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

Dimensions of Black Womanhood: The Visionary and The Powerhouse

You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.–Shirley Chisholm

Tyece: The Visionary

Photo credit: @jazzthenoise
Photo credit: @jazzthenoise

The summer of 2011 tasted like cough syrup caked at the bottom of a Cabernet bottle. Sour. Bitter. Unwelcome. One bad surprise after another, the kind my mother insists make your left eye twitch. Except these weren’t just surprises, they were grenades. And bad wouldn’t describe them, but harrowing and hellish would. That summer sprinkled cyanide into my sweet glass of burgeoning adulthood and summoned me to take a sip.

I should have died. But it would be unfair to say I wanted to. If you ever want to die, I imagine you must feel something, if nothing more than the pitch black desire to leave this planet. Instead, I went numb. My mind went blank. There are whole months I do not remember. I took a passenger seat in my own existence and let the devil on my shoulder drive me straight into oblivion. We cruised through fog for hours. I fell into a hard sleep. Didn’t wake up until 2012.

Read more of my story here.


 

Jamé: The Powerhouse

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6 a.m.: I’m up, reading the eight plus news outlets I’m subscribed to, catching up on what’s been going on in the world. I eventually fall back asleep.

9:30 a.m. I’m back up, this time looking to make sure all is well on TheBlondeMisfit, checking for the one millionth time on grammar, punctuation, and social media handles.

1:30 a.m. The day has passed, and amidst busy schedules, many posts, and countless time spent on various projects, I’m forcing myself to go to sleep.

Somewhere in between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. the next day, I am an artist, spoken word poet, lyricist, singer, dancer, actress, musician, journalist, blogger, stylist, and social commentator. The friend who blurts out a creative idea while drunk and realizes the next morning it might actually be brilliant. The hard working student who everybody tries to get on their group project, because they know no matter how much or little they do, it’s going to be a great project.

Read more of Jamé’s story here.

Dimensions of Black Womanhood: The Visionary

Photo credit: @jazzthenoise
Photo credit: @jazzthenoise

The summer of 2011 tasted like cough syrup caked at the bottom of a Cabernet bottle. Sour. Bitter. Unwelcome. One bad surprise after another, the kind my mother insists make your left eye twitch. Except these weren’t just surprises, they were grenades. And bad wouldn’t describe them, but harrowing and hellish would. That summer sprinkled cyanide into my sweet glass of burgeoning adulthood and summoned me to take a sip.

I should have died. But it would be unfair to say I wanted to. If you ever want to die, I imagine you must feel something, if nothing more than the pitch black desire to leave this planet. Instead, I went numb. My mind went blank. There are whole months I do not remember. I took a passenger seat in my own existence and let the devil on my shoulder drive me straight into oblivion. We cruised through fog for hours. I fell into a hard sleep. Didn’t wake up until 2012.

That’s the thing about being a spark for others to reach the best, bravest, and boldest parts of themselves. You don’t become that spark until you learn to fly above your own fire. You do not get crystal clear about your future until you wake up from that comatose moment, the one that convinced you there was nothing left to salvage from the ruins.

I could have vanished into becoming a victim after that summer. Instead, the Universe positioned me to become a vessel. The Universe sat me down one evening in the white hot heat of Plano, Texas and decided that light would still spill through my heart’s broken windows. Twenties Unscripted was conceived from my spirit’s beautiful cracks. But, I wouldn’t know it until much later, after years of penning half-baked love stories and recounting dating horror tales. I wouldn’t realize just how much my life’s purpose underscored that sincere, sassy and sometimes smart-assy take on growing up. Hell, I wouldn’t know just how much I would grow up. Evolve. Blossom into the kind of woman and writer I once assumed was left in summer 2011’s rubble.

But, it didn’t always feel good.

This is the part where I’m supposed to tell you about nights that antagonized me as I stared at the ceiling, contemplating how to turn a dream into a dollar. But, those nights are only a sliver of my narrative. Instead, there are entire chapters dedicated to the insecurities I had to relinquish. I had to learn how to love a body I believed had betrayed me. I had to find and nurture a spirit that got lost in the wreckage. I had to quiet a mind that remained convinced everyone was out to get me or rip me to shreds. I had to make peace with my past, one inked with handwriting from other people’s demons.

Photo credit: @jazzthenoise
Photo credit: @jazzthenoise

I am still doing the work.

I’m still climbing the skyscraper toward radical self-love. Still clawing my way toward unwavering confidence. Still demanding my feet to find comfort in the big shoes God asked me to fill. Still throwing nine hours of my day toward fulfilling someone else’s dream. Still running to catch the bus. Still canceling events. Still wondering where in the hell is my Michael B. Jordan? Still losing money from rushed ideas. Still growing up in ways both wildly different and eerily similar from that girl who started a blog one night in the white hot heat of Plano, Texas.

Yet through it all, I see a future packed to the gills with opportunity, even if I’m completely unsure how I will get there.

Because I’m crazy enough to believe I have the power to live off of my name. Wild enough to declare that I will use every centimeter of talent the good lord gave me to pay bills from my purpose. Relentless enough to pursue and perfect my craft. Brave enough to keep leaving my heart wide open on the Internet. Convicted enough to see my dreams all the way through.

Fall 2015 tastes like the first sip of medium roast coffee on a rainy day. Warm. Refreshing. Restorative. Just what I need to put my mind at ease. I earned this cup of joe. It’s what you receive when you rise from the ruins and turn mayhem into manna. It’s what happens when you build a beautiful stained glass window from your shattered bits. It’s what happens when you do not crumble into becoming a victim, but instead rise to the occasion of being a visionary.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Dimensions of Black Womanhood: The Lover

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Photography by @jazzthenoise

By: Alexis Wilkins

One of my guilty pleasures is reality TV…well, more so an obsession rather than a guilty pleasure. And one of the more ridiculous shows that I love to indulge in is RuPaul’s Drag Race. What could be better than watching 10 drag queens vie for the title of “America’s Next Drag Superstar”? I’ve watched it for a few seasons now and yes, the crazy costumes and drag queen drama sessions are entertaining, but there is one part of the show that resonates with me no matter what season I am watching. At the end of each episode, Ru’s tagline to the queens is “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you going to love anyone else?”

I have spent the good part of the last year finding out what that really means.

My friends always joke about how “I love Love.” My mother has always described me as her most “lovable” child. All of my Barbies had a Ken for companionship, even if that meant dressing up the women dolls in men’s clothes so all of them could have a partner. I stop whatever I’m doing on a Saturday to watch The Titanic when I see it’s on TV. I’ve always seemed to have some kind of romantic interest. I can remember my first crush in first grade to my high school sweetheart, to my stream of college hookups to my stream of early twenties hookups. There always seemed to be some part of me that yearned for a love interest.

I’ve always heard people say your twenties are the time when you really start to learn about yourself. You learn the things you like and the things you totally despise. You learn that drinking an endless amount of sugary alcoholic drinks will indeed make you vomit. But, most importantly, you start to really learn about yourself. This was and is not some overnight process. I’m 27 going on 28, and every day I feel as though there is always something new I recognize about myself when I look in the mirror.

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Photo credit: @jazzthenoise

I hit the lowest point of my life in early 2014. In August 2013, after countless terrible financial and moral decisions, I had to move back home with my parents after less than a year of being on my own. By April 2014, there was no more faking it with my friends and with myself. I was finally being forced to lie in the proverbial bed I made. And I laid in it bed for months. I pulled away from my best friends. I pulled away from my family. I was fighting with my parents on a weekly basis. My weight seemed to be getting to a point that was uncontrollable. I was dating random guys from Plenty of Fish so I could feel some kind of love from the outside because I didn’t have any for myself on the inside. There were more nights than a few when I would cry so hard it hurt before I drifted off into some unconscious state.

As the New Year approached, I knew that something had to give in 2015. There was no way I could bear to go another 365 days feeling the way I had felt for the past 365. Laying in that hotel room bed with my resolutions still resounding in my ears and the Instagram meme I had posted about them, I made the conscious decision to take back control of my life. And since that moment things have changed for me.

I started working in a field I love where I get to be surrounded by love every day as a wedding planner. I trained for and successfully completed my first half marathon. I saved for and moved into my very own place in the city that I love. I got my relationships back on track with my family and friends. But the most important thing was that I could finally bear the sight of myself in the mirror. Not just because of a physical change but because of a spiritual one. My spirit is the most beautiful it has been in my 27 years on this earth. I have fallen truly, madly and deeply in love with myself and it’s the absolute best feeling in the world.

So I may not be one of Ru’s drag queens, but now more than ever, I know her words are true.

Alexis lives and loves according to the mantra that “if your dreams don’t scare you, they’re probably not big enough.” She loves people, pink, a good glass of (red or white) wine, weekend brunches, karaoke and all things Baltimore. Connect with Alexis @lex_wilk and learn more about her wedding planning work at birdofparadiseevents.com.

Cry Your Ugly Cry.

No one ever told you that serving as a light

You should find your new favorite corner. Stare at it for a few minutes. Contemplate if you even want to go sit in that corner because you know that once you slide to the floor, a pent up brigade of tears will march.

You should go sit in that corner. Legs curled up to your chest. Face in your knees.

You should cry your ugly cry. Eyeliner smudged. Cheeks puffy. Eyes red. Mascara demolished.

You deserve to cry that cry.

See, no one ever told you about this part. No one ever told you about a Thursday night, drinking wine on an empty stomach, wondering once more if this success is even worth it. No one ever told you that serving as a light to many would require your own pitch black moments. No one ever told you that success does not, and never will, equal happiness. No one ever told you that you would attain the very things you once hoped for, and you would still be left with cracks and craters in your spirit.

No one ever told you that you can’t keep snorting lines of success without eventually overdosing. You can’t keep conjuring up ideas hoping to drown out the demons in your own head. You can’t keep going on like this.

No one told you that you shouldn’t have quit therapy; you shouldn’t have so quickly assumed that you were whole. What someone should have told you is that when you experience a seismic shift in this life, you never go back to the old life. You can’t pray yourself back to the old life. You can’t work your way back to the old life. You can’t reminisce back to the old life. This is the new life with all of its blinding bullshit, bedlam and blessings.

So, you’re going to have to deal with you and all of your mess. And you’re not going to be able to hide behind your writing or your brand-building or your pretty poems and paragraphs. Everyone else does that shit; you do not have the luxury of doing that shit. Have you not seen how many times and in how many directions this life will whip you? You do not have the luxury of only scratching the surface. So you can’t just sit on Dr. Jones’ couch a few times and assume you’re good. And you can’t just meditate a few times and believe you’re whole. And you can’t just drop down at an altar once or twice and tell yourself everything is fine. Oh, no. This is slug-your-feet-through-the-mud kind of healing. This is every-day-all-the-time kind of revival. This is bid-the-old-life-farewell-once-and-for-all kind of living. If you want to crawl out of the abyss, you’ve got to let your fingers bleed.

But, see, when your fingers bleed, they tell stories. Someone else needs those stories. When you want to give up, as you so often do, that is your savior: someone else needs your stories. If you do not tell those stories, they will die at your beautifully bloody fingertips.

But, for now, cry your ugly cry. Cry for everything you still crave and every crater in your spirit you still have yet to fill. Cry for all of the blessings and all of the bullshit. Cry because wine stopped working and good sex stopped doing the trick. Cry because it’s never, ever going to be the same. Cry because you know the road ahead is long, and it is just as beautiful as it is calamitous. Cry because you always prayed for the light, but never realized there would still be downpours of darkness. Cry because you are fortunate beyond what you deserve. Cry because you survived. Cry because you are here. Cry because “here” is still 1,000 precious miles from where you ever believed you should be. Cry because of forgiveness and amazing grace. Cry because there is a tribe that has stuck by you even when you were an outright jackass. Cry because you want more out of this life than accolades and retweets. Cry because some days you don’t quite believe you’re worth more than accolades and retweets. Cry because every now and again, your soul and spirit just need to cry their ugliest cries.

Xoxo,
Tyece