In The Name of Self-Preservation

August 29, 2014

In response to yesterday’s “Keep Writing” post, particularly the line that says, “Keep writing because it will feed your soul and preserve your peace of mind,” a (writer) friend of mine replied by saying, “Detaching will do the same. Writers have to know which their souls and peace of mind need: To keep writing or take a break.”

He made a valid point, one that did not necessarily fit with the motif of that post, but one that did align with how I am learning to approach life.

In the wake of Mike Brown’s senseless murder, I, like most of my peers, took to social media, Twitter particularly, to both vent and receive information. As the days continued on and we had more questions than answers, I felt myself withering away. As beautiful as the online community rising around the issues was, it wrung my heart to expose myself to the conversation non-stop. I’m not sure when, but I reached a definitive point where I stopped engaging in the dialogue. I still stayed informed and followed some of the conversation, but I had to break away from active involvement and voracious intake.

This idea of breaking away has become more relevant for me, ironically as the blog grows and becomes more successful.

I am now making a conscious, active and deliberate decision to engage in social media a lot less. I recently made my Instagram account private. It does nothing for the exposure or outlook of my work to have total strangers looking at my vacation pics. There is beauty and peace in vetting who receives access to certain parts of your life. I lost sight of that.

I also transformed into one of those obnoxious people who took to Twitter simply to tell Twitter I would be around a lot less. (It seemed fitting, as annoying of a concept as it is.) I still fully intend to promote my blog via the platform, toss around a few opinions and live tweet ratchet reality television on Monday nights. But, I have seen this year how social media has perilous potential to do more harm than good. I don’t want to be someone known more for irreverent tweets than substantial writing. The goal was never to be a Twitter celeb; nothing about that ephemeral relevance and success makes sense to me.

Many situations that transpired this year could have easily been avoided if I drew back from social media. I finally decided to hear the Universe out and draw back in the name of self-preservation.

Lastly, I am toying with both the content and frequency of my personal posts. This is still, and always will be, a personal blog before anything else. However, I am now in a fortunate position to infuse new voices and highlight other people’s stories; I intend to do more of that in the coming months without sacrificing the personal nucleus of this space. And while I still fully believe in the power of consistency as a blogger and my four-posts-a-week cadence, I am giving myself permission to stray from that schedule if need be. I did not write this past Wednesday and it was OK. It was more authentic not to write in that moment than it was to write. Authenticity above all else.

There are many explanations in this post and I am well-aware that I do not owe a soul any one of them. But, I am always amazed and humbled by the people who stand behind my work. I am so moved by the Twenties Unscripted community and knew that in making some of these choices, I wanted to provide a bit of insight behind them. I wanted people to know that if I do not immediately engage or reply as I so often have, there are reasons. If I do not preserve myself, which I have not always done throughout this year, there is not a blog. If I do not preserve myself, there are not any snarky posts and there are not seasonal events. If I do not preserve myself, there is not a whole and happy person who can share stories, evolve as a woman and succeed as a writer. If I do not preserve myself, there is no Twenties Unscripted and I have come far too close to seeing that happen. I don’t want that life.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Keep Writing.

August 28, 2014

“Keep writing.” That is the line one of my blog fairy godmothers Bené Viera has dropped three different times when talking to me.

It seems like such a simple concept–keep writing. It almost seems inane and absurd to tell a writer to keep writing. Unless, of course, you are a writer. Then you know how critical and revolutionary it is when someone tells you to keep writing.

A lot has happened to me and for me this year. It is difficult, nearly impossible, to sum up those things. I am still processing so many of them. The ups have not ever been without the downs, the successes have not been without some failures. I wish I could give you everything, tell you everything, make sense of everything. I cannot. Not yet. Maybe not ever. Maybe that is half of the problem, that I’ve been giving everything, telling everything, trying so hard to make sense of everything. I now know that there is a certain freedom in not having to understand it all.

This year was the first time I truly considered no longer writing the blog. This blog. My lifeblood and my baby and my everything–I was ready to light a match to it. I was ready to leave it in the abandoned wasteland of barely-launched blogs. I started to struggle with whether or not my self-exploration had turned into self-exploitation. But, most people didn’t know that because I was giving my readers every thing, every day, all the time. I was making it look easy, but it was breaking my back. I was breaking my back. I lost the zeal and the butterflies stopped arriving when it was time to churn out a piece. I was losing friends just as quickly as I was gaining readers. I was not present for my own success; I was too busy moving on to the next thing. I was building the brand and forgetting the foundation.

And a few weeks ago a woman in a coffee shop spotted my (very narcissistic) laptop background–a photo of me typing on my laptop. I know, so meta.

“Ah, the aspiring writer,” she said as she approached me.

“Ha, something like that,” I laughed.

She asked what I wrote. I told her about the blog. I don’t think she really knew what that meant, but she nodded proudly and said, “Congratulations. You’ll have books some day.”

There are things in life that happen at the most pivotal moments. There are forks in the road we don’t see ahead of time. There are signs and people and borderline eerie shit that occurs to yank us back into a reality we’ve ignored. Writing is my reality. Coffee shop woman reminded me of my own reality in the midst of my dangerous attempts to flee from it.

Keep writing. When the world starts caving in and the birds stop singing and the clouds grow grey. Keep writing when you are tired, when you are spent, when you worry you have nothing left to give. Keep writing when the letters start smearing together and your fingers feel like they are about to decay.

Keep writing when it hurts. When it aches. When it stings and when it pains. Keep writing when you cry, when you can’t sleep at night, when your heart cracks into one billion beautiful pieces. Keep writing when everyone else has given up and your best words are met with radio silence.

Keep writing when the adversity comes charging. Keep writing when the haters are hollering and waving their hands high. Keep writing when the snakes bite and the bottom feeders gnaw. Keep writing when you are under attack, when everyone’s guns are blazing, when it feels like you’re up against the wall and the firing squad has approached. Keep writing when people want to doubt you, when people can’t stand you, when people can’t fathom nor accept your success. Keep writing when people try to scramble, misconstrue and destroy your words. Keep writing when people try to scramble, misconstrue and destroy you.

Keep writing when the days are good and the sun shines and it feels like you could do it forever.

Keep writing when the days are bad and the rain pours and it feels like you will not go on.

Keep writing when you worry that you’ve said it all or fret that you’ve said it wrong.

Keep writing when it seems as though all people want to read is a good Buzzfeed listicle. Keep writing when essays have gone out of style and substance seems so yesterday. Keep writing when people lament that they do not want to see quotes on their Instagram feed, only pictures. Keep writing when it seems as though no one really wants to read.

Keep writing when the pitch gets rejected and the email gets ignored.

Keep writing when you bust your ass for exposure and the opportunity falls through.

Keep writing when it feels like you’ve run out of words or topics or new ways to begin sentences.

Keep writing when your stomach is in knots because it feels like the world is watching and you are royally fucking it up. Keep writing when it seems as though everyone has run out of pleasant things to say. Keep writing when the ugliness of humanity is taking its toll on your spirit.

Keep writing even when you don’t know what the end looks like, when you don’t know how it tastes or sounds. Keep writing when a finished manuscript seems far, far, far away. Keep writing when all of your writing feels like just things and just paragraphs and just a few people. Keep writing when the end is not close.

Keep writing when all you want to do is stop writing. That is the moment when you need to keep writing the most.

Keep writing. Someone hears you. Someone needs you. Someone believes in what you are doing and how you are doing it. But, above all, keep writing because it will feed your soul and preserve your peace of mind. Keep writing to keep your inner beauty in tact and your body out of a straitjacket. Keep writing. Do it first for you. Then do it for others. But, please, just keep writing.

Xoxo,
Tyece

The Myth of Being Fearless

August 26, 2014

I finally purchased my blogger douchebag card also known as writing a mission statement. Don’t go looking for it on this site. It’s not here. Ultimately, I can’t bring myself to be the kind of person with a “Mission” page atop my homepage as though we’re about to go fight in the Battle of Bull Run. No. This is just writing. It’s not that serious.

However, upon Emily’s recommendation, I did think it was time to anchor what I’m trying to achieve with a few words. I spent a Friday night pulling ideas together on a Keynote presentation (yes, my life is as exhilarating as it sounds.) I then spent a Saturday morning with Emily in a coffee shop picking apart words on slides titled “mission”, “audience” and “blog’s personality.” We devoted a good deal of time to coming up with four or five words to describe my ideal audience. In the past, I’ve described my audience as “observant, irreverent and unconventional women.” I like the word “irreverent” a little too much. Emily made a valid point that irreverent isn’t a word that carries the best connotation; in other words, it makes my ideal audience sound like a bunch of assholes. So we hit up thesaurus.com for a substitute.

“Fearless?” I asked her.

Before she could reply, I scoffed and said, “Ugh, that’s so ‘Cosmopolitan.’” (No, really, their motto is “Fun Fearless Female“. I am arguably only one of those things.)

We scanned the synonyms a bit more and finally landed on “courageous”. It stuck.

There are a few words, often times used in the context of feminism, that make me cringe. Empower is one. Fearless is another. I am also a flaming hypocrite who recently used both in a profile I wrote for Be Moxie…go figure. Fearless’ noun cousin “fearlessness” is also in the title of my upcoming fall event. Ok, maybe I’m not making the best case for myself but jive with me. Hypocrisy aside, I think we like to fling around the word fearless too much. It wasn’t until I sat there with Emily pontificating about my ideal audience that I realized what a crock of shit it is to say how “fearless” we are.

Earlier this year, I penned a Q&A for GG Renee Hill’s “All The Many Layers” recapping the “See. Speak. Feel.” showcase. There is a bit of that feature that I always return to when I consider fear:

Did you have any fears or insecurities leading up to the event and if so, what did you do to push through?
Yes, yes and yes. I lost A LOT of sleep over the showcase. During every stage of the planning, I worried. I worried that people would not reach out to perform or showcase their art. I worried that people would not buy tickets (and we ended up with a sold out show…go figure.) I worried that something would go horribly awry that night. That being said, I don’t know if there was anything specific I did to push through. I just felt so invested in the success of that night that it felt as though I had no choice but to push through. I got to a point where I so badly wanted to see it all come together so there was no way I could turn back. And, my money was on the line. Money will keep you invested real quick.

Dictionary.com defines fear as a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc.,whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.” 

When I look at that definition of fear, nothing about it strikes me as wrong, limiting or terrible. Fear is not toxic by itself; how we choose to respond to that fear determines its toxicity. For some people, fear is an insurmountable brick wall. For others, it’s an adrenaline rush. For some people, fear is an arrow telling them to run in the other direction. For others, it’s an arrow telling them to run in that same direction. Fear pushes and pulls each of us in varying ways.

In the context of my writing and blog, fear is what I use to push me. If I am not scared as hell about what I’m doing, there isn’t any point in doing it. If I’m not afraid, it means I haven’t set the bar high enough. I expect the fear. In fact, I wait for it. Because once it shows up, I know I’m about to pull off some shit. I know I’m about to do something important and impactful.

At midnight when my post “When Someone Says Suicide Is Selfish” went live, my heart started racing like no other. I was afraid–of the responses, of my own capacity to handle the responses, of reliving that pit in my life and of what writing something so unbaked would mean for the course of my blog. But, I still published it. I hardly slept. But, I still published it. I let my own conviction about the need for that piece in that moment outweigh the fear.

Now, that piece is one of the most significant and well-received posts I’ve ever penned. That piece changed the game. Baring my soul and sharing a story in that kind of way changed how I perceived myself as writer for the better. It was only the second or third time I wrote something and cried my way through both writing and proofing it. (Correction: cried my way through writing something that I chose to publish; we can’t count all of the diatribes about men hidden on my laptop.) That piece made everything and all of this shit that I’m sharing real. It made it real. It was more than words and a screen and some retweets. And it ached. And it hurt. And it sent pangs of icy doubt right through the center of my body. But, it was one of the best things I ever did on behalf of one of the best people I ever knew.

I am not fearless. I don’t want to be. I want to be afraid. I want the sweaty palms and the nervous “ums” and the shaking boots. Give it to me. Give me the fear so that I can sit side-by-side with it and prove it wrong every single time. Give me the fear so that when it’s all said and done and I’ve bossed up, I can remember that the fear never lasts. Give me the fear. Let me touch it. Let me cradle it. Let me lick its bitter and steely exterior in that crazed Huck kind of way. Give me the fear so that I can flash it a wink once the success has taken a seat at the table. Give me the fear so that I can remember how gratifying it feels to be courageous–not to live without fear, but to instead face it head-on with my boobs propped up and my head held high. I am not fearless. I am afraid. And that is motivating as a motherfucker.

Xoxo,
Tyece

The Makings of My Quarter-Life Crisis

August 25, 2014

I really didn’t want to do this. I really wanted to spare all of us the melodrama of my becoming yet another person approaching my quarter-life and freaking out.

I tried not to do it.

I’m pretty sure I failed.

Cause I’m freaking out.

My 25th birthday is less than two months away. All of a sudden, this matters more than I ever thought it would, should or could.

When I demanded that Twitter (yes, Twitter of all places) provide me with advice for how to handle one’s quarter-life crisis, I was met with every reply under the sun, ranging from “wine” to “prayer.” Clearly if I can just chuck a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon whilst on my knees at an altar, I’ll have the perfect response to all of my misgivings.

I decided to hit up my homie dictionary.com to get a better sense of what a crisis really is. Crisis is a scary and oft-misused word. But, the homie told me that a crisis is “a stage in a sequence of events at which the trend of all future events, especially for better or for worse, is determined; turning point.” 

quarter life crisis

Quarter-life crisis selfie

Ok, so really, I’m back at square one because what the hell does any of that even mean? Is the “stage” now? Is the “sequence of events” my life? Are “all future events” the rest of my life? Come on, dictionary.com, you’re fucking up. I need answers and you’ve only left me with more questions.

Everyone’s quarter-life crisis looks a bit differently. Let’s mitigate any confusion by stating that mine is not of the “need to get married and have babies” variety. No disrespect to that crisis; all crises are created equal. That’s just not mine.

It’s difficult to paint an accurate portrait of my quarter life crisis because a fraction of it involves my career and the 9 to 5 hush-hush part of my career isn’t quite up for blog discussion. But, for all intents and purposes, let’s say my crisis is about career, my blog and money–three entities that are related in theory, but pose separate sets of anxiety for me in this case.

I’ve spent the past three years pretty content that I have the basics: housing, food, water, litter for my cat. You know, those things. I have a job. I pay my rent. I can afford independence. When my 18-year-old mind dreamed way back during my days in Easton Hall, the aforementioned list was what I wanted. But, recently, I’ve wanted more. I’ve wanted to live a life of authenticity and creativity. I’ve wanted to stop hating Mondays. I’ve wanted to quit using the phrase “I can’t do anything for the next two weeks cause this is my rent check.” These are the things that bug me now. Just making it is no longer enough. Just scraping by is no longer enough. Just being OK is no longer enough. And, if you want to jump in the comments section and tell me that it is, save yourself the trouble. I moderate the comments in this bitch. Access denied.

I did something about one of my quarter-life woes so far; I decided to move to a cheaper apartment. In fact, a few days ago, I paid the exorbitant, demonic and soul-crushing rent on my current apartment for the last time (shout out to October’s pro-rated rent!) I feel both excited and apprehensive about my decision to downsize; I’m excited because I’m finally getting a chance to hold on to more money every month and I’m apprehensive because I need a legitimate plan to save that money so I avoid squandering it on Yellow Tail bottles of wine. To be continued.

I haven’t figured out how to (wo)man handle the other fractions of my crisis yet. I just know one motif that appeared again and again when the Twitter brigade offered suggestions was that it helps to have a plan. It does not mean the Universe will always move according to that plan, but it still helps to have it. It helps to have some goal, some aspiration, some thing that keeps you anchored during times of mayhem and uncertainty.

So, I guess it’s time to plan. The first plan is to continue to chronicle the makings of my quarter-life crisis intermittently on the blog so that you all can witness my neurosis. Seems like a good start.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Goal Setting With The Timeline Project™

August 24, 2014

By: Tyece Wilkins 

Perhaps Brian Tracy said it best when he declared, “People with clear, written goals accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine.” I would probably doubt Brian’s words if it were not for The Timeline Project™. 

Dream it. Visualize it. Realize it™. That is what The Timeline Project does regarding your dreams and goals. It is a space that allows you to make sense of all the ambitious swirl dancing through your head by nailing down your goals in a visual and tangible way. The space serves as an online tool, mood board and information hub dedicated to helping you capture, develop and accomplish your goals. 

In the interest of full disclosure, I was initially terrified to map out some of my goals on The Timeline Project. I am a goal punk—meaning I am perfectly OK having goals until I have to attach dates and deadlines to them. Then I freak out and worry that I will suffer defeat if I fail to accomplish my goals according to the timeline I set. So, I keep my ambitions tucked away in my head, a false sense of security should I not accomplish what I set out to do. 

But, I chucked my fear in favor of adding five goals to my Timeline on The Timeline Project. And, there it was, staring me square in the face the moment I clicked on the “Work and Education” topic: Get Out of Debt. 

I’ve secretly held this goal in the confines of my brain for about a year now. But, seeing it there on my screen in such a plain yet non-invasive way finally made me take the plunge and commit to it. I was grateful to The Timeline Project for making it easy to dedicate myself to this goal without forcing me to conjure up all the ways in which I’ll do it, nor pushing me to attach a date to it other than “age 30.” The Timeline Project makes it simple for you. 

I added four more goals to my Timeline—unplug, stop using credit, start a side hustle and avoid negativity—and I already feel like I’m on a path to achieving this vast array of things. They are now on a screen and that is a start. I’ve wanted to do many of these things, but up until now, they have just resided in my head and heart. Now, they’re on my very colorful and awesome Timeline! 

While goals are for everyone, The Timeline Project places a special emphasis on women, the many choices we elect to make and the myriad of paths we choose to follow. The Timeline Project was developed by Bayer HealthCare, a leader in women’s health for over five decades, and a proud supporter of modern women everywhere.  

And, when it comes to the paths we forge and the decisions we make, one of the significant choices is what we do with our bodies and when (or if) we opt to create a family. Goals aren’t just about career or personal relationships, but they are also about making deliberate decisions about important things. To help you take control and decide where and when (or whether) you’ll build your family, The Timeline Project will also share some information about birth control options to discuss with your doctor. It’s your path, your body, your mind, your choice. Like anything else, it is your goal. 

It’s your turn. I encourage you to visit The Timeline Project so that you can also visualize your goals. What’s one thing you would like to do this year? Next year? In the next five years? Let us know what that goal is and then head to The Timeline Project to map it out!