedside and say, “Tyece? Tyece? Come on, honey, it’s time to get up.” No. The Universe came over to me, shook me once in a dizzying jerk and said, “Tyece, wake the fuck up.”

I get to return to this beautiful and forgiving space blown to bits and better because of it. I am not whole. I do not have my shit together. My journey is not complete. But, I get to keep telling stories and sharing with other women who are also putting their pieces together over and over again. If my heart didn’t break and my world didn’t crash and the birds didn’t stop singing, I’d probably run out of semi-interesting shit to write. I have always learned more from my valleys than my peaks. I think that is how it should be, if for no other reason to humble us. To force us to slow down, to wake up, to take better care of our fragile, sensitive, oh-so-human selves. To remind us that sometimes it feels so good to shatter.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Hiatus

October 20, 2014

Off the blog for the rest of this week. Back next week.

Xoxo,
Tyece

The Insecurities We All Carry

“There are some things you can’t understand yet. Your life will be a great and continuous unfolding.” 
― Cheryl StrayedTiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

“I think that outward confidence is just a projection of his insecurities,” I said to a friend the other day. It was the kind of sentence that rolled off my tongue a little too quickly after years of therapy and self-analysis. It was also the kind of sentence that made me feel like a little shit, aware that I am in no place to assume how someone else’s insecurities manifest themselves when I have a difficult time managing my own.

I’ve been having a tough year and I haven’t felt that great about myself or my life for awhile. I keep thinking that the tide will turn and I’ll quit feeling so shitty. I keep thinking maybe it’s a bad dose of PMS every month and next month, the anxiety won’t settle in my veins like cement. I ran into someone the other night at the bar as we all reunited for Homecoming Weekend and she said, “I love your blog. You be going through some shit.” I laughed and thanked her, but I wondered and worried that maybe that is what this blog has become, just me going through some shit. I wondered and worried that maybe that’s who I’ve become, just a woman going through some shit without any productive place to store all of her insecurities.

Insecure [adj.]  subject to fears, doubts, etc.; not self-confident or assured: an insecure person 

2. not confident or certain; uneasy; anxious: He was insecure about the examination.

3.not secure; exposed or liable to risk, loss, or danger: an insecure stock portfolio.

4. not firmly or reliably placed or fastened: an insecure ladder.

When I look at all of the aforementioned definitions of the word “insecure”, they each resonate with some aspect of my current state. I don’t know if people consider me to be confident. On good days, I believe I am. But on not-so-good days, of which there have been plenty lately, I worry. I stress. I doubt. I don’t believe. I watched an interview where Vivica A. Fox told Oprah she once was not in a place to receive praise because she was on a “treadmill of success.” Or, maybe it was a treadmill to success. Either way, I thought, “Wow, yes. Finally someone putting my thoughts into words.” I haven’t been able to fully receive other people’s encouragement lately because the ground I stand on sometimes feels so damn rocky. I want to hear them. I want to believe them. Some days, I just don’t.

Some days, I get caught up in the highlight reel of other people’s lives via Instagram and Twitter. Some days, I see people’s dreams manifesting themselves in real, true, lasting ways and I fret that maybe I will always just be that girl who has that blog. I worry that I want this blog to be more than what it is. I want this blog to be a gateway to other things, but I worry that maybe I’m not working hard enough to make those other things happen. I worry that all I am are likes. Retweets. Social currency that has started to feel so fleeting it nauseates me to even pay attention to those numbers. I worry that my breakthrough happened a long time ago and that this is all there is.

Some days, I’m insecure about the little things. The rapid pace at which I speak and how easy it is for people to miss what I’m saying. The way my lips dry out like clock work. Using the word “like” too much in my sentences. Sweating more than the law should allow.

Other days, I’m insecure about the big things. The trajectory of my career. The outlook of my love life. How and when the stars plan to align for me, if that is indeed a part of their plan.

Some days, I’m insecure about the monumental things. The scars. The healing I have yet to do. When I will be able to love fully, healthily, wholly, despite all of my fuckedupness. Some days I’m insecure about how loudly the beast inside of me roars anytime I’m triggered and how idiotic I feel anytime I assume that beast was long dead.

Some days, I don’t want to reach the end of a blog post. I don’t want to stop hearing the pitter patter of the keys because it means the alternative is hearing the beating drum of incessant thoughts inside my head. I want to just keep writing. Pitter patter instead of thudfuckingthud.

But, on the better days, I remember that my insecurities are my hidden gems. I remember what my sister tells me every so often– “You’re not Tyunscripted. You’re Tyece. You’re a person.” I remember that without insecurities, I couldn’t be vulnerable, and without vulnerability, I could not be a writer. I remember that I am not who or what people think I am just as a result of pouring my life on a screen year after year, whether those perceptions are for better or worse. But, I remember that I am everything that happens in between the blog posts, in between the paragraphs, in between the filled pages. I am the moments late at night, awake with only my thoughts and the dark sky. I am the moments early in the morning, before my feet hit the floor to scurry through another day. My life isn’t happening on the page. The filled page is merely a reflection. A way to process. But, my life is happening in the footnotes. It’s happening in the margins. It’s happening in the hidden spaces that nobody else gets to see or read or feel or touch.

When I said “his outward confidence is just a projection of his insecurities” I could have been talking about myself. I could have been talking about anyone. Because, some days, that is all we have. Feign confidence in hopes that maybe soon enough we’ll actually be confident. But, our insecurities make us real. They make us raw. They make us open and susceptible to emotion. They make us human. As much as I would love to be superwoman, my insecurities will always remind me I am skin and bones, guts and heart. The insecurities force me to slow down, to meet myself with more grace and compassion, forgiveness and understanding. Grace and compassion. Forgiveness and understanding. Grace and compassion. Forgiveness and understanding. The only ways to manage the insecurities we all carry.

Xoxo,
Tyece