Woman Unscripted

I walked around for most of 2018 with a shiny pair of invisible handcuffs tying my wrists together. I couldn’t write. I didn’t write. I wouldn’t write. I stopped knowing what the pitter patter of laptop keys beneath my fingertips sounded like. I flew across the world for work and prayed that I would unearth some stroke of inspiration in Adelaide, South Australia. Instead I sat on the couch most nights watching Masterchef as my eyelids grew heavy. Somewhere along the line, the adrenaline rush ceased. I stopped believing in magic, the allure that accompanies tossing words into the ether and watching them stick with someone you’ve never even met. I fell out of love with the cross-country race of writing online. I craved the quiet blessing of savoring some experiences for myself.

But, I also grew up.

I tapped into other dimensions of myself. My full-time career kicked into high gear. I left the country for the first time alone and got lost wandering through the streets of Sydney. I found solace and joy in new, different arenas of my life. And at times it felt like my writing relegated itself to the margins. I now know this happened because I needed to make space. I needed to clear the way. I needed some air and elbowroom so I could evolve and transform and fall in love. I needed to stop writing and start living. It’s hard to do any of those things when you’re chained to a laptop giving the Internet the best of what you’ve got.

I stopped wanting to pen essays lamenting love I’d lost because I was preoccupied with nurturing the love I’d found. I could no longer be that girl on the Internet who relayed tales of being jilted and left somewhere in the wilderness. I had to find another MO. Another approach. A new angle that would resonate and ring true. Because at some point I stopped being that lovelorn girl. And I became a woman who was in love with her feet on solid ground.

The early, angst-ridden years. They faded both quickly and at a glacial pace. I do not miss the time when it felt like there was never much to see in my life, whether I looked behind or looked ahead. And, yet, that limited vision, that inability to see much in each either direction, became the bedrock for this blog. That course without a reliable compass became my content. Day in. Day out. A twenty-something living in Texas, and later back on the East Coast, needed to scribble her way through. She also needed to be able to trace her steps back. So she wrote. And wrote. And wrote some more.

Even now, I still need to write. And write. And write some more.

But, there is a new home for me to build. New doors to open. New windows to crack. There is somewhere else where my words and the woman I am becoming will feel more right and make more sense.

That place will be Woman Unscripted.

I finally said goodbye to this blog around 9 p.m. on a Tuesday night. I poured a glass of red wine, lit a candle and stared at the screen waiting for the words to come until I felt the tears arrive first. First in my chest, a burning sensation. Then in my eyes. Finally on my face. Somewhere in my gut, I knew that I would never be able to write a final post until or unless I let my heart break just a little. Because this place has been home. It has given me purpose, a village and a way out. It has been a channel for my hunger and ambition and boundless list of ideas. It has given me waters to swim in and dry land to stand on. It has led me to women and men who have changed my life and rearranged my perspective. Twenties Unscripted is the reason I have a goddaughter, in addition to many of the other good things in my life. This blog has taken me to California and New York and Philadelphia and Atlanta and that one incredible stop in Illinois. This thing steered every turn of my twenties, and saying goodbye still shakes me a bit.

We’ve been together for six years. But I knew during the last two of them that I had grown up, and it was time to move on. I have been stalling and waiting for some perfect moment, knowing somewhere in the recesses of my mind that such a moment would never arrive. So, I had to unearth a snippet from the email Alida sent me two years ago when I first thought about bidding this blog farewell:

“You know when you hit the wall. We stand at the wall for a while, hoping it’s not real, but we know when we’re done. And although it’s scary, you also have to think beyond—the idea of bringing more people in, more reward, more satisfying posts and experiences and writing and movement. I don’t know where it’ll go, but if I don’t do it, then I’ll be swimming in the shallow end until everything I have just fades away.” -Alida Nugent

I always promised that I would not wait until the clock struck 12 on my 30th birthday to stop penning in a space reserved for a “sincere, sassy and sometimes smart-assy take on growing up.” That’s why I purchased a new domain a few years back. I would know when the time was right to pack up the boxes of my beloved Internet home.

Now is the right time. And Woman Unscripted is the right place.

Thank you for six incredible years. There is no use rehashing it all because I believe there is still so much more to come. But suffice it to say that I did not do any of this alone, and I am forever grateful for what we created here, together. I hope that whomever you are, wherever you are, you will stick around for the next leg of this journey.

I’ll see you in October. A new space and new stories.

Thank you for everything.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Do Not Dare To Dim Your Light (A Note To Self)

On a drizzly Saturday evening, you’ll walk into European Wax Center and the sign on the door will catch your eye. “Walk in, strut out.” You’ll roll your eyes a little bit at the marketing and how women are supposed to have an extra pep in their step after they’ve had hair painfully ripped from their bodies. But before you can digest that thought, the woman at the front counter will ask you your name, and you’ll tell her who you are, full government. You still won’t think much of the exchange until she comments, with the slightest bit of toxin in her tone, that you “strutted in here like you owned the place.” You’ll laugh and say “I’m just here for a wax,” but the irony isn’t lost on you. After all, how dare you strut into a setting that you are merely supposed to walk into?

People hear it in the click of your heels and from the first note off your tongue. They see it in your eyes. They read it on your lips, sometimes nude and other times painted a deep burgundy or a playful purple or an unforgettable red. But maybe more than anything, they feel it when you step into the room and somehow the energy shifts in a way that is palpable. Visceral. Unexpected.

This is called your light.

Some days it is a spark. Other days it is a wildfire. But most days it is slow burn, one that you emit in a quiet and powerful way that cannot be contained.

To whom much is given, much is required. You will recite this to yourself sometimes sitting at stoplights or right before a big meeting at work. You learned somewhere along the way that God does not give us light without also giving us responsibility. Weight. A duty to carry out. A purpose to fulfill. It is not enough to illuminate; you must also show up in every space and burn brightly.

You’ve learned that light is not a universal language. There are people who will gravitate toward it. There are people who will fight to darken it. There are those who will dismiss it and those who will bring even more of it out of you. There are people who were once enamored by your rays who are now hoping for your sun to set. This is all par for the course.

You will spend a lot of time and energy thinking about how you can protect your light. You will learn who deserves it and who does not. This is a lesson of trial and error, one you will get wrong many times before you get it right. You will ignite for men who can only manage to flicker for you. You will guard your blaze intently so others can not snuff it out. You will come to realize that when it comes to light, sometimes it inspires and other times it intimidates. Most times it does both in the same day.

And yet, I still dare you not to dim your light. Not for the sake of others. Not for their comfort or their acceptance or their ease or their insecurities. I dare you not to dim your light even when it seems like the road would be more easily trodden should you just go along and shrink a few sizes. I dare you not to dim your light even when it feels like the odds are against you and it would make everyone else’s life much more simple if you just stopped shining. I dare you not to dim your light even when you lose some people you loved, even when spreading your light poses more risks than it offers rewards, even when you want to close the blinds and shut the shades.

You are both lighthouses and torches. Sunrises and lanterns. Dawns and daybreaks. The entire Earth is somewhere inside of you ready to beam. Why won’t you let it?

On a drizzly Saturday evening, you’ll sign the receipt at European Wax Center and the woman behind the counter will make it a point to tell you there’s some lipstick on your teeth. You’ll thank her and smile into your iPhone camera to fix it before you go. You’ve learned by now that some gestures are born from kindness and some gestures rise from strange and insecure places. It’s often times hard to parse out the difference. You’ll chalk this one up to a woman who saw you dare to strut in, so she wanted to make it a point that you only walked out. But you will strut anyway. Because this has nothing to do with your stride. This is called your light.

There Is More Love Left.

 

Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

I’m about to hop on I-83 and head back home after Christmas when two iMessages from my best friend pop up. Enclosed are screenshots from what I presume is some sort of horoscope website. The blurbs do exactly what blurbs like that are intended to do–reaffirming things I’ve believed or wanted to believe, corroborating my truths, and resurrecting sentiments I’ve felt somewhere deep underneath my skin.

2018: You are supposed to learn how to let your garden feed you. This year is about finishing up what began in 2016, and allowing yourself to thrive in it. It is about making serious relationship commitments, becoming more financially stable than ever, and adjusting to your highest vision of yourself – because deep down, that’s who you’ve been all along.

I almost don’t want to absorb the paragraph. I would rather let it slide off my shoulders and land in puddles on the pavement. I don’t want to think about my garden or how, as the previous paragraph stated, I’ve been stomping all over it this year. I don’t want to consider how many more flights of stairs lead to the highest vision of myself. I don’t want to remember how much I’ve been clawing to become a financially solvent, real-life adult. And, I certainly don’t want to think about serious relationships commitments. But, somehow, the paragraph attaches itself to me and I can’t quite seem to let it go.

Finishing up what began in 2016 implies returning to the most free and unencumbered version of myself. I loved that woman. Some days, I miss that woman and I wonder where she went. And then I remember that I locked her neatly in a treasure chest this year, alongside vulnerability and trust and openness. 2017 was the year of folding myself up into ornate and beautiful stacks that could not be destroyed. Because somewhere along the line I learned that love, or anything that resembles it, requires you to undo yourself. And, this year, my heart and my stomach and my knees and my elbows could not withstand the weight of unfolding once more.

But, something tells me there is more love left.

There is more love left on each of the puzzle pieces of the woman I became this year. Fragments of that woman are wedged in between the couch cushions of a therapist’s office on the plaza level of a high-rise condo. Bits of that woman are sprinkled on the balcony stairs of Alfred Street Baptist Church. Parts of that woman are stuck in between the pages of GRE books. Slivers of that woman are still on this blog. Scraps of that woman are somewhere in the sand of Virginia Beach. That woman is both everywhere and nowhere, scattered and contained, here and already on her way to the next stop.

Yes, there is more love left.

There is more love left somewhere in the canyon of my belly and the chasm of my laugh. Somewhere on the right side of my body, sandwiched in between the loopy curves of a tattoo. Somewhere on the left side of my body, sprawled across a sea of bare skin. There is more love left on my lips and my thighs and my neck and my spine and all of the other residences where sometimes I swore that there could not possibly be any more love left.

There is more love left.

There is more love left underneath the layers I bundle up in and the masks I wear and the walls I build. There is more love left behind my eyes, a pair that stared into the mirror of a bar bathroom not too long ago as I wondered whether I’m designed for the kind of love so many of my friends have already seized and sealed. There has got to be more love left somewhere in my tangled hair and my tender heart.

Yes, there is more love left.

There is more love left even after breakdowns in the bathroom and nights spend switching between SZA and Solange. There is more love left even after that one evening in a Philadelphia hotel where I played Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams on repeat and woke up in the middle of the night with my tummy twisted into one million knots. There is more love left even after I ripped my way through a bevy of lovelorn emotions with the soundtrack to prove it.

My God, there is more love left.

And, I do not know whether that love is in crevices or ravines or corners. I don’t know whether that love is hiding or standing in broad daylight. I don’t always know where that love will come from, nor do I know where it will lead. But, all I know is that somewhere underneath the sun there has got to be more love left.

Xoxo,
Tyece

That Tangled Something That You Feel

Photo courtesy of unsplash.com

Buried somewhere in my email inbox is an eight-message thread from February 18, 2013. A few thousand words. A mothership of emotions. Line after line exposing my bluff.

I liked him. A lot. More than I should’ve. More than I said. And it’s easy and almost irrelevant to state the obvious now, but somehow it wasn’t so simple then. Back then, I wanted so deeply in my gut to be unbothered. Untethered. Unaffected. Unattached. I wanted every part of my identity steered by a prefix that meant “not.” I yearned not to be so many things that I never took stock of everything, every bit, and every broken piece that I was.

I’ve been thinking about that girl I used to be a lot these days. I’ve been thinking about how the distance between what she feigned and what she actually felt spanned for acres. I’ve been thinking about that email thread. Ive revisited it on occasion. Sometimes for inspiration. Sometimes for a jolt to the joints. Sometimes for a reminder of how far I’ve come.

I don’t know where in the web of dating women begin to suppress themselves and shape shift into people they are not. I’m not sure who teaches us to tone it down or play it cool or pretend to be something we simply aren’t. I’m not sure when we begin to contort and curve so as not to seem too much of this or too little of that. But, I know that we do these things. And maybe we do them for so long that then we have to fight to undo them. We have to untwist our limbs. Unleash ourselves. Lay waste to all of walls we fought so hard to build.

That is where I am now. Untwisting. Unleashing. Laying waste. Making peace with the deluge of emotions I bring to any relationship. Appreciating that I am not a woman who is easily contained.

And while the hard truth is that I am still somewhere in between frozen and thawed out, I’m done shape shifting. I’m done accepting fragments of affection. I can no longer just get along with a love that’s only good enough. There comes a point where you grasp that grown women learn to stop playing pretend. There comes a point where you connect with another human being on this planet and begin to honor that tangled something that you feel.

Xoxo,
Tyece

The Unbearable Weight of What If

There are some things still tangled in the boughs of your belly. Memories. Mistakes. Mayhem. Men. You’ve been carrying them around with you not realizing that these are not just things, but instead they are bricks. Weighing you down. Collapsing your core. Holding you back from the freedom to fly.

You will not know it. You will not know that every time your mind flickers to that memory or dances with the devil, your center of gravity sinks. You will not know it because it is so easy, or so it seems, to walk lightly even as your insides are cloaked in the weight of what if.

What if? You hardly ever say it aloud, and yet the idea still sprints through your mind, a stampede of fantasies you can’t quite seem to surrender. What if you reached out again? What if it never happened? What if you didn’t say that? What if you destroyed the memories of what was and penned a new story on a crisp set of blank pages?

And, perhaps most poisonous of all, what if he still thinks about you too?

This last one is the brick that weighs one ton, a theory you have dressed your heart in for months on end. It is the reason why you have grown cold and left your soul in limbo. It is the boulder pulling you down the most.

What if?

You will not know the toxin of what if until reality replaces reverie, and you aren’t left to wonder anymore. You will not know just how much what if was weighing you down until you let out a loud cry on a Sunday evening, your skin and hair still drenched from the shower, a hot pink towel wrapped halfway around your body. In that moment, there will not be anymore what ifs. There will only be you, your boundless curiosity, and the photo of him with his arms draped around another woman.

This is not what if. This is what is.

This moment will become your redemption song, a severe but necessary jolt to bring you back to what’s true. What’s real. What is yours and yours alone. This is your baptism by fire. Your blend of blind rage and breakthrough. This is the flash that will finally give you the freedom to fly once more.

You deserve a life that does not hinge on hypotheticals or doors only left halfway ajar. You cannot breathe off of sheer possibilities; you require much more air than that. You are the sum of stars and moons and entire galaxies; can’t you see how much love you have to give? You cannot fit gallons of your heart into a test tube of a man. They will spill over, only for him to tell you that you are the one who made this mess. You are not a woman who has to settle for fractions of affection; the totality of someone’s love is your birthright. Know that. Honor that. Cherish that. Preserve that. Do not spend another moment of this life overloaded by the weight of what if.

Xoxo,
Tyece