Off the blog for the rest of this week. Back next week.
Off the blog for the rest of this week. Back next week.
“There are some things you can’t understand yet. Your life will be a great and continuous unfolding.”
― Cheryl Strayed, Tiny 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.
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.
The bubble next to your name on Gchat is green, a symbol that I would have once fixated upon, all of the potentially witty openings two-stepping through my head until I finally typed one and clicked “Enter.” But, today, I just notice it next to all of the other green bubbles. I decide to say something. I jokingly call you an old man because we both just had birthdays, and I know it’s safe to say something sans radio silence in return because you recently emailed me to wish me a happy one.
I keep trying to remember the time, that time, when I had this unhealthy infatuation with you. When I made you t-shirts on Zazzle with sarcastic sayings and tried not to pop a triple axle when you announced you were visiting. I keep trying to remember what it felt like to feel butterflies, to feel my heart thump in the middle of my chest at the sound of your voice or the flash of your name on my phone. I keep trying to remember. But, my heart does not thump. The butterflies do not soar. So, I’m only left wondering why was it so different back then? And why did I care so much? And how does time heal us in ways that we do not even recognize?
We exchanged banter for a few minutes before it was time to return to our respective lives. We joked that we won’t talk again for the next year, but if history is any indicator, that joke is beyond true. A few minutes passed and you asked if I’m still writing. I said absolutely, and that is when I finally felt something, when I felt this tinge of goodness shoot through my veins. That was when I felt the butterflies. That was when my heart went thump. That was when I realized how beautiful it is to be known for something you love. Something you’re building. Something you’re sweating your ass off for. Not something or someone you’re chasing. Not texts or phone calls or romances built on wishing wells. But, something you love. Something you’ve created. Something that is all your own.
My writing has surfaced as a topic of conversation with many men who fall somewhere into the love/like/lust division. Sometimes, it’s a directive: “Don’t write about me.” Other times it’s a more indirect reference to my ambition: “Tyece, not everybody can be like you.” One time it was an email after we parted ways referring to me as the “Twenties Unscripted writer.” And, sometimes, it’s just an innocent query: “Are you still writing?” I’ve had these conversations on couches, in cars, sprawled across sheets. But, perhaps what puts me most at ease is that I’ve had these conversations where my writing has bubbled up to the top. My writing and I, the inseparable package. Till death do us part. In the words of Lupe Fiasco, wherever I go, she goes.
It’s nice to have that. Because, I am not one for love these days. I’m hardly one for like. Depending on the week, I may be one for lust. I know that time usually makes two people strangers. I know that time heals hearts, but it also kills connections. I know that the same body language I used to speak with some people is no longer my native tongue. I know that my heart no longer pitter patters in the exact same rhythm that it used to for some men. In most cases, it does not pitter patter at all. But, despite all of that, I know that my writing has always been there. It has cemented itself as this pervasive force in my world. It is my identity, my catharsis, my ladder out of the trenches. It is the one thing left to speak about when time has made us strangers and we’ve run out of things to say. It is there. Because, I put it there. It’s the one thing left when everyone else is gone.
Performed at Busboys and Poets, 14th and V, 10.14.14.
I’ve been trying to decide how best to write about how much Roxane Gay’s “Bad Feminist” blew my motherfucking mind. I haven’t figure it out yet. But, I decided to sprinkle some of the quotes from the book throughout this post.
“Well, how much of a feminist are you?”
That was the question up for discussion a few weeks ago while I was talking to a friend. The circumstances of this conversation as well as the anonymous friend I’m referencing aren’t too important. And, by “aren’t too important,” I mean I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you. I’m not sure how we landed on a discussion asking me to qualify my feminism, but it caught me a bit off guard. I paused and stumbled my way through a response that I’m sure didn’t make any sense. Then, the conversation transitioned to something less daunting, probably the infamous Kanye West/Sway rant–something we could both agree was unquestionably awesome.
“I’m not the only outspoken woman who shies away from the feminist label, who fears the consequences of accepting the label.”–Roxane Gay
But, that question stuck with me, as did my shaky reply. In the few years that I’ve identified as a feminist, it hasn’t taken long to realize that my beliefs will be questioned, investigated and challenged. It has taken much time to realize that introducing feminism into a conversation can be like cocking a loaded gun. I am adjusting to being the annoying and overly-opinionated friend at any gathering, the one who has to brace herself for a few eye rolls or exasperated sighs when I ask someone not to call women “hoes” casually.“It’s hard to be told to lighten up because if you lighten up any more, you’re going to float the fuck away.” –Roxane Gay
But, feminism is a truth I have yet to learn to stand in. I sit in it. Sitting in it is pretty comfortable. But, I have yet to plant my feet on the solid ground of it all, which means I tense up when people test me. Which is often. And, too often I get caught up in what I can only refer to as the fuckery of feminism when everyone has a pissing contest over whose feminism is superior or right (cue the recent bell hooks panel.) The fuckery of feminism distracts me. Throws me off. Makes me doubt myself and stammer even more when asked to “defend” my beliefs. I find myself having to separate beliefs from people, opinions from judgment, someone else’s truth from my own.“I feel I am not as committed as I need to be, that I am not living up to feminist ideals because of who and how I choose to be.” –Roxane Gay
As I write this, I’m listening to B.o.B’s “Throwback”, a song that proudly proclaims, “Two hands when she on, like a scooter/she told me she wish she knew me sooner.” I love this song. I’ve played it on repeated many nights while tipsily twerking in my apartment. And, yet, I consider myself a feminist.
“I would rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all.” –Roxane Gay
I don’t come from the school of thought that you must toss around words like “patriarchy” or phrases like “male gaze” to qualify your feminism. Yes, those words are part of the rhetoric, but that isn’t how I got here. I didn’t get here because I really loved my introductory women’s studies course, nor because I am well-versed in the traditional feminist canon. I am trying to educate myself as my views evolve. I’m trying to read and smarten up on the many women who made it possible for me to even wear a “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people” t-shirt. But, I also recognize I got here because of my own experiences. The wrongs done against me and how I chose to reconcile them. The way I started to see the world after that same world started to rear its ugly head.
“The past is always with you. Some people want to be protected from this truth.” –Roxane Gay
So, when someone asks me, “How much of a feminist are you?”, it’s difficult not spill my life’s history, not to explain the tangled thorns of my feminist roots. Most times, I just smile and say it is a more recent development–which answers the “When did you become a feminist?” question, but does nothing to qualify my feminism. Maybe next time, I will say on a scale of barely-there to my-bra-has-been-burning-in-ashes-for-awhile, all of the above. I’ll say either you are or you aren’t. I’ll say that I am not going to be another feminist trying to police other feminists or prescribe some narrow definition to the word. I’ll say that I am a feminist, and that is where the sentence deserves to end. Direct all other questions to my attorney.
“We don’t all have to believe in the same feminism. Feminism can be pluralistic so long as we respect the different feminisms we carry with us, so long as we give enough of a damn to try to minimize the fractures among us.”–Roxane Gay