Like It Or Not

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My life’s story is chock full of unpopular truths. Raw truth. Stark truth. The kind of truth that does not fill people with the warm and fuzzies or always leave them coming back for more. Perhaps I’ve always known this, but I didn’t realize it fully until Sunday night.

During the first episode of Startup Is The New Black it was my job, alongside cohosts Briana and GG, to discuss the business of writing. I prefaced something I said with, “I don’t think a lot of people like to hear this, but…” My suspicions were confirmed because in real-time, people had the ability to like what I was saying, or more accurately click a button to give me “props.” As I spoke, my eyes couldn’t help but dart to the props emoji and notice if something I said received a flurry of likes or not.

We’re typically affirmed or invalidated via likes in retrospect–an old photo we post, a status update we publish. But, we’re rarely substantiated by those insatiable and intoxicating likes real-time, where every little word escaping our lips is on the chopping block. It’s like the jury deciding the verdict before the prosecution has had a chance to rest its case.

I walked away from that evening feeling out of sorts and disjointed from my purpose. What was a new and exciting opportunity so graciously offered to me dissolved into my own internal battle for a social media stamp of approval. For the first time in a long time, I questioned my own story and how I chose to tell it.

I closed the laptop and called one of my friends.

“I told people that I still work full time. That none of this happened overnight. I told them that it took five years before I made my first dollar from writing. And I don’t know if they liked any of it,” I said.

“But, that’s the truth, isn’t it?” he asked.

Of course it’s the truth, albeit not a resoundingly resonant one. And how could I blame the audience? Anytime I learn someone is an entrepreneur, artist or anything outside of the 9 to 5 mold, I’m instantly drawn to them. I want to pitch a tent in their mind, stay awhile, and learn the lay of their land. I want to ask questions and extract every single ounce of advice. People who thrive outside of the mold intrigue and inspire me, simple as that.

At the same time, life outside the mold is not my current reality. Not now, anyway. My truth is that I still have 20k+ in student loans and $1300 dollars a month to pay in rent. My truth is that I am solely responsible for keeping the lights on in apartment 202 and keeping a feisty feline named Roxy fed. My truth is there are these silent moments when I thank God for stability and the chance to build my dream without it hinging on a dollar.

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There are other unpopular truths. The things that have happened for me have taken a lot of work, patience, sacrifice, juggling, resilience, and lost sleep. They didn’t appear overnight. I never went viral. No one aside from my mama gave a shit about what I so freely wrote online for an entire year. I’ve burned bridges; I’ve lost battles. I’ve cried over emails lexically ripping me a new one. I’ve kicked myself for words I wish I would have garnered the guts to say.

None of us this has come easy. All of it has been a fight. And even four years in, I feel like I’m in the most nascent stages of my creative career. See, my truth is that I still battle inadequacy, doubt, and the temptation to give up on a routine basis. But, somehow, my passion pushes me out of the cave and back into the sun every single time.

These aren’t statements or stories that people immediately gravitate toward. They do not feel good and they certainly don’t paint a rosy, easy-to-come-by portrait of success. My pursuit of the American Dream, obtained by way of balancing gigs while pulling myself up from the boot straps, is a narrative people hardly want to hear, let alone live. Nonetheless, if you want anything remotely worthwhile in this life, you have to both put up and shut up. You have to do the work. If you want it overnight, you clearly do not want it badly enough.

So, that is the story I have to stand by. It is the only success story I can tell. And maybe I have to remind myself to tell that story unwaveringly, like it or not.

Xoxo,
Tyece

A Generation Drunk Off Dreaming

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I’m waiting for someone to start telling the truth. I’m waiting for an entrepreneur to emerge from the woodworks and tell us all that six months ago she was forced out of a job and left up shit’s creek without a paddle. I’m waiting for someone’s success story rooted in mayhem and built from the storm. I want that story now. While she’s knee-deep in mud and neck high in uncertainty.

I’m waiting for something other than a quote urging me to rise and grind.

I’m waiting for people to stop trying to monetize every single thing. I’m waiting for people to produce work that is truly worth investing in. See, when I start suffocating under the pressure to make money, I remind myself to never forget job number one: write good shit. Tell beautiful stories. String together strong sentences. Pen essays that vibrate and linger. Whip up soul food in a world that binges on cotton candy. The money will come. The growth will come. But never forget job number one.

I’m waiting for the moment when we stop drinking dream propaganda and start feeding ourselves substance. I’m waiting for us to stop deifying leaps of faith while we denounce good old common sense. I’m waiting for someone to say that dreams never paid bills and Sallie Mae never accepted “living the life you love” as currency. I’m waiting for us to declare that there may indeed be a long and windy road from the life you’re living to the life you love. And I’m waiting for us to say that is OK. There are levels to this shit.

I’m waiting for us to stop overdosing on Instagram inspiration and start healing our wounds. Doing the real work. Laying our burdens down.

I’m waiting for us to be more patient with ourselves and even more patient with out dreams. I’m waiting for the day when we say “stay low and build” and we truly stay low and build. Not stay low and get rich quickly. Not stay low and quit your job tomorrow. Not stay low and learn how to earn $1,000 dollars in one hour. But truly stay low and build. Brick by brick. Layer by layer. Day after day. Year after year.

I’m waiting for us to unsubscribe from the bullshit.

I’m waiting for you to tell me the truth. And, if you won’t, I will keep telling you mine.

Xoxo,
Tyece

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

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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

Respect The Time, Honor The Craft.

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This post is not politically correct.

This post is not rainbows or sunshine or that jolt of encouragement you’ve been waiting for to finally get off your ass.

This post is the byproduct of an over saturated blogosphere, an Internet crammed with bullshit, an epidemic of laziness, a warped version of the American Dream that has substituted the value of hard work with the currency of Instagram likes. This greedy and nasty and entitled way that we’re living is not what our parents moved to America for. It’s not why they got their asses up out of the projects and moved to the burbs to make a better life for their kids. They didn’t do all of that just so that we can do it for the likes. No, they did that shit for our LIVES. And this lazy way we think we’re going to make it through, trying to bargain social media hits for effort and work, is an insult to them.

No, this post is not politically correct.

This post is 11:34 p.m. when I should be crawling into bed, but instead can’t stop thinking about how much I want to start begging people to respect my time and honor my craft.

This post is that post that makes people think that Tyece has a stick up her ass, or thinks her shit doesn’t stink or swears she’s better than everyone else. This post is that post laced with enough audacity and I-dont-give-a-fuck to negate all of those assumptions and perceptions. Because this post is about hard work and demanding respect for hard work, and never accepting anything less than when people choose to honor hard work.

This post is 1 a.m. Google docs and 7 a.m. checks on shipping statuses. This post is 7 p.m. coming home from work to eat, watch a show and settle in for a second round of work. This post is 11 p.m. on Friday nights working on Sunday Kind of Love for that weekend. This post was four nights of writing a week in 2014. This post is a steady output of work, a consistent and excellent product, an overly protective approach to the vision and a relentless pursuit of the dream. This post is feeling lonely and confused and sometimes hurt when it feels like people don’t understand the sacrifices I make and the tolls they take.

And, this post is the tribe of people around me whose talent and work ethic are absolutely undeniable, unquestionable and awe-inspiring.

This post is the creation of the blueprint. This post is every bit of what Nicki said on Truffle Butter when she spits that line: “Your whole style and approach I invented, and I ain’t takin that back cause I meant it.” This post is that. This post is an ode to authenticity, a cry for realness, a plea for people to find their own voices and become themselves.

This post is the last post I want to write asking people to respect my time and honor my craft. Because there won’t be any more asks. I will just be telling. I won’t take any prisoners. I will be asking you to show me each and every last one of the receipts. Because niceties aren’t paying my bills. And niceties aren’t making me any more or less authentic. Niceties aren’t a word I put on the “Brand DNA” page of my Twenties Unscripted overview last year, that one you didn’t know I had on deck for anytime I need to educate someone on the ins and outs of my work. Niceties are assassinating my time and depleting my energy, time and energy that I can’t afford to waste when I am so crazily and ferociously building this precious thing of mine.

This post is not politically correct.

Politically correct is not, nor was it ever, part of my brand. But demanding that people respect my time and honor the painstaking effort I put into honing my craft–yes, that is part of my brand, it’s part of me and it will absolutely not be undermined, fucked with, misunderstood, questioned or doubted. Not now and not ever.

I told you this post was not politically correct.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Stop Confusing A Hobby With A Side Hustle.

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People ask me questions. People want to figure out how I have gotten to where I am, how I have accomplished the little bit that I’ve done. People ask how I stay inspired, how I manage to blog consistently, how I gained a following and how I’ve gotten my SEO up to par (something I don’t really know shit about).

I try to conjure up original answers to a lot of these questions. But, sometimes I think people want me to let them in on some sort of secret, some sort of mysterious recipe that would explain how I’ve been able to stand at the helm of this blog for almost three years.

I don’t have any secrets.

I don’t know any shortcuts.

I just work. And work. And work. And write. And write. And write. And work and write and work and write and work and write.

I would imagine that starting a blog at this point in time is terribly tough because as a friend of mine recently said, the market is over saturated. There is beauty in that over saturated market because there are so many resources, so many other people to learn from. But, without the ability to put blinders on and focus on the speed of your own lane, that same over saturated market will throw a lot of people off. It will transform them from creative producers into competitive machines. It won’t instill a value of hard work inside of them. Instead, it will propel them to seek shortcuts, forego originality and simply react to what the next person is doing, saying, writing or thinking.

If you want to know the secret, if you’re hungry for the shortcut, here it is: hard work and self-discipline. Hard work and self-discipline are the true differentiators for anyone who wants to do this blogging thing. So easy, yet so difficult. Sure, I believe I have a knack for writing, but I am not writing anything new under the sun. I’m just working my ass off and that’s something people don’t want to do anymore. People want to attempt something for three months and think they’ll magically see extraordinary results. People want to blog when they feel like it. People are out here confusing hobbies with side hustles. Watching television is a hobby for me. It’s something I do when I’m bored, when I need to unwind, when I just want to plop down and be slob for a few hours. But, writing? That’s my side hustle.

A side hustle is your Friday night when everyone else is out. A side hustle is Sunday afternoon when you would rather take a nap. A side hustle is how I originally drafted this post in the notes section of my iPhone on Friday while I was waiting to get my hair done, then edited it on a Sunday night as I felt a migraine coming on and my cramps coming back. That’s my side hustle. That’s what it looks like. That’s how inconvenient it is. That’s how not-so-fun it can be. People see the award. They see a byline here or there. They see me tweet about excitement for a showcase. But, all of this grand inconvenience, all of this work–that’s the real side hustle.

A hobby is when you feel “inspired.” A hobby is when you feel like it. A hobby is nice. It’s freeing. It’s an escape. But it will never reap the benefits of a side hustle because it will never, ever require the same investment of time, energy and resources.

You know what I want in 2015? I want people to stop confusing hobbies with side hustles.

Bloggers get a bad rep for a lot of reasons, one of them being that a lot of inconsistent people water down the term. I don’t say that to say blogging isn’t a great hobby. It is. It’s an awesome one. If someone wants to spew out some thoughts every now and again, I am here for it. But I want those people to call that what it is–a hobby. Please do not act like it’s a side hustle when there are some of us out here busting our asses and really, well, hustling. Please do not act like it’s a side hustle when your profit plan is still shoved so far up your ass it hasn’t seen broad daylight. Please do not act like it’s a side hustle If you haven’t figured out a way to consistently carve it in to your week. Please do not act like it’s a side hustle if you haven’t embedded it in to your life and routine. If you can get to it when you have the chance to get to it, it is still a hobby. Just call it a hobby and clear the path for those who are serious about their shit.

There are not any secrets. There are not any shortcuts. There is only hard work, lots of it, all the time, even when you don’t feel like it. And there isn’t hard work one day and then a day where you’ve suddenly earned the chance to prop your feet up. There is a consistent drumbeat of hard work. Pay your dues. Put in your time. Shit, I’m still paying my dues. I’m still putting in my time. I’m still waiting for a chance to prop my size 9.5 feet up.

No one can teach you hard work. Stop thinking that paying a creative coach $100 dollars an hour is going to suddenly help you work hard. Just stop being a lazy ass. Find that fire inside of you and let it burn every last bit of apathy away. Do the work. Put your head down and do the work. Put the blinders on, turn the music up and do the fucking work.

Xoxo,
Tyece