On The Days When I Wonder What I’m Doing With My Life

 

music stops

There are still days when the music stops. No matter how much you did, have done, or are about to do, there are still days when your well runs dry. You worry what’s next. You claw at the corners and beg them to bring you inspiration. You swing your feet at the edge of the cliff and shake your fists to the sky. It matters not how hard you’ve worked, how many hurdles you’ve jumped, or how many brick walls you’ve broken with your bare hands. There are still days when the music stops.

It seems as though those days never quite go away. Or, maybe they do and I simply have not taken enough breaths in this life to know it just yet. But, for me, those days do not end. Maybe they subside. Maybe they hibernate. Maybe they shrink from a roar to a whisper. But, there are still days that leave me feeling small and inconsequential, sunken and incomplete. There are still days when I cry for some sort of sign that I am on the right path, only to be met with a deafening whir of white noise.

I used to hate those days. And, perhaps I shouldn’t write that in past tense because I still do. I still hate those days. They leave me feeling dazed and confused, empty and inadequate. Those days leave me rolling my eyes at hashtags and sucking my teeth at Twitter chats. Those are the days that send me a shiny invitation for a coffee date with my stunning self critic. She sits cockily on the other side of the table. She tells me I am foolish and takes a sip of her drink. She tells me I should suck it up and settle for the life I have. She tells me I want too much. I expect too much. She narrows her eyes and asks me, “Who are you to have the audacity to want such an extraordinary life?” She sips. I sip. We drink until there’s nothing left.

Last week I had one of those days when the music stopped. 6:06 p.m. One of my last hourlong bus rides before moving for an easier commute. A dreary sky for the greater balance of the day. A day when nostalgia made a home in my heart and nested there for the afternoon. A hollow pit where bursts of creativity lived only a few weeks prior. A clear inbox. No one asking me what size paintings they should bring to the showcase or how long their set could be. A buzz of elevator music humming inside my little effervescent heart, the same place where a soundtrack of inspiration played days before. Yes, last week I had one of those days when the music stopped. Last week I had one of those days when I wondered what on God’s green and gritty earth I’m doing with my life.

But, I still had these words. I still had all these things and all these thoughts–spilling ferociously from my heart and pleading for a page to call home. Because, somehow, even when the music stops, my love for the craft keeps dancing to its unbreakable two step. When the music stops, I learn to savor the quiet and soak up the rest. When the music stops, I’m reminded that the passion does not. The fervor does not. The rush from conceiving new ideas and bearing witness as they come to life does not ever leave my veins.

On the days when I wonder what I’m doing with my life, that life tells me to turn on Norah Jones’ “Sunrise.” That life tells me to pour a glass of wine. That life tells me to keep walking down this jagged and narrow sidewalk with my heart open and my head to the sky. On the days when I wonder what I’m doing with my life, that life has already offered the answer by way of the fire that flows through my fingertips.

So, when the music stops, I rise to the challenge of writing a new song.

Here’s to a new season. Here’s to a new song.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Making Peace With The Uninspired Place

part of being creative

I keep waiting for the spark to strike. For the first time since I started producing “See. Speak. Feel.” two years ago, my energy for the show has flatlined. I’m going through the motions. Proofing content for the program. Emailing people with reminders and details. Thanking sponsors. But, it’s as though the fire has faded. I keep squinting my eyes and peering intently to find my “why” in all of this.

These words do not just feel like facts or statements; they feel like a confession. They feel like this thing I should only say in hushed tones or to close friends. Because “See. Speak. Feel.” is my offspring. It’s this very public thing that I’m tied to. And, I’m not simply responsible for pulling it off. I’m supposed to light the fire for everyone else in the show to feel. True to my purpose, I am supposed to embody the spark. It seems foolish, selfish, and short-sighted to confess that right now I just can’t find my flame. But, for the first time, I’ve wondered what the future of this show will look like. How will I truly grow it and elevate the vision? What am I doing that is so different from the next woman with only a few dollars and way too many dreams?

See, that’s what happens. The stakes get higher. The standards raise. And, the pat on the back you once gave yourself for simply pushing something over the goal line is no longer enough. Sweet as it is, success is also maddening and insatiable.

So, yes, I keep waiting for the spark to strike. I know it’s there. I know that my “why” is buried somewhere underneath the calories I’ve burned pushing this boulder uphill. I also know that it’s counterproductive to lug around ten bricks of guilt simply because I do not feel inspired or charged or awakened yet by this show. And I am learning that part of being creative means making peace with the uninspired place. Part of being creative means giving yourself license and freedom sometimes not to create. Not to inspire. Not to ignite. Part of being creative means freeing up enough mental and emotional space for the inspiration to reach you. Inspiration struggles to strike a cluttered mind or a chaotic heart.

These are the things we do not always tell you. And, by we, I mean this anonymous glob of writers and entrepreneurs and artists. As much as we craft narratives from our mistakes and humanity, we shy away from bringing you into our doubtful and dim places live and direct. We tell stories in past tense and own up to our blunders in retrospect. And, there is something special to be said for those stories. But, we aren’t supposed to tell you about the mental mud and mess behind the things you see us building in real-time. Someone somewhere would tell me that’s bad branding.

However, here I am. Mud and mess. Less than a month to the biggest and most important event I produce every year without my spark and waiting pretty impatiently for it to show up. But, I am  going to make peace with this uninspired place. I am dropping off my ten bricks of guilt on the side of the road. Because if the spark doesn’t appear, I know where to find sticks and where to buy matches. I know that the most important part of being creative is learning how to start your own fire.

Xoxo,
Tyece

 

The Doubt That Still Lingers

 

When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.-2

The doubt doesn’t sit in my stomach the way it once did. It doesn’t swallow me whole or render me helpless for days on end the way it used to back in 2014. Success and I have this history now–that complicated, love/hate sort of history. We’re familiar with one another. We’ve learned how to handle each other in ways that are graceful and careful and far less codependent than they once were. I do not parade her around like I once did. I’m a bit more overprotective of her than I should be. Yet, somehow, I still don’t trust my success enough. Success and I still don’t stand closely enough to one another. So, there’s this sliver of space left between us. That’s where doubt closes in.

For weeks, I’ve been thumbing through the Twenties Unscripted strategic plan, this wonderful and daunting behemoth of a document that my talented friend Jazz and I worked on together late last year. It’s filled with objectives and charts and quotes from my fellow bloggers. It is also the closest thing to a mirror I’ve ever had held up to my work in the past three and a half years. It’s more than my own opinions or assessments. It’s rooted in stats and interviews; it holds a much more objective lens up to the past few years. The first night I plopped down to read it, I got stuck on page 17.

“Twenties Unscripted, while appreciated within its circle of long-time readers and by other writers, is putting forth events and promotion efforts that are not garnering adequate local awareness, media coverage, or engagement. Without a growth in recognition and engagement both on and offline, the blog and brand will begin to cost more money than it makes and runs the risk of being pushed to the side by Wilkins for more tangible career goals–which would mean the loss of yet another important voice for Black women in a culture–and city–that needs every strong, intelligent, and unflinchingly honest Black woman willing to share her truth.”

It felt like ouch. It felt like that minute you realize your finger touched the oven, but the blister already started to form. And, yet, when reading that paragraph over and over again, I knew how much icy hot truth ran through those words. I wondered and worried that there would be this doomsday where reality pushes my dreams to the passenger seat. I wondered and worried that if this blog does not grow, it will undoubtedly begin to cost more money than it makes. I wondered and worried that I might let my voice grow quiet and dim in a world that evidences just how much it needs my truth. Of all the things that could happen–a collision with reality, losing money, or silencing my voice–silencing my voice is the one that would eat me alive.

 

The things I still want feel like airplanes and trains and spaceships away. The life I see for myself still feels like airplanes and trains and spaceships away. Some days there aren’t enough positive affirmations to quell the villains that shout into my ear. I wish there were. I wish there were enough Twiter chats, Periscope videos, and Instagram images to shut down the doubting devil in my head whose favorite question is, “Is this all worth it?”

But, there’s also something oddly comforting about the doubt. It reminds me that I am not all I want to be nor all I can be just yet. It pushes me to prove it wrong. It encourages me not to stand too closely to success, and to find something a bit sunnier to fill that space. It inspires me to look hard at every single one of the footprints I’ve already stamped on the mountain in my uphill battle toward that life I crave.

I almost didn’t want to say write these things, like I’ve reached this point where shining such a bright light on my doubt is a bad creative decision. Or like I couldn’t package these scattered and spread out thoughts in a way symbolic of my writing style. But, then I remembered I’m human. We aren’t ever above our own humanity, complex and messy as it might be. And humanity is not always about sunshine, nor is it always about rain. Sometimes, it’s just about the clouds that you can’t quite see your way through.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Book Release Day: No More Fire Escapes

She’s here! Twenties Unscripted: A Journey of Womanhood, Writing, and Relativity is available for purchase as a paperback, Kindle book or PDF download. Signed copies can be purchased here.

Thank you to everyone who purchased presale copies as well! And remember, if you’re in DC, join me tonight at Culture Coffee for the official book launch party. Event kicks off at 7 p.m.


 

“Honeyyyy! Nooooooo. No, no, no. Nope. You will continue to work, you will continue to promote this incredible body of work that’s a true labor of love, and you will be okay and say fuck off to that doubt and perfectionism. You will NOT pull the plug. You will NOT do this to yourself right now, in this moment, hours before your major arrival to the world, and you will NOT be your own worst enemy right now. NOPE.”

That’s what Erica said at 10:58 p.m., approximately 24 hours and 2 minutes before the official release of my book.

I’m good at looking for fire escapes.

In 2011, I took the LSAT and canceled my score less than two hours after walking out of the exam room. Last fall I canceled FBOMBS with less than a week to go before the event. And at 10:58 p.m. on Tuesday, July 14, I wanted another fire escape. Frustrated by the maddening process of formatting the book for Kindle and defeated by other glitches that I could no longer control, I started looking for the fire escape. I was tired of my inner perfectionist whipping me and reprimanding me and kicking me for all of the things I could have or should have done while curating the book. So, my inner perfectionist told me to search for the fire escape. She told me to plot my exit strategy. She told me that maybe I could still cancel the venue for the book party and maybe I could explain to my readers that there would be a delay in the release and maybe I could go back to the drawing board.

No one speaks as terribly to me as the thoughts in my own head do. The thoughts in my own head are the villains in the eleventh hour.

I lied down on my futon, the one that’s missing a spring and really needs to be replaced, but alas, it is not tax refund season. I put a pillow over my face and left just enough room to breathe. I couldn’t drown out the clamorous thoughts in my head, the ones that said I wasn’t good enough and the book wasn’t good enough and I should have waited longer and what the hell did I really think I was doing.

Then I got up and reread Erica’s text.

Erica knows how good I am at finding fire escapes.

She wasn’t going to let me out of this one. She wasn’t going to tell me to heed to perfectionism under the guise of following my spirit. She wasn’t going to say it was OK to do what I wanted to do. She wasn’t going to let me take the easy route. She wasn’t going to let me go into full blown fixer mode and call a venue to cancel an event or draft a post explaining to readers why there was a delay. Not on her watch.

The villains in the eleventh hour will summon you to stifle your gift if you let them. The doubts and fears and perfectionistic cries never, ever go away. It’s maddening. But, eventually, you have to let the doubts flutter. Let the fear fly. Let the perfectionist cry. When they show up, it means you are on the precipice of something life-changing.

Today there is a shift in my journey. And it is not just because you can search “Twenties Unscripted” on Amazon and a Kindle book will pop up (as badass as that feels). But today there is a shift because I have stood by my truth in a lasting and definitive way. When you blog, you can go back and delete. You can change your mind and take things down. You can publish things and not think twice about them after. You can’t exactly do that with books. This book has forced me to revisit my past in hopes of setting a more firm foundation for my future. This book is my imprint, my stamp and my mark. This book is 38,000 words of shedding layers, sharing stories, standing up and speaking out. It is putting myself out there and revealing my scars in a new, more frightening and much more substantial way.

“Whatever happens to you belongs to you. Make it yours. Feed it to yourself even if it feels impossible to swallow. Let it nurture you, because it will.” –Cheryl Strayed 

There are not any more fire escapes. There are not any more exits in the eleventh hour. This is the next step in a journey of womanhood, writing, and relativity. This is the precipice of my something life-changing. So I thank you now and 100 times over for being on this journey with me.

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