Meet the Devils on My Shoulders

devil on my shoulders

Let me introduce you to devil #1. I call her inadequacy.

She likes to sit back and remain quiet for a long time. She likes to watch me work and build and create and produce. She likes to watch me accomplish the things I set out to do. And the minute I’ve traversed some ridiculous mountain, inadequacy likes to beckon me to look at Facebook. Then Instagram. She urges me to digest a lot of status updates about other people’s engagements and blooming love lives. Then she gets really close and whispers that everything I have done, everything I want to do and everything I will do are all diluted by my lack of a partner. Devil #1 doesn’t think my success is enough without someone to share it with. Devil #1 ignores the fact that I have family and friends–a community so close knit, bundled and bound around me that I am already sharing my success with a cavalry of supporters.

I tell devil #1 to stop whispering. I tell her that her whispers can’t ever get louder than the stomps of my cavalry.

Meet devil #2. I call her fear.

She’s not as aggressive as devil #1, but her passivity and silence are probably worse. She’s always there putting doubts in my head and delusions in my heart. She never knows shit about what’s coming next, but that doesn’t stop her from thinking that whatever comes next is going to destroy me. She doesn’t know rainbows, only storms. She doesn’t acknowledge triumphs, only trials. She doesn’t put faith in the future; she gives power to the past.

I tell devil #2 what I heard recently during one of my rare appearances in church: fear is only an illusion. Devil #2 is not even real.

Meet devil #3. I call her insecurity.

Devil #3 has always believed I’m an impostor. She has given in to the notion that I won’t ever truly make it as a writer without a journalism degree or bylines for major publications. Devil #3 doesn’t believe in creating my own legitimacy or carving my own path or establishing my own value. Devil #3 just thinks there is one way to do this thing, and she doesn’t think I’m doing it the right way.

I ask devil #3 to look closely at Twenties Unscripted. I invite her to see everything I have done without the resources she is so convinced that I need. I tell her that the bricks holding up this platform are those of self-discipline, resilience and raw talent.

The devils on my shoulders signify that I am flawed, fragile and fucked up. I introduced you to them so that you remember I am human. And when you are human, confidence is not always a natural asset. Confidence is learned. Built. Eradicated. Rebuilt. I brought you on this journey so that you can watch my confidence get built. Eradicated. And rebuilt. Again and again. I invited you in so that you could watch me quiet and quell every single devil on my shoulder.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Take A Deep Breath. This Is Going To Be Worth It.

take a deep breath

Sometimes it feels like you’re standing too close to the edge. It feels like one wrong move, one wrong word, one little thing that someone says, and you could crack. You could lose it all. Because you can. Sometimes you do. Sometimes you’re holding all of the pieces and juggling all of the glass jars, and then a sentence that would have been inconsequential suddenly breaks your back. You find yourself fighting back piping hot tears because no one ever seems to fucking get all that you’re doing, all that you’re working toward, all of these glass jars that you are juggling.

Breathe.

It feels like you haven’t given yourself enough margin for error. You have not taken a break. You have not taken a breath. It feels like the beginning stages of building your supposed empire are filled with crippling fragility. Everything feels so delicate, so pivotal. The stakes feel so high. You are learning that success is a very lonely place, sometimes a lonely pit. Mediocrity is a loud and crowded bar; success is a quiet studio apartment.

Breathe.

No, really, breathe. The way you learned how to do the other day at Yetti’s event, not just an exasperated and empty sigh. A real, true, deep breath. The one that fills your belly and relaxes your body. The kind of breath that reminds you that ooh child, things are gonna get easier.

Stop letting yourself internalize so much. I know. It’s a byproduct of your age. And that is just as stupidly condescending as it is blindingly true. You look at the women ahead of you in their thirties, forties, fifties and sixties and there is an ease about their confidence that you have yet to acquire. They speak freely. They are unapologetic. Life has shaken them, shaped them and sweetened them all at once. You are waiting for that kind of confidence.

Breathe.

But, you are a byproduct of a generation that sleeps, eats and breathes what everyone else is doing. You know too much about too many things that are way too irrelevant to your journey. But, being in your twenties is like being asked to walk firmly in five inch heels on top of cobblestone. The ground is so damn shaky, so sometimes you are confident and other times you are sure you’re about to bust your ass. Sometimes you do bust your ass. And sometimes that feels better than pretending you know how to walk on cobblestone in five inch heels all by yourself.

So, breathe.

Breathe and trust that all of your hard work is not just being dumped into the void. Even when it feels like it. Even when it seems that things are not moving as quickly as you would like or people are not understanding you as much as you would want. Even when your success feels like it has isolated you more than it’s elevated you. Even when you doubt yourself or feel a nasty blister of envy suddenly swell inside of you because of the woman who says nothing and musters 1,000 likes. Unfollow her. No, really. Unfollow her. Don’t even try to reconcile with yourself about people whom you owe nothing to and don’t even know. Don’t even try to rise above it; just detach. Preserve your sanity, even if it’s perceived as being petty. Because you, my love, are here to work. You are here to leave something special on this planet. You are here to create and connect. You are here to drop gems, fill hearts, take risks, challenge norms and stand close to the edge.

So, take a deep breath. I promise this all is going to be worth it.

Xoxo,
Tyece

The Insecurities We All Carry

“There are some things you can’t understand yet. Your life will be a great and continuous unfolding.” 
― Cheryl StrayedTiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

“I think that outward confidence is just a projection of his insecurities,” I said to a friend the other day. It was the kind of sentence that rolled off my tongue a little too quickly after years of therapy and self-analysis. It was also the kind of sentence that made me feel like a little shit, aware that I am in no place to assume how someone else’s insecurities manifest themselves when I have a difficult time managing my own.

I’ve been having a tough year and I haven’t felt that great about myself or my life for awhile. I keep thinking that the tide will turn and I’ll quit feeling so shitty. I keep thinking maybe it’s a bad dose of PMS every month and next month, the anxiety won’t settle in my veins like cement. I ran into someone the other night at the bar as we all reunited for Homecoming Weekend and she said, “I love your blog. You be going through some shit.” I laughed and thanked her, but I wondered and worried that maybe that is what this blog has become, just me going through some shit. I wondered and worried that maybe that’s who I’ve become, just a woman going through some shit without any productive place to store all of her insecurities.

Insecure [adj.]  subject to fears, doubts, etc.; not self-confident or assured: an insecure person 

2. not confident or certain; uneasy; anxious: He was insecure about the examination.

3.not secure; exposed or liable to risk, loss, or danger: an insecure stock portfolio.

4. not firmly or reliably placed or fastened: an insecure ladder.

When I look at all of the aforementioned definitions of the word “insecure”, they each resonate with some aspect of my current state. I don’t know if people consider me to be confident. On good days, I believe I am. But on not-so-good days, of which there have been plenty lately, I worry. I stress. I doubt. I don’t believe. I watched an interview where Vivica A. Fox told Oprah she once was not in a place to receive praise because she was on a “treadmill of success.” Or, maybe it was a treadmill to success. Either way, I thought, “Wow, yes. Finally someone putting my thoughts into words.” I haven’t been able to fully receive other people’s encouragement lately because the ground I stand on sometimes feels so damn rocky. I want to hear them. I want to believe them. Some days, I just don’t.

Some days, I get caught up in the highlight reel of other people’s lives via Instagram and Twitter. Some days, I see people’s dreams manifesting themselves in real, true, lasting ways and I fret that maybe I will always just be that girl who has that blog. I worry that I want this blog to be more than what it is. I want this blog to be a gateway to other things, but I worry that maybe I’m not working hard enough to make those other things happen. I worry that all I am are likes. Retweets. Social currency that has started to feel so fleeting it nauseates me to even pay attention to those numbers. I worry that my breakthrough happened a long time ago and that this is all there is.

Some days, I’m insecure about the little things. The rapid pace at which I speak and how easy it is for people to miss what I’m saying. The way my lips dry out like clock work. Using the word “like” too much in my sentences. Sweating more than the law should allow.

Other days, I’m insecure about the big things. The trajectory of my career. The outlook of my love life. How and when the stars plan to align for me, if that is indeed a part of their plan.

Some days, I’m insecure about the monumental things. The scars. The healing I have yet to do. When I will be able to love fully, healthily, wholly, despite all of my fuckedupness. Some days I’m insecure about how loudly the beast inside of me roars anytime I’m triggered and how idiotic I feel anytime I assume that beast was long dead.

Some days, I don’t want to reach the end of a blog post. I don’t want to stop hearing the pitter patter of the keys because it means the alternative is hearing the beating drum of incessant thoughts inside my head. I want to just keep writing. Pitter patter instead of thudfuckingthud.

But, on the better days, I remember that my insecurities are my hidden gems. I remember what my sister tells me every so often– “You’re not Tyunscripted. You’re Tyece. You’re a person.” I remember that without insecurities, I couldn’t be vulnerable, and without vulnerability, I could not be a writer. I remember that I am not who or what people think I am just as a result of pouring my life on a screen year after year, whether those perceptions are for better or worse. But, I remember that I am everything that happens in between the blog posts, in between the paragraphs, in between the filled pages. I am the moments late at night, awake with only my thoughts and the dark sky. I am the moments early in the morning, before my feet hit the floor to scurry through another day. My life isn’t happening on the page. The filled page is merely a reflection. A way to process. But, my life is happening in the footnotes. It’s happening in the margins. It’s happening in the hidden spaces that nobody else gets to see or read or feel or touch.

When I said “his outward confidence is just a projection of his insecurities” I could have been talking about myself. I could have been talking about anyone. Because, some days, that is all we have. Feign confidence in hopes that maybe soon enough we’ll actually be confident. But, our insecurities make us real. They make us raw. They make us open and susceptible to emotion. They make us human. As much as I would love to be superwoman, my insecurities will always remind me I am skin and bones, guts and heart. The insecurities force me to slow down, to meet myself with more grace and compassion, forgiveness and understanding. Grace and compassion. Forgiveness and understanding. Grace and compassion. Forgiveness and understanding. The only ways to manage the insecurities we all carry.

Xoxo,
Tyece

It’s Time for Women to Boss Up

My Nicki Minaj fandom sparked several years ago when I watched her MTV documentary “My Time Now.” There’s a scene in it where she’s donning a pink beehive wig and yelling about how she felt a fellow, nameless rapper owed her a favor and reneged on his promise. During the segment she says, “You have to be a beast. That’s the only way they respect you…when I am assertive, I’m a bitch. When a man is assertive, he’s a boss. He bossed up. No negative connotation behind bossed up. But lots of negative connotation behind being a bitch.”

Those few lines solidified the wig-donning rap beast in my world. She was finally speaking my language. I’ve thought about that segment a lot since I watched it almost four years ago and those lines have reverberated through my head more times than a few.

Last week, I received a series of direct messages from one of my blogger friends, Mike. He referenced the post I wrote titled, “Do Not Sleep on the Platform You’ve Been Given.” In that post, I referenced an email I received from a reader and immediately, almost unconsciously, watered down her appreciation for my work by making a few self-deprecating remarks. In Mike’s messages to me he said, “I hope you start to not be surprised by people reaching out to you and sharing how you’ve inspired them. Each time you write about a reader reaching out, it’s always with this disclaimer of how imperfect you are. Don’t you think that’s why people resonate with you?…So embrace the connection you are forging with people and stop prefacing it with self-depreciation. This is your life now.”

That was probably the best thing to hit my DMs since…well, ever.

Self-deprecation has always been a staple of my writing, but somewhere along the line, I started to confuse self-deprecation with humility. I assumed that starting most emails to readers with some version of “Thanks for thinking I’m great, but I’m really not that great” was humble–not unnecessary. To Mike’s point, I have to trust that my particular voice of authenticity and humanness comes through in my work without my having to announce it.

I thought about what Mike said a lot and about why women, self included, shy away from our greatness. I thought about so many of the thinkpieces I’ve read about women leaning toward nurturing or supportive roles and hardly ever taking credit for their success. I thought about my own successes and how it’s a knee-jerk response to say, “This was a group effort! Or, thanks to everyone who helped me; I couldn’t have done this alone!” without ever just saying thank you for being recognized. I thought about how much I rant and rave about women owning their shit and how hypocritical I felt for being so reluctant to really own my shit, particularly my success.

I believe there is a thin line between humility and arrogance, but there is also a thin line between humility and unnecessary self-deprecation. Perhaps I have thought that maybe my successes were more palpable if I watered them down with very imperfect details about myself. Ironically, those imperfect details are probably what contribute most to my success.

Maybe the greatest lie I’ve told myself is that my successes need to be palpable to anyone else in the first place. It’s as though I’ve convinced myself to only succeed within the confined margins of other people’s acceptance. That’s a giant load of bullshit. It’s kind of like that Drake line, “If I was doing this for you, then I have nothing left to prove.” My success does not have to be OK with anyone else. It does not need to be something everyone understands or knows how to digest. In fact, that kind of success is not success at all. If everyone gets it or likes it, you haven’t done enough yet. If everyone accepts it, you’re still rolling with a mediocre crowd. When you start pissing people off, that’s when you are making strides.

My success has to be OK with me. I have to go to bed with it at night and I have to wake up with it in the morning. I have to work for it and toward it. I have to want it. I have to forge the path and fight the demons. I’m the one who has to accept the grenade “bitch” being hurled my way when I stand up for myself and don’t take shit. I’m the one who has to boss up for it. I recommend all women do the same.

Xoxo,

Tyece