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.
Zora Neale Hurston once said, “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” I’ve been reflecting on 2014 ever since October and I still don’t know if it was a year that asked questions or a year that answered them. If it were the former, it would have asked, “Who are you really trying to be as a woman and a writer? How are you going to let your work evolve from a twenty-something just telling everyone her business to staking your claim as a voice who has earned the right to be heard? And, are you going to let the bullshit stop you or fuel you?”
And if 2014 were a year that answered those same questions it would have said, “You’re trying to be a woman and writer whose convictions and truth will always transcend the ephemeral trends of the day. You are going to let your work evolve by setting boundaries when it comes to your personal life and pushing limits when it comes to your writing style. You will stake your claim as a voice who has earned the right to be heard simply by speaking up and believing that indeed, you will be heard. And, you are absolutely going to let the bullshit fuel you. You’d be a fool to respond in any other way.”
More. A word that plagues my vocabulary. I should make more money. Save more money. Write more. Go to church more. Call my friends more. Date more. Travel more. Read more. More, more, more. The word that zeroes in on life’s voids without actually addressing them.
Less. Another word that infiltrates my vocabulary. Spend less money. Worry less. Care less about what other people think. Spend less time on social media. Less. The word that magnifies your hedonism, your self-indulgence, your insecurities.
More and less, two words in constant competition when it comes to how we spend our time and carry out our lives. They are probably two words embedded in the New Year’s resolutions of those who are opting to create them. But, I stopped believing in New Year’s resolutions awhile ago, instead converting to the school of thought that any day is a chance to change how you do things. I sometimes think New Year’s resolutions are a quick detour to disappointment as you proudly proclaim “New Year, New Me” on December 31, only to revert to your old ways by January 31. I don’t think there’s anything inherently more transformative about January 1 than say April 30 or June 16 or September 22.They are all days where you can choose to commit, to let go, to change.
Even so, I’m still in reflection mode like most of the world today, looking back on my year, what happened and the people who crossed my path. I could say the year was amazing or I could say it sucked and it’s all relative. I feel more inclined to say it was an amazing year, but the truth is, it was probably both great and not-so-great. There were days so good they deserved more than 24 hours and days so terrible I couldn’t see straight through my tears. Because, that is what a year is. Maybe some years, the good outweighs the bad and other years, the demons overrule the angels. But, no year is really complete without both.
I’m heading into 2014 without any resolutions and with few expectations for the year. That is how I came into 2013 and this year continued to surprise me in that holy-shit-is-this-really-my-life (good) kind of way. All I really have is a lot of faith because of what I’ve learned, seen and experienced this past year. I have faith in whatever bits of wisdom I’ve gained along the way to help me steer my life’s tiny sailboat without becoming completely shipwrecked.
I’ve learned that if you want much of anything in this life, if you want to interview someone for your blog or you want to get a chance to spotlight at your favorite poetry spot or whatever it is, you have to fight. You have to email people once, twice and maybe even three times. You have to be somewhat of a relentless pain in the ass when it comes to your goals because nothing comes easy and the world owes you nothing. People do not care, emails go to the junk folder and your dreams only possess that antsy level of urgency to you.
I’ve learned that you can find friends in the most unlikely places and under unforeseen circumstances. Every year, I learn more and more who are my life’s allies, associates and assholes. And, every year I weed out the latter two and focus on the first group, the people who have my back in this life 24/7, no questions asked.
I’ve learned how good it feels to stop letting my night-time schedule revolve around
what’s on TV. It seems absurd that I used to spend Sunday through Thursday basing my evening activities on whatever was coming on Bravo. It doesn’t mean I don’t have my must-watch shows or that I don’t tweet incessantly through some of them. But, I’ve learned the beauty of on-demand and re-runs in exchange for spending more nights with a glass of wine, Lenny Kravitz or Norah Jones or Joss Stone and just my thoughts.
I’ve tasted the sour sweet bite of cutting someone out of your life. I’ve seen unrequited feelings from both ends, earlier this year being the person far more invested and later this year being the person whose feelings did not quite match the other’s. I’ve learned the pang of admitting to yourself when the feelings aren’t congruent and the sting of knowing your only option in those situations is to walk away. Because no one deserves to be another person’s bookmark. No one deserves to be the crease in the page, abandoned there until the other person decides to return and continue the story.
I’ve learned a lot this year and I will pocket those lessons for next year and the many other years when I know I will need them more than ever.
Happy 2014, Twenties Unscripted kinfolk. Thanks for all you have done to support me, this blog and all of my antics.