If You’ve Mastered It, You’re In The Wrong Place.

sure things

What the fuck am I doing?

That’s the thought that went through my head this weekend. After we celebrated and tweeted and you all purchased the book on presale at a rate far beyond what I anticipated.

What in the entire fuck am I doing?

That was the resounding scream that shot through my mind and in between my ears. See, this one is not like the other ones. This one is not the showcase or a brunch or a Twitter chat. This one is not The War on Black Women’s Bodies. This one is the book. This one is one that I’ve never undertaken before. This one is the one that jolted me awake one morning at 2 a.m. and kept me up until 6 a.m., even though I thought I abandoned all-nighters after college. This one is the one that had me going off the grid and not blogging for two weeks straight. This one is the one I’ve dreamed of, worked toward and worked for. This is the one that has me wondering what in the entire fuck am I doing?

The words I needed to hear didn’t come to me until I said them to someone else. About something else.

“When you feel like you don’t know what the fuck you’re doing, it means you’re doing the right thing. The minute you’ve mastered it, you are in the wrong place.”

I wondered why the passion started to wane. I wondered why I was dragging myself to my laptop each night instead of galloping to it like I once did. I wondered why I was waking up feeling like a sack of shit and going to bed feeling like a pile of bricks. I wondered why it didn’t feel good anymore. It didn’t feel fun anymore. It didn’t feel exhilarating anymore.

It’s because I was in the wrong place.

I had mastered it. I was doing the things I knew how to do. I was executing work that was only a staple of Twenties Unscripted, not a new addition to it. I was playing it safe. I was doing what I knew would work. After F-BOMBS crashed and burned last autumn, I got scared and went back to my sure things.

But, sure things do not erect dreams. Sure things do not build character. Sure things do not require courage. Sure things do not test boundaries. Sure things do not show you what you are made of. Sure things just allow you to sit smugly and execute flawlessly. Sure things are benches in broken and unfulfilled places. Sure things are accessories of complacency and the assumption that you have somehow done something in this life.

I was in the wrong place.

And I probably would have stayed in the wrong place if it weren’t for the words of my sister. “You should be proud; this is your first book.”

It was only supposed to be a compilation of essays. It was only supposed to be this marketing tool for the blog’s third anniversary. It was only supposed to be this limited edition thing that I kinda, sorta promoted and used to anchor the month. But, her words rattled me into reality. They reminded me that spending months upon months combing through essays and compiling a body of work is not “just a marketing tool.” It’s not just this thing I pulled out of my ass. It’s not  a limited edition item. It is a book. And I will treat, promote and honor it as such.

But, it means that I am back in the right place. I am nervous and scared and uncertain. But those nerves and that fear and that uncertainty remind me that I am doing the right thing. I am taking the right leap. Because I am excited. My heart’s racing again. The blood’s pumping again. And I am sitting up at 11:46 p.m. writing this post when I thought I was going to head to bed.

If you’ve mastered it, you are in the wrong place.

And if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re in the right place.

So, if you are in the right place, choose confidence over perfectionism. Faith over fear. Excitement over uncertainty. Lessons over mastery. Growth over expertise. The precariousness of being in the right place over the stability of being in the wrong one.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Purposeful Wanderlust: Lo Millie of “Can’t Stay Put”

Lo Millie Iceland
Lo Millie during her trip to Iceland

 

For many people, Monday morning is met with dread and angst. But not for Lauren Miller. In fact, on this particular Monday morning, Lauren, affectionately known as “Lo Millie”, is getting ready to embark upon an excursion that will immerse her in South African culture. But, this is not your typical trip. Instead, this is the latest journey in Lo’s collection of purpose-driven pilgrimages that she documents on her site Can’t Stay Put (CSP).

Lo’s previous nine to five existence as an event and marketing manager simply wasn’t enough. Like many millennials, she knew she craved more meaning and purpose in her life. So, on January 15, 2013, after putting in a 3-month notice at work, Lo left her job in search of something more.

“I told God ‘If you reveal to me what my purpose is, I promise I will run 100 miles per hour toward it'”, Lo recalled.

Lo, a Howard graduate with a degree in biology, found that purpose during a trip to Maui–an excursion she describes as her “Eat, Pray, Love” moment. Having started flying at the ripe age of five, she realized that she had not simply been bitten by the travel bug. Instead, she knew that the purpose she promised to run 100 miles per hour toward was to inspire others through her travel experiences. That’s how Can’t Stay Put was born.

Lo during her trip to Mumbai, India
Lo during her trip to Mumbai, India

Even though Lo had traveled to 15 countries before conceiving CSP, she knew she had to do an official CSP trip to launch and anchor the brand. So, she developed a proposal to crowd fund her very first CSP trip to Southeast Asia in May 2013. When she received a $2500 dollar donation from a contributor outside of her family, Lo’s purpose was affirmed.

“I always knew that I was going to do something different, I just didn’t know what it was going to be,” Lo said. “Once I raised the money to go to Southeast Asia, it showed me I could do anything.”

The first two years of CSP were focused on building the brand. Lo needed to get to as many places as possible. So she gave up a lot of her living expenses, crashed on friends’ couches and used every bit of capital she could get her hands on from side gigs to advance her brand. But her tenacious efforts were not always met with support and positivity.

“A lot of people say they want to change their lives and don’t want to put forth the effort,” Lo stated. “You underestimate dreamkillers. You have to be very protective of your mental space when you’re trying to do something that’s strictly your vision.”

Lo en route to Thailand
Lo en route to Thailand

Now, Lo sees CSP as something that has transitioned from a platform to a full content creation company. Her travel experiences–which have included journeys to Southeast Asia, India and Iceland–are not about just posing for Instagram pictures. Instead the modern-day griot aims to inspire, educate and influence others.

“All of my trips have underlying themes,” Lo explained. “Traveling should be a show off kind of thing. I don’t intend to stunt on people; I want to teach and ignite people throughout the world through my experiences.”

During Lo’s latest journey, she will investigate the longstanding racial tensions in South Africa. In the wake of continued and extreme racial unrest in the U.S., she will seek to uncover the real issues, documenting the essence of her discoveries through photography.

When asked what advice she would give to young adults looking to fulfill their own wanderlust, Lo said it’s important to understand the difference between travel and vacation.

“If we see it as a vacation, we see it as a luxury. And if we see it as a luxury, we think we can’t afford it. But travel can transcend you to another place,” she said.

While Lo’s story is filled with wisdom and insight, she says it’s her father who has been her biggest inspiration and given her the best advice.

“My father has been an entrepreneur ever since I’ve been alive,” Lo said. “He always told me two things: there are two working days after Friday and two working days before Monday; don’t be a weekend person. And don’t get too comfortable signing the backs of checks. You want to sign the front.”

Keep up with Lo during her South Africa trip by visiting www.cantstayput.com and following her on Instagram @cantstayput_. 

2014: A Year of Questions and Answers

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.”

 

 

Countdown To 25: No Choice But To Keep The Faith

This post is part of The Layers of Self-Discovery Tour created by GG Renee of All the Many Layers.  Follow the tour through the blogs of 26 women exploring the complexities of womanhood and self-discovery from A to Z.  Click here to keep up with each post and enter to win a giveaway package full of goodies for your mind, body and soul.   #LayersAtoZTour

I don’t open up my Bible much these days.

When I opted to write about “faith” for GG’s #LayersAToZTour, the first reference that popped into my head was Hebrews 11:1– “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” I’ve known that verse for years upon years now. I learned it as a little girl, long before its importance would reveal itself and plant my feet on solid ground. I decided to pull out my barely-used Bible and turn to the verse. It didn’t seem like just a coincidence when I saw that the verse was highlighted, a faint spill of yellow coloring the aging page.

faith

It’s impossible to write about these months and days leading up to my birthday without considering my evolution as a writer. That evolution is one that has required bundles of faith this year. More faith than I ever knew I had. More faith than I ever wanted to have. More faith than I ever thought I could or would have. Faith in my vision. Faith in myself. Faith in the people around me.

Somewhere at different pockets of the year, I lost faith in all of those things. Not always at the same time. But, I lost faith. Because, this year, the stakes got higher. This year, the waters ran deep. This year, the brick walls rose up. This year, it wasn’t just about spitting off a blog post and kekeing with some people. This year, it wasn’t just about retweets or likes. No, this year, I started putting my money on the line. This year I invested more time and energy than I ever invested before. This year, I couldn’t produce bullshit and think people wouldn’t see straight through it. This year, I had to step up. I had to grow up. I had to show up. I had to work my narrow ass off. And, all of those things required inordinate amounts of faith.

As I write this, it is a Friday night and I just finished pitching the women’s studies departments of all the local DC universities about FBOMBS. Events are tough to sell. Events exclusively for women are even tougher to sell. Events where you’re asking people to actively participate and and not just spectate are especially tough to sell. FBOMBS is all of the above. People can’t come to FBOMBS and just sit on their phones the entire time. That’s a deterrent for some people. True engagement in today’s world is scary for some people. But, in branching out to do events this year, I’ve learned how to muster up some faith. I had a vision for this event earlier this year and I’m holding on to a hell of a lot of faith to see that vision through.

It’s easy to do anything when you know the end result. We like guarantees. We like a sure thing. But, making your dreams a reality is not a sure thing. Making your dreams a reality requires you to step out on faith. The other day I read a Roxane Gay quote that said, “You never know when or if you’ll get a big break as a writer. You write and write and write and hope that someone out there will discern what you believe is in that writing, and then you write and hope and wait some more.” That, my friends, is the epitome of a writer’s definition of faith.

There are not any guarantees. There are not any promises. There is no crystal ball to tell you if or when you’ll make it. Sometimes as a writer, it is just you. The brisk thoughts sprinting through your brain. The email abyss you’re sending that pitch to. The empty seats in the audience you’re writing for. The other person who got an opportunity you applied for. The insatiable thirst you never seem to quench. Writing is not for those who can’t endure streams of loneliness. Sometimes a writer, there is only faith, pockets chock-full of it, to keep you afloat. There is only the unwavering conviction that this thing, whatever the thing is, will happen for you. Because, if the faith dies, you die. If the faith dies, the vision withers away. The tribe walks away. The spark eclipses. The faith keeps you from hitting the bottle until you black out. The faith keeps you from driving yourself mad. The faith keeps your feet on solid ground. That is why I have no choice but to keep the faith.

Xoxo,
Tyece

F Bombs SM Piece FINALFBOMBS: Feminism, Failure and Fearlessness is a roundtable discussion and networking event that will invite women to share their stories, opinions and truth. The event will take place Saturday, Oct. 25 from 3:30-6:30 p.m. at THEARC DC. Purchase your tickets here.

 

When It’s Time To Take The Proverbial Leap Of Faith

On Saturday night, I got to hear one of my favorite spoken word artists in person for the second time. I’ve admired Rudy Francisco ever since I stumbled upon him by chance three years ago when I attended the National Poetry Slam finals in Cambridge, MA. Suffice it to say ever since then, I’ve probably listened to his YouTube videos more times than the appropriate amount.

Rudy featured at the Louder Than A Bomb DMV Teen Poetry Slam Finals this past weekend (where I also got to reunite with one of my little boyfriends from the showcase). During Rudy’s set, he mentioned how he used to perform statistical analysis before he became an artist full-time. The anecdote stuck with me as it mirrored many of the anecdotes I’ve heard from artists and writers whom I respect. Demetria Lucas and her exit from her coveted role as the relationships editor at Essence. Necole Kane and her move to NYC. And even women close to me like my writer kin GG Renee Hill who shared at “Brunch, Blogs and Books” how she left her job after a nervous breakdown and realized that she wasn’t doing the right thing.

All of these stories give me hope, but they also scare the shit out of me. Because, I know deep inside at my core, I will eventually arrive at one of these leap of faith moments.  I do not know if my leap of faith will come in the form of a move or a career shift or the courage to begin a new project. Hell, I don’t know; it could quite possibly come as as all of the above. All I know is that given my passion and the direction of my life, I will undoubtedly reach that sort of fork in the road.

Leaps of faith both encourage and frighten people who have yet to take them. Because, for every leap of faith that results in someone landing successfully in a place where they are meant to be, there are 10 other leaps of faith that result in someone going splat. What’s that statistic about 90% or something of start-ups failing? Yeah, that.

I’ve always been someone drawn to practicality. Security. Assurance. Structure. In the few post-grad years I’ve secured under my belt, I know that bills and loans and obligations are very real things. They do not vanish; they sit right there and wait for you to tend to them. And, if you do not tend to them, they transform into screaming beasts littering your credit report. In that regard, security (namely financial security) is a very beautiful thing.The flip side of that is that I dream really big, I love really hard and I nurse another half whose success relies on blind faith.

The two halves constantly compete, but there is a large part of me that knows if I want the kind of life I’ve always craved, the dreamer side will have to win. I told my sister last week that I’m willing to do what other people won’t to get to where other people can’t. I don’t know if that was just the most audacious statement I’ve made in awhile or if it really hosted some truth. Probably both.

I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since my fingers had enough strength to grab a pencil. In my freshman journalism class, they divided us into four groups based on why we chose journalism as a major and, like the overzealous freshman I was, I stood in the group that said we wanted to change the world. I dropped out of the major a semester later. Some days I wish I had the gall to still stand in the group that says it wants to change the world. Some days I’m still naive and overzealous enough to believe that I can. But, as I’ve gotten older, I have started to wonder what does being a writer really look like? Do I have to mold and adapt my perception of that career? Will it always be just my side hustle? I wonder if I am or ever will be good enough for writing to sustain me full-time. I’m not sure. I don’t know. All I know is that when I arrive at the fork in the road, one path may lead me to security and one may require me to leap in faith. I pray to every possible deity that I have the balls to take the latter.

Xoxo,

Tyece