Now Is Not The Time To Run


Now is not the time to run.

I know.

I know fear would have you think that this is the precise moment when you should collect all of your belongings, cram them into your knapsack, and make your way to the nearest exit. History would tell you that right now is about the time when things begin to fall apart. Your head would convince you that this is as good as these things are ever going to get, so strap up your Nikes and zoom away. Do not take the risk. Do not pass go. Do not give any more. Do not try any harder.

Leave now.

Leave now before tears are shed and wounds are opened and knees have buckled. Leave now while all of your pieces are still together and all of your dignity is still in tact.

But, no. Now, my dear, is absolutely not the time to run.

See, I know you’ve been here before and are so sure of how this pendulum is going to swing, but what you have not quite learned is what lies only two steps beyond this familiar fear of yours. You do not know how it feels to push yourself forward because this is always the point where you get knocked down. You’re waiting for the fear to do what it always does–break you. Crush you. Smash you. Make a bloody mess out of you. Send you out of the ring.

But, that is not how this story goes. This is not the time to run.

The fear is not just magically going to vanish. There will not be a day when you wake up suddenly free of the shivers and shakes. Your fear will not begin to cloak someone else’s body and make a home there. It does not work like that. Fear does not fail until or unless you force it to malfunction. Until you muzzle it. Until you give it one last kiss goodbye before you take the two steps. Fear does not fail until or unless you choose to move forward and taste the manna of your evolution.

Do not run. Sit at the table. Taste the manna. Lick the plate clean. Kiss the fear goodbye.

This is the breeding ground for growth like you never knew and growth you never knew you needed.

Let your heart stretch now; it will change you forever. Let your spirit feel now; it will change you forever. Set your mind free now; it will change you forever. Everything in this moment now is bound to change you forever.

So, do not run. Lay your burdens down, tuck your Nikes back under the bed, and exhale.

One step forward.

Then one more.

But, whatever you do, please do not run.


I Burn Buildings, I Wreck Promises.


I like to burn buildings before the blueprint’s even finished. A friend of mine tells me that I “kill shit before it’s even had a chance to breathe.” And by shit he means the prospect of romantic love. He means mild flirtations and swelling possibilities and school girl crushes and pitter patters of the heart. I like to cradle these fledglings of love in my hand and then crush them before they reach adolescence.

I don’t trust men’s emotions just as much as I don’t trust my own. I don’t trust the woman I melt and mold myself into when someone captures my attention and I cling on for dear life. I don’t trust the woman I become when that all or nothing side of me very quickly snaps into “all.” She is such a diluted and second-rate version of the woman I’m trying to be. She makes me roll my eyes and suck my teeth. That woman gets imprisoned in her own fragility and becomes a puppet to someone else’s evanescence. She makes lifelines out of mixed signs and laughs at jokes that aren’t funny. She bites her tongue for fear of seeming too brash. Too insecure. Too boisterous. Too much.

She is why I burn buildings before the blueprint is finished. She is why my mind does not weigh any of the possibilities, but instead demolishes them all. One by one. I sit behind the wheel of a bulldozer, shift the gear into drive, and wreck all of the promises love wants to let blossom.

That woman I melt and mold myself into is why I have a litany of jokes bundled in my back pocket about how I will be single forever with 40 cats or how “You know I always crush on one artsy guy every year and it doesn’t go anywhere; it’s just par for the course.” She is why I brush off my sister when the potential of me with someone else dances off her tongue in dead seriousness. This woman is the reason why swelling romantic possibilities always only seem to suffocate me. So, instead, I shrink myself into a ball of cynicism and declare that things won’t ever work. I’m being silly. He “definitely does not like me like that.” Because there is some sort of sweet and sick satisfaction in letting my skepticism call the shots.

See, it’s not the men who frighten me. It’s the woman I’ve witnessed myself become when I’m with them.

But, maybe I am only fooling myself. Because that woman, flooded by her own insecurities, is still present. She is the punchline in my cynical jokes and the period in my doubtful declarations. That woman has only undressed herself, replacing her former veil of hypersensitivity with an armor of sarcasm and suspicion. But, that woman is still very much here–unsure of how to love and even more unsure of who to love in this new courageous, confident, and purpose-centric skin she’s in. She is afraid that she’ll mess it all up and fight to bounce back. She is afraid it will become 2010 all over again, and she will sob when a man berates her and walks out the door with his suitcase behind him. That woman is still somewhere inside of me, scared to death to let it all go and trust someone wholly to hold her heart.


WYAO April general promoThis post is part of Write Your Ass Off April, a 10-day writing challenge to create your most naked, brave, and no holds barred writing. Ready to do this thing? Learn about the challenge here and share your work on social media using the hashtag #WYAOApril. 

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.


They Keep Asking Me About You.

they keep asking me about you

Everyone keeps asking me about you. You. Abstract you. You who I’ve conjured up in one million dreams and thought about while stuck in stand still traffic. You with a wild heart and an untamed spirit. Passionate, patient and completely nonexistent you.

I’m running out of answers.

I’m running out of polite and politically correct ways to tell people that I just haven’t found you yet. I’m running out of excuses and I’m running out of feel good things to say. I’m running out of other things to talk about when I’m drinking down mimosas at brunch and my girlfriends ask me “So, are you dating?” I’m running out of dirt to fill the ditches in my mind anytime I get a moment to myself and wonder where the hell you could be. I’m running out of detours away from the mess of a construction site that is my heart. I have to stop taking the circuitous route and deal with that heart head on.

Maybe I should first open up the windows and let the ghosts of every love lost fly away. Maybe this house is still brewing and breathing with all of the phantoms of my unrequited affection. All the apparitions of our bad decisions. All the spirits of love gone wrong. Maybe I have not yet eulogized my broken heart and buried it along with the sin soaked sheets of yesteryear. Maybe I am still hoping and waiting and wishing on shooting stars.

Or maybe I should not open up the windows. Maybe I should just burn this house to the ground. Build it back up from the ashes. Maybe that is the only way to let go of it all.

Or maybe I am afraid. No, not maybe. I am absolutely and unequivocally afraid. I’m afraid that someone will be so perfect for me or so ruinous for me, and either way that would mean having to shed my layers and let them in. I’m afraid to open up the junk drawers of my past and pull the blanket above all my shit I hide under the bed. I’m afraid that I will fall hard and then you’ll decide one day that love doesn’t live here anymore.

That is why I always get close, but not too close. It’s why I always take on the role of friend without ever reading over the script to audition for the role of soulmate. Because I’ve watched my heart burst and have been left to hold her when she breaks. I know my love is a forest fire that engulfs every bit of me. I know my love knows no bounds and crosses all boundaries. I know my love is true and mad and deep and dense and savage. I know my love is my greatest natural disaster.

Everyone keeps asking me about you.

And I can’t tell them that I’m working on the book. I can’t tell them that I’m looking for a new job. I can’t tell them that I would rather remain single or that I’m really not into dating right now. Those would all be lies. The book is done. The new job is secured. And last week when the dentist jabbed my gum with a shot of local anesthesia, all I could think was that I wanted someone there to hold my hand. Maybe that someone was you. You. Abstract you. Passionate, patient and completely nonexistent you.


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.