Category Archives: performance / spoken word

Jump, Dance, and Bask In Your Purpose: Showcase Recap

March 10, 2016

The 2016 SSF cast Photo by @JazzTheNoise

The 2016 SSF cast
Photo by @JazzTheNoise

Author’s Note: Today is my last post until the week of March 21. It has been an unbelievably amazing start to 2016 with the showcase, a trip to Charleston to speak, the launch of TyeceWilkins.com, and everything else God has been gracious enough to send my way. But a lot of hard work has accompanied these incredible moments. So, it’s time for a break to rest, regroup, and get ready for whatever the Universe will bring next.

I wanted to write it all down. Wanted to get it on paper before the memories start spilling through the cracks in between my fingers. I wanted to relive it. Replay it. Remember it. I wanted to let those memories pick me up and twirl me around before life got in the way. Before bills got in the way. Before the pendulum swing between the present and my unending pursuit of purpose got in the way.

Except there isn’t any way to write it all down. I can’t capture that night in photos or videos or hashtags or even this blog post. I can’t sum it up in the few sentences I spit out when my coworkers asked me how it went. I can try. I will try. I have tried. But so far I can’t find a direct translation for how much my heart fluttered on Saturday night when my life’s purpose played out. Live. Direct. 100%.

I’ve written about “See. Speak. Feel.” before. The history. The failures. The doubt. The success. But, this year was the first year that the show and the people in it reflected the very reason I have been put on this Earth. If all of that sounds lofty and ridiculous and too nebulous to handle, that is because finding your purpose in life is often times lofty. Ridiculous. And too nebulous to handle.

I told my sister during the early weeks of planning that I wanted a dynamic show. Less reading. More performance. People giving it all they had. But soon enough the stress of managing the event outweighed that vision. I was herding cats. Fighting fires. Just trying to push my boulder of a baby uphill and across the finish line. I stopped thinking about what I told my sister all those weeks ago and gave in to my inevitable “this has to get done” modus operandi.

I dropped exactly three f-bombs in rapid succession five minutes before showtime. Murphy’s law stepped in and started playing with my spirit. My nerves stood on edge. The more anyone tried to calm me down, the more my blood boiled. We had to change something at the last minute. And then the plan shifted and we didn’t have to change that something anymore. By the time I sat near the booth to direct the show, I wasn’t even thinking about what to expect. I wasn’t thinking about this moment I created. I wasn’t thinking about purpose and I wasn’t thinking about that vision. I was thinking about sucking down a drink laced with alcohol once it all was finally over.

But, like every year, soon enough I settled into the show. Last year it didn’t happen until intermission. This year it happened during the second performance. I absorbed it. Watched it. Hollered when I liked a line. Waved my hands. Clapped. Laughed. Thanked God and his angels that the mics worked. Smiled when our stage manager knew exactly what to do without being prompted. Enjoyed myself. Relinquished the stress. Assumed full ownership of the vision.

When I say my purpose is to spark people to connect to the best, bravest, and boldest parts of themselves, that statement unnerves me. It feels like a giant pair of shoes to fill. It scares me that at the ripe age of 26, God has made that purpose so crystal clear and already allowed it to manifest in so many ways. Sometimes it makes me scratch my head and wonder what’s next? It makes me feel undeserving when there are people who spend entire lifetimes searching for the reason why their feet have been planted on this planet. I know why I’m here. Now. Tomorrow. Forever. So, when I say my purpose is to spark people to connect to the best, bravest, and boldest parts of themselves, as scary as it is, I know it’s right. It’s real. It’s rooted in everything I have come to learn about this life, the space I inhabit, and the energy I create.

I saw that purpose take on new life last Saturday. I saw it in my sister and the Adele notes she belted out, even after I told her “That’s a hard song. Adele messed it up at the Grammy’s.” I saw it in Roconia and Sharonia, whose unbreakable sisterhood radiated during their performance. I saw it in Jamé who went from managing the registration table at last year’s show to blowing the audience away with a poem (that she wrote that same morning!). I saw it in Yetti who rose to the challenge of reciting spoken word about the very palpable and universal concept of heartbreak. I saw it in Tassika when she smiled at the audience in between reading lines that left you swaying and humming “Yassss.” I saw it in Kalani who has not sang publicly in decades, but gave me shivers with an a capella version of Share My World. I saw it in Teresa who won our impromptu dance contest last year and went on to wow people as the only dancer this time around.

I saw my purpose in each of these women and everyone else who touched this year’s show. I witnessed people connect to the best parts of themselves. The brave parts. The bold parts. I watched them embrace the visions they had of themselves. Elevate the bar. Raise the standard. Rise to the occasion. These flickers of magic were inside each of them all along, dancing around in different ways. Peeking out. Creeping out. Waiting for a chance to burst and see the light of day. I’m grateful the stage was set to become that spark.

I don’t know if I can write it all down. I can’t translate entirely what that night meant for me or what it affirmed. But I can tell you there is not a better feeling in this lifetime than to dance, jump, and bask in your purpose. I can tell you that I want every single day to feel like the first Saturday in March.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Happy 2nd Birthday, Twenties Unscripted!

July 5, 2014

The story goes a little something like this: two years ago, I had nothing more than advice from Melinda Emerson that I needed to purchase a dot com for my blog coupled with an insatiable hunger to write. That was it. July 5, 2012 was the day I bought the domain name for www.twentiesunscripted.com and it has been a wild, unpredictable and life-affirming ride ever since then.

In some ways, the blog’s “birthday” has become bigger than my own. Perhaps it’s a bit strange to celebrate the birth of an inanimate object, but this blog is my lifeblood. It gives me meaning and purpose to have a place to share my truth and connect with people who receive that truth. It’s a tough thing to explain without turning into a half-crazy zealot the way I did a few nights ago when a friend of mine mocked me about a blog post. (I may have set the Guinness World Record for number of times “go fuck yourself” was uttered in a conversation, but that’s neither here nor there.)

I’m reserving this entire month to writing specific posts about this journey, the people I’ve met, the lessons I’ve learned and the gratitude I have. So, I will not squeeze all of those heavy things into a few paragraphs here. Instead, on the blog’s birthday, I want to honor the one thing that has kept this blog afloat–the writing. I’ve written a lot. Like A LOT. Like A LOT, A LOT. I’ve done my best to re-read my work and pull the bits from the past year that I think most reflect this space, my evolution as a writer and my propensity to say really ridiculous shit. Hope you enjoy this Twenties Unscripted trip down memory lane.

“Well, I started the blog because I didn’t hear my voice anywhere else. I wasn’t Lena Dunham. I wasn’t your Black Queen. I wasn’t Carrie Bradshaw. Oh, wait, Carrie Bradshaw isn’t real. Either way, I was some misfit of a writer with all of those influences projected on me, but none of them entirely emblematic of my life experience.” “I Rant, I Roar, But Mostly, I Write: 2013 Twenties Unscripted Mantra” July 10, 2013

“The primary way I’ve made an ounce of sense out of the past few years of my life is to write about them. Observe it. Experience it. Write it. Do not sugar coat it; life does not come to us complete with preservatives. It is raw, rare and uncooked. Sometimes it is ugly, unusual and unfortunate. But, that is what it is. So, you write through it.” The Rise Of The Woman Confessional Writer July 23, 2013

“Twenties Unscripted is about getting women to own our lives, relationships and mistakes.” Quit Fantasizing About Other People’s Lives And Go Live Yours August 13, 2013

“Writing is a lot of thinking and a lot of drinking.” Writing Is Crawling Out Of The Belly Of The Beast With A Story To Tell” August 14, 2013

“I hope that by the time I’m 30, Twenties Unscripted became something. That if nothing else, it drove people to figure their shit out and make mistakes while doing it.” When Twenties Unscripted Is All Said And Done August 15, 2013

 

Black Weblog Awards, Houston, November 2013

Black Weblog Awards, Houston, November 2013

“When someone has only one foot in your life, their partial residence is more agonizing than their absence. Sure, at first you believe you are saving yourself the eternal sting of their vacancy, so you comply with the scant texts, the “let me hit you up” later and the invitations you initiate that they never seem to fully accept or outright deny. They are a master of diplomacy, saying things that do not blatantly make them an asshole but also not saying things that would undoubtedly persuade you of their feelings. Every text becomes a game, every conversation becomes a ball of nerves, every night ends in you sitting up in bed picking apart their sentences until you are down to their syllables.” Either Be In My Life Completely Or Not At All August 19, 2013

“You learn that the world is small, but it is now pint-sized thanks to social media.” Social Media Is Filled With Land Mines From Your Past September 3, 2013

“You are the only person who signs the receipts on your life’s decisions.” Can We Agree To End The “90 Day Rule” Conversation? September 9, 2013

“Don’t chill out. Speak up. Think. Feel. Care about something. Be excitable and be excited. Let things ignite you. Be a pistol. Be a thunderbolt. Be someone at a dinner table with something thought-provoking to say.” You Don’t Need To Be A Chill Girl; Feelings Are Allowed September 18, 2013

“That’s why I think we have to dismantle this mantra of ‘keeping it real.’ It’s as though people can be outright douchebags and hide it under the guise of ‘just being honest’.No. It’s not honesty. It’s assholery at its finest and you need to learn and implement some tact in your life.” There’s A Difference Between Keeping It Real And Being An Asshole September 24, 2013

“Do not surrender your twenties to being a fraud. Stop faking friendships, stop faking relationships, stop faking happiness, stop faking your interests, stop faking orgasms. Just quit. And, learn how to get yourself on a path to the real thing. Learn how to chop down the weeds, cut through the bullshit and find the authentic thing. It’s there.” Do Not Surrender Your Twenties Pt. 2 October 7, 2013

“It never ceases to blow my mind when women know how many carats they want on an engagement ring and they don’t even have, um, I don’t know…a boyfriend? Wouldn’t that be the first step? It’s amazing that you can know you want a princess cut diamond and you don’t even have a fucking 401K.” The Silly Obsession With Engagement Rings October 23, 2013

“Rip up the sketch. Eradicate the image. Let go of the expectations others set for you, or worse, the ones you set for yourself.” Let Go Of How It Should Be October 30, 2013

“I sometimes doubt myself and my work. Not too long ago, I changed the title of a post about

NYC Bloggers Brunch, November 2013

NYC Bloggers Brunch, November 2013

ten times before I clicked publish. I worry about teetering the fine line between using my life as my material and keeping enough of myself private. I try not to drop a plethora of f-bombs per my parents’ suggestion. (Hey, Mom and Dad.) I work hard not to exploit my friendships or relationships. But, I also try to give enough of myself so that people, especially women, connect and see themselves. Because I know that no matter how tired I get, every day I work at this, I am doing something I adore. Few things in life can replace a feeling like that.” Writing, Goals And General Musings About WTF I’m Doing With My Life November 20, 2013

“Don’t let people tell you your twenties are 10 years of the same shit. And, if they tell you that, don’t listen to them. Don’t let that happen. Don’t believe them. Let yourself evolve and grow and change and let go. If you are the same person at 24 who you were at 21, you’re not doing this thing right.” The Difference Between 21 And 24 January 13, 2013

“Feed your passion. Get that check. And, if the rubber finally meets the road and you find a way to do those both simultaneously, well, that’s fucking amazing and some celestial being has looked out for you. But, do not sit idle waiting for that to happen. The rubber does not meet the road without you being on a relentless grind. Move. Work. Bust your ass. Then bust your ass some more.” Passion And Paychecks February 5, 2013

“Writing as a discipline, writing as an art form, writing as an outlet is so much better than what the Internet has made it out to be.” I’m Really Tired Of People Writing For Hits And Shock Value February 19, 2014

 

Twenties Unscripted Presents "See. Speak. Feel." March 2014

Twenties Unscripted Presents “See. Speak. Feel.” March 2014

“Blogging is about consistency. Blogging is about consistency. ONE MORE TIME, BLOGGING IS ABOUT CONSISTENCY.” The Blogging Game: Stop Waiting For Inspiration February 21, 2014

“Some days, I am in the quicksand. And, as I stand there feeling as though I’m about to go under, I force myself to remember that things happen for a reason.” When It Feels Like You’re Drowning In Quicksand March 1, 2014

“Create meaning. Bring meaning. Add value. Seek to become a person who adds substance, not just sugar.” Do It With Passion Or Not At All March 3, 2014

“I don’t want part. I want the whole. The entire fucking whole. I want the stories and the passion and the scars. I want the lust and the love and yes, the attention. I want someone to have my back the way I have theirs. I want someone to hold my dreams close and hold my secrets closer. I want someone to give of themselves fully the way I believe in giving of myself to others. The way I believe in giving of myself to everything in this world that I do. Every relationship I take on, every friendship I value, every goal I chase after. I do not want part. I want the whole.” Settling For Part When You Can’t Have The Whole March 4, 2014

“But, know that passivity is a decision. Keeping him around is a decision. Turning a blind eye to

Twenties Unscripted Presents "Brunch, Blogs and Books" May 2014

Twenties Unscripted Presents “Brunch, Blogs and Books” May 2014

what happened is a decision. People are quick to mistake doing nothing as indecisiveness. Doing nothing is a decision. Inertia is a decision.” Doing Nothing Is A Decision April 30, 2014

“Writing is not how I make my living; writing is how I make my life.” Writing Isn’t How I Make My Living, It’s How I Make My Life” May 29, 2014

 

“Pay the least attention to what he texts, less to what he says and most to what he does.” What I Know About Life Three Years After Graduation May 20, 2014

“Lifting someone else up never, ever lessens you. If anything, it elevates you.” We Need To Show Each Other Authentic Support June 23, 2014

Happy 2nd Birthday, Twenties Unscripted. It’s probably completely inappropriate to cheers to a toddler, but here’s to many more years of wine, writing, women and wisdom.

Xoxo,

Tyece

To Maya

May 28, 2014

This post is an excerpt from Twenties Unscripted: A Journey of Womanhood, Writing, and Relativity. The full essay is available in the book, which is currently available for pre-sale here.

You are the sum total of everything you’ve ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot – it’s all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive. Dr. Maya Angelou, 1928-2014

You made me a phenomenal woman before I even had any semblance of curves or any inkling of wit or any ounce of strength. You made me a phenomenal woman before I learned how to define womanhood for myself, before I labeled myself a feminist, before I learned to demand respect from both men and women alike. You made a phenomenal woman long before my body had stretch marks or my ego had bruises or my heart had scars. You made me a phenomenal woman when I was just a little girl, hooked to your poems yet so unaware of how they would later speak the rhythm of my life.

You made it OK for me to be a caged bird long before I knew I was caged, long before I would trek through the sort of mud in life that would make me feel like a prisoner in my own body.

Self-Promotion: A Budding Blogger’s Best Friend And Worst Nightmare

April 8, 2014

“Have you thought about getting a flyer that highlights everything you do with writing and performing?”

That’s the question a coworker asked me yesterday when I mentioned I did a show last weekend.

“You need something that shows off the blog and the performing,” he said.

And, that is how the words, “Tyece postcard” got added to the never-ending list of projects on deck for this summer.

After my show last Saturday, I started talking to another girl who performed and toward the end, I handed her my business card which felt far too formal for two women talking about poetry. Plus, it didn’t really say anything about, well, my poetry. My coworker was right. I needed something beyond my cards.

“Did you plug the blog before you performed?” he asked.

“Nah, not really,” I replied.

“Yeah, you’ve gotta always plug the blog.”

I’d venture to guess for most budding bloggers, writers, artists, performers, entrepreneurs and whoever else that self-promotion can be both a blessing and a curse. I know in the writing community, there are people who turn their nose at it and believe their work should speak for itself (I do not subscribe to this school of thought.) Honestly, I am sometimes extremely shitty at self-promotion, at least in person. A few months ago I was at a show and I had the postcards to advertise my showcase, but when the host asked if I wanted to get on stage and plug the show, I paused until my friends urged me to do it.

“This is your primary audience; you better plug it,” one of my friends said.

It’s a strange feeling–being proud of your work and always teetering the line of proud blog mama and complete narcissistic prick. I know that at least 70% of my social media content is about the blog, my events, performing, etc. But, it doesn’t mean I don’t think before I blast things or feel weird doing it. Just today I hesitated to post the promotional flyer for my upcoming brunch on Instagram for the second time. But, bitch gotta meet that food and beverage minimum.

When it comes to social media, I make a conscious effort to retweet people more (and actually retweet them, not be one of those people who jumps through extra loops to copy/paste someone’s tweet and put “RT” in front of it so I can get credit. There is an entirely separate blog post for those types of goons.) I share articles and quotes I find interesting. But, still, there will always be a “NEW POST, FOOL” somewhere in the arena of 8pm most nights, followed by a series of quotes from that new post. I figured if people get sick of it, they can click unfollow and we can all live happily ever after.

The early stages of building a brand or making a name for yourself are tough, exhausting and expensive. You often times feel like the kid in the class waving your hand erratically and shouting “Look at me, look at me!” while the teacher glances your way and then calls on the next kid. You worry that your constant promotion is falling on deaf ears. There is a lot you do that goes unnoticed. And, there are things you do that get noticed, but you never know. Last night a high school classmate sent me a Facebook message and said she reads my blog virtually every day; that’s not something I would have ever known if she hadn’t jotted down those few lines. You reach an entire population of people who are just readers. They are not commenters. They are not tweeters. They are not congratulators. They just read. They see what you’re doing; they just don’t say anything. And, those people are no less important than the people who share your work profusely; because, ultimately, they are all reading.

Even though the early days are tough, exhausting and expensive, part of me thinks they are the most rewarding. Everything feels like a victory because it’s unprecedented. The first time Demetria Lucas retweeted me, I thought it was the coolest shit ever. When Evette Dionne highlighted my blog on Clutch Magazine, I beamed for a full week. Hell, when the first person applied for my summer internship, I couldn’t believe it. What I think people don’t know is that every time I do something new, whether it’s search for an internship or host an event, I never know if it will work. Of course, I hope it does and I put my total energy into making it happen, but there is still that tiny part of me that wonders, “Would people actually take this seriously?” And, then I have to remind myself that I don’t work this hard or care about this blog this much  for people not to take it seriously.

Xoxo,

Tyece