Guest Writers Week | The Older You Get…

jelisa quote

High school was chock full of daunting college applications, fleeting friendships, and hype pep rallies. For most, it was exciting, but I was always counting down the days until college happened. In high school, I cared too much about what others thought of me and I longed to go to a place where I would be accepted. My days were spent (in between studying of course) feeling badly about sitting at the lunch table alone, working tirelessly to impress a guy or following the path laid out for me to the letter. I was afraid to speak up in class for fear that I would be called a nerd, so I spent most of my time hiding so that others could be comfortable with me.

Sure, I was a star student, involved in many student groups and poised to head to a top college. But on the inside, I let what my peers thought of me or what I thought they thought of me rob me of the freedom of being unapologetically me.

That “dull your own shine” attitude followed me into my college years.

I’d miss interesting events and speakers because I was afraid I’d be the only Black person there or worse that I’d have no one to go with. I didn’t join certain student groups for fear of being ridiculed. I didn’t pursue my dream of writing because of the people who told me that it was not a substantial career. When you tell people that you are a Theatre and Latin American Studies major, their blank stares, piercing disappointment, confusion and replies of “Oh” can dim your spirit.

I wanted to impress. I wanted a “You go, girl!”

Instead replies went something like this…

“Why do you want to do that?”

“What are you going to do with that?”

“Why didn’t you study business?”

“You will never make it.”

Because I didn’t get the affirmation I sought, I forced myself to pursue other interests. I focused on my backup plan so much that I didn’t get anywhere near my dream.

It took conversations with my mother during my last year of college to realize that what others say or feel about your path should not matter. The infinite “Oh” that I receive when talking about my purpose is just a result of other people’s fear. It should not be mine. You would think that the revelation would have happened sooner, but you can’t rush progress.

And that has been my goal: to stop basing my life and decisions on other people’s expectations.

Every day, I ask myself the questions:
What do you want to do?
What is your purpose?

And I follow that with my whole heart.

The older you get, the less you care. Or maybe you just come into your own. No need for “Amen” and “You go, girl” to compliment your dreams (unless they are praying for you, then you need all of that you can get). You live everyday so that you can look back on it in fifty years with few regrets. You don’t need a co-signer. You don’t need to explain or give everyone a play-by-play of how it is going to happen. The older you get, the more experiences you have and the more you realize that you don’t care what people think about you. You begin to live life to please your Creator and yourself. You follow your dreams with a gusto and magic that is contagious. That magic inspires others to do the same.

Jelisa Jay Robinson is a writer and playwright from Houston, Texas. She enjoys traveling, singing 90’s pop music, belting out Enrique Iglesias songs with friends, and reading a good Junot Diaz novel. You can find her musings on being a bilingual Black American on her website Black Girl, Latin World. Feel free to follow her on twitter @jelisathewriter.

Meet The Spring 2015 Twenties Unscripted Campus Reps Team!

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Twenties Unscripted is meant to reach many women, especially all of those in their twenties. But, late last year, I realized I was missing a critical audience of twenty-somethings–those in their early twenties. Just getting started. Making mistakes and taking over the world at the same damn time. I knew I had to figure out a way to start reaching that audience more and the TU Campus Reps program came to the rescue.

This semester there are four ladies representing three different schools, and every spectrum of undegrad life–from a freshman to a sophomore. This amazing and ambitious group of women will help me keep a pulse on what’s happening on their respective campuses, market and promote key TU initiatives and events, and keep me from getting old and decrepit. I really hope that I spend the next few months learning as much from them as they are able to learn from me. Meet the Spring 2015 TU Campus Reps team.

JameJamé Jackson | Howard University | senior | English and classics double major

Involved in: HUNAACP, Hilltop Newspaper Committee, Sterling Brown English Society, Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society, Howard Players Acting Group

3 words to describe her: Enigmatic, silly, sarcastic.

Favorite college memory: Even though I’ve been a lot of places and done a lot of things, my junior year I took this professor who had us study the arts, Black Arts Movement, and black poets. It may not have meant a lot to anyone else, but her passion for the word and its artistry has been something I’ve carried with me ever since.

Favorite quote: “We’re all mad here.” – Alice In Wonderland

5 years from now...”I don’t know where I’ll be in 5 years, because I honestly don’t even know where I’ll be tomorrow. The only things I pray for are health, happiness, peace, and love. The rest will come in due time. ”

 

photo-10Patience Williams | University of Maryland | junior | finance/marketing major

Involved in: Student Government – Deputy Director of Communications of Financial Affairs
Caribbean Student’s Association – Treasurer
Smith Diversity Empowerment Council – Member

Three words to describe her: active, pensive, passionate

Favorite college memory: Freshmen year; laying across McKeldin Mall on a perfect warm spring day, under a clear blue sky, with friends eating Ritas and people watching. (I’m a simple woman)

5 years from now… Finishing a dual MPP/JD Master’s program

Favorite quote: “I exist as I am, that is enough. If no other in the world be aware, I sit content. And if each and all be aware, I sit content.”- Walt Whitman

 

unnamedVianelly Betancourt | SUNY Old Westbury | sophomore | media communications

Involved in: President of the NAACP at Old Westbury, member of a newly established non-profit organization called Heart of the City

Three words that describe her: diligent, passionate, determined

Favorite college memory: I am only a sophomore so there is still so much for me to experience in college. Before becoming involved on campus a lot of my “fun” consisted of the usual college partying. After talking to some people I realized how badly I needed to get involved which pushed me to reactivate the NAACP Chapter at Old Westbury with the help of some other Old Westbury students. So far my greatest college memory was at my organization’s first annual “Showtime at the Apollo” event. The executive board and I were looking for a big event to make us a staple on campus. After months of planning, recruiting performers, and perfecting the event it all came to life on October 29, 2014. Seeing my vision come to life was truly a blessing and gave me a true sense of appreciation. I was humbled to see so many people come out and give such great feedback on the event. I must say it was my favorite college memory because it truly molded my idea of how bright I envision my future to be. It truly showed me that hard work pays off and that keeping this in mind I can achieve anything I want.

Favorite Quote: “Excuse me while I kiss the sky” – Jimi Hendrix

Next 5 years… When I read “Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?” I felt flustered not because I don’t know what I want, but because there is so much I want. I truly am an overly ambitious person and I believe that’s my best quality. In five years I see myself with my bachelor’s degree in mass communications and marketing while working on my master’s in public relations somewhere outside of New York, preferably California or Atlanta. I was born and raised in NYC and I love it, but I know I need some time out of this state to venture and broaden my network. I pray that in five years I am working for a radio station or TV channel whether it be on air or behind the scenes.

Jazmin Goodwin | Howard University | freshman | broadcast journalism

Involved in: Teen Diaries Music Staff Reporter, Freshman Leadership Academy, Freshman Leadership Committee – F.A.C.E (Freshman Actively Committing to Excellence) Member, WHUR 96.3 – on-air personality and web content writer

Jazmin

Three words that describe her: Story-teller. Busy-bee. Powerhouse.

Favorite college memory: Being granted the opportunity to cover Lauryn Hill’s R&B performance for Howard’s Homecoming. Not only was it an amazing showcase, but being able to meet, chat, and take a photo with the legendary star after the show was beyond AMAZING!

Favorite quote: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” –Matthew 7:7

5 years from now…New York Times bestseller, Forbes 20 Under 25, budding journalist turned mass media phenomenon.

Review of GenTwenty’s Guide to College Success + A Big TU Announcement

Note: The review in this post is written in partnership with GenTwenty. Opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.

There’s a quote I love in Amy Poehler’s “Yes Please” when she writes about being a writer in the middle of developing her book and making the mistake of asking published writers for advice.

“I made other terrible mistakes while I tried to write this book. I asked people who have already finished books for advice, which is akin to asking a mother with a four-year-old what childbirth is like. All the edges have been rounded and they have forgotten the pain.”

Guide to College Success ImageWhen I think back to my college days and even the earliest post-grad ones, I feel like that published writer or seasoned mom. My edges have been rounded and I’ve certainly forgotten the pain (and pleasure for that matter). But, I got to take a trip down memory lane when I read “GenTwenty’s Guide to College Success.”

Perhaps the grand disclaimer is that there is not any one definitive guide for college success, as is the case for any era, path or finite season in life. But, there are certainly words of wisdom to inherit from those who have been there, done that and are sporting the battle wounds to prove it. That’s what “GenTwenty’s Guide to College Success” is all about. The book came together under the creation and direction of GenTwenty’s founder Nicole Booz with the work of more than a dozen contributors.

I approached this book from many different perspectives–former college kid, (somewhat) recent grad and blogger/writer. Based on those three outlooks, here are some of my thoughts about the book as well as my favorite picks of essays in the book most related to that particular identity.

Former college kid perspective
Admittedly it’s tough to channel the wayward soul I was in college, but I do think if I were still a student, this book would be incredibly helpful. It covers the gamut in terms of the many issues that pop up in college and the potential shitstorms that follow. From choosing a major to studying abroad and even the ins and outs of small talk when you’re at networking events, the book offers up something for most scenarios in college. And, it also does so in a straightforward, digestible and relatable way. It’s way too easy for those have already endured the college experience to patronize students still in school, and I appreciate that “GenTwenty’s Guide to College Success” doesn’t do that.

My fave picks for current college students:

“Step 1A: Fueling Your Passions (And Not Your Parents’)
“Step 2: Creating Your X Year Plan” (especially the bit about not relying on college advisors to make decisions for you, yes!)
“Step 19: College Money Traps And How To Avoid Them

Recent graduate perspective
College students are definitely the target demographic for this book, but there are also gems for those just entering the hurricane that is post-grad life, particularly in the final “Planning For Your Future” section. The same way there is not a roadmap for college success, there also isn’t one for early adulthood, but there are definitely things I wish I knew more about ahead of time.

My fave picks for recent graduates

“Step 22: Understanding The Basics Of Credit And How To Build Yours”  (in the student finances section)
“Establishing Your Personal Brand”
“Building An Organic Mentor Relationship”

Blogger/writer perspective
Ironically enough, “GenTwenty’s Guide To College Success” resonates with me most as a blogger and writer–not because of any of the essays in the book, but because of how this book represents the clear sense of direction and brand awareness Nicole has for GenTwenty. There are a lot of books Nicole could have opted to publish, but this one is completely in sync with the mass of her audience. It’s organized well, easy to read and anchored with a solid cover design. A product like that will continue to propel GenTwenty’s brand.

My fave picks for bloggers/writers
“Managing Your Professional Twitter Account”
“Creating An Online Portfolio”
“Your Quick Speech: The Elevator Pitch”

If I could change anything?
The one thought I had while reading was that it would be cool if each essay had a suggested age/college year that piece was targeted toward. Something like “Recommended for Freshmen/Sophomores” italicized below the title or “Recommended for all.” The book is chock full of great tips, but everything isn’t always for everyone. That breakdown would make an already-wonderful book even more organized. Maybe we’ll see it for the second edition!

Much applause to Nicole and the GenTwenty team for a solid and well-done product. Head over to Amazon to purchase the book for a whopping $11.45 dollars!

And, now for a Twenties Unscripted announcement…

Spring 2015: Introducing the Twenties Unscripted Campus Reps Program!

I’m excited to officially launch and announce the Twenties Unscripted Campus Reps Program! In an effort to increase brand visibility and readership among college-age women, I’m expanding the tribe this year to include Campus Reps. Campus Reps will be my go-to girls, helping me to keep a pulse on what’s happening across campuses and how TU can be a part of that. They will keep my old ass young. And I love them for that.

To learn more about the program and apply, click here!

campus reps program flyer

My Life is Going, Not Just Through Summer

Guest Post by Emily Lin

Undoubtedly as summer ends and I make my way back to school, the question on everyone’s lips is going to be, “How was your summer?” Granted the only answer they expect is something along the lines of “Good!” or “Great!” Much like the “How are you?” question, these are perfunctory, lacking any semblance of actual care from the part of the asker.

Likewise, my answer of “It was great! I went to go see the Grand Canyon (hello-omitted-details-about-the-frustrations-of-traveling-with-family-or-anything-else-I-did-over-the-summer)” will also be routine. Nobody actually wants to know about how I waited tables or worked with an amazing woman on her blog over the summer. Nobody wants to hear the nitty-gritty details of server life and the chances of them tuning me out the second I say the word “feminism” are greater than the chances of this year’s winter being hella wonky again.

Despite that, I could go on about being a server in a futile attempt to try and make people more understanding, higher-tipping customers. And on about Tyece and Twenties Unscripted, about how it’s given me perspective on writing, perspective on life and perspective on the type of person I’d like to be. And on about spending time with my family, even if only for a week, I could probably spend hours talking about how my mother over packs, my dad is a workaholic and my sisters and I are amateur synchronized swimmers (or at least that’s what we tell ourselves), and how extremely grateful I am for all of them. And on about my senior thesis, otherwise known as “the thesis that never started,” and on about going to New York to visit friends and on about moving my boyfriend into his new apartment and on about losing my phone and on about….you get the picture.

However, I think the idea of asking someone about their summer is absurd. Granted this could be my school structure perspective talking; I don’t know how often “real people” get asked about their summers. But asking not only accomplishes nothing because it hides the truth behind an oversimplified easy response, but also because then it sets summer apart as this time of our lives where different things are supposed to happen, maybe even special things. We’ve secluded this three-month period, isolated it from the rest of our lives and then use it to “do those things we don’t usually have time to do.”

I know that it’s called summer break and I understand the necessity of rest and relaxation but does that equate to some sort of life-break too?

This phenomenon of “summer time” and “summer break” construction is like any other. In the same way that we’ve sectioned out the “twenties,” the “thirties” or the “prime” and the “retirement,” we’ve given ourselves a period of three months to fulfill an arbitrary purpose, some ‘other’ purpose, tangential to our ‘real lives’ that can technically be fulfilled at any other point in the year and in our lives.

“The time you have now is the same time you have when you’re thirty and the same time you have when you’re nearing the end of your earthly existence. It is all time. It doesn’t stop and it won’t wait.”

–Tyece Wilkins

Asking about summer carries with it the expectation of difference and with it the expectation of excitement. But my life is going through summer, fall, winter and spring with new things happening all the time. I want people to ask me how my spring is going, how my winter is going and how my fall is going because no matter what time of the year or time in life it is, it’s happening and I don’t want to wait three months after the fact to tell people about it.

My life is made up of not the seasons, not the months nor the weeks and the days but rather the overall passage of time from one to the next. I like to call it the present. It does not come in sections nicely portioned out to accord with an academic calendar or internship duration. Instead it flows, with the past pressing on the future and the future redefining its past.

“Life is most beautiful in its smallest doses, the fragments that we so easily forget.”

–Tyece Wilkins

This all came about when I was confronted this morning with the task of writing a “peace out” post for Twenties Unscripted, more or less wrapping up my summer with Tyece and all you lovely readers. I tried. I tried really hard to ask myself the question “How was my summer?” and then ended up taking a nap because trying to answer was exhausting.

So here’s what you get instead, a mildly whiny, somewhat philosophical piece of my take on time—which in retrospect actually sums up my summer pretty well. It’s been a time to reflect on the choices I’ve made and the choices I will make going forward about how I want my time to be spent because time, I’ve learned, is endlessly valuable but also notoriously perishable. It has also been a time to bitch and moan about those things in life that need to get done despite your unwillingness to do so (I’m looking at you laundry), and to grumble through the not-so-favorite jobs because money is necessary.

But this is life and in living it I want to let the experiences I’ve had with Tyece, with my co-workers at the restaurant and with my frustrating thesis mentor who won’t respond to my emails affect who I am becoming and ultimately will become in the future. Rest assured that means at the very least blog and Twitter updates as well as plenty of love and support for the Twenties Unscripted family.

Thank you and all the best,

Emily, the Intern who likes hats

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Time, Slipping Through Our Fingers

On Saturday night I found myself driving past my freshmen dorm. I asked a friend to grab dinner with me at a restaurant that I used to frequent during my college days. I quickly remembered a shortcut to get there as I got off the exit from the highway. And, then, there it was to my left. Good old Easton Hall.

“Yooooo, Easton!” I shouted to the empty air in my car and no one in particular.

Adjacent to Easton Hall is Elkton Hall where I lived my sophomore year of college. It’s hard to imagine that two years of my life exist in that cluster of the world. It’s hard to imagine that now in my very isolated and comfortable 1-bedroom existence, I survived a roommate, communal bathrooms, vomit in hallways and drunken yells of postpubescent women.

It’s not difficult to forget your college dorm once you’ve uprooted your life and taken residence in other places. Hell, it wasn’t difficult to forget those dorms during my junior and senior years when I moved across campus to the coveted apartments. But, driving by them on Saturday sparked a new sense of nostalgia.

It’s not that I ever miss college in some unshakeable way. I joked with one of my friends a few months ago that I was always built more so for adulthood than anything else. Even though adulthood has its ways of absolutely sucking, but that’s a story for another day. Nevertheless, college didn’t come naturally to me the way it did to some of my peers. At least not in the traditional party-most-of-the-time sense. I would observe people almost with a sense of envy, wondering what the hell was wrong with me as to why I didn’t want to go out nearly every night of the week. I was old enough to know I didn’t want to do certain things but not yet old enough to be comfortable with my introvert ways.

No, I don’t necessarily miss college. But, I do miss the ease of those days. It’s hard to believe it was seven years ago when I hauled Target storage bins, my entire wardrobe and my innocence up the steps of Easton Hall. Only bits and pieces from everything on that list would make it out at the end of the year. As I reminsced and transformed into a ball of nostalgia on Saturday night, I thought that soon enough, seven more years will go by. And then I’ll probably look back on my days as a 24-year-old blogging her life away and think “shit, I miss the ease of those days, too.”

Time is strange. It only exists in memories. The days pass and there is hardly ever much to distinguish one day from the next. And then you look back and years just slipped straight through your fingers.

Damn. I sound like I’m fucking 70 years old.

I don’t really know what my point is today. Usually I have some semi-philosophical close to my posts, but today I’m just nostalgic. Today I’m just hoping that I make the most of the days I’m given. I wonder that often. I wonder if I’m capitalizing on that one resource we’ve all been given but some of us seem to use so much better than others. People always say we are young and we have time. But, I don’t want to be one of those people who uses youth as as crutch or as an excuse to waste away or wait.

And, because I don’t have my standard semi-philosophical or sarcastic closing, I wanted to pull a quote that kind of, sort of sums up whatever the hell I’m trying to say.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine. Mary Schmich “Wear Sunscreen”

Xoxo,

Tyece