Jump, Dance, and Bask In Your Purpose: Showcase Recap

The 2016 SSF cast Photo by @JazzTheNoise
The 2016 SSF cast
Photo by @JazzTheNoise

Author’s Note: Today is my last post until the week of March 21. It has been an unbelievably amazing start to 2016 with the showcase, a trip to Charleston to speak, the launch of TyeceWilkins.com, and everything else God has been gracious enough to send my way. But a lot of hard work has accompanied these incredible moments. So, it’s time for a break to rest, regroup, and get ready for whatever the Universe will bring next.

I wanted to write it all down. Wanted to get it on paper before the memories start spilling through the cracks in between my fingers. I wanted to relive it. Replay it. Remember it. I wanted to let those memories pick me up and twirl me around before life got in the way. Before bills got in the way. Before the pendulum swing between the present and my unending pursuit of purpose got in the way.

Except there isn’t any way to write it all down. I can’t capture that night in photos or videos or hashtags or even this blog post. I can’t sum it up in the few sentences I spit out when my coworkers asked me how it went. I can try. I will try. I have tried. But so far I can’t find a direct translation for how much my heart fluttered on Saturday night when my life’s purpose played out. Live. Direct. 100%.

I’ve written about “See. Speak. Feel.” before. The history. The failures. The doubt. The success. But, this year was the first year that the show and the people in it reflected the very reason I have been put on this Earth. If all of that sounds lofty and ridiculous and too nebulous to handle, that is because finding your purpose in life is often times lofty. Ridiculous. And too nebulous to handle.

I told my sister during the early weeks of planning that I wanted a dynamic show. Less reading. More performance. People giving it all they had. But soon enough the stress of managing the event outweighed that vision. I was herding cats. Fighting fires. Just trying to push my boulder of a baby uphill and across the finish line. I stopped thinking about what I told my sister all those weeks ago and gave in to my inevitable “this has to get done” modus operandi.

I dropped exactly three f-bombs in rapid succession five minutes before showtime. Murphy’s law stepped in and started playing with my spirit. My nerves stood on edge. The more anyone tried to calm me down, the more my blood boiled. We had to change something at the last minute. And then the plan shifted and we didn’t have to change that something anymore. By the time I sat near the booth to direct the show, I wasn’t even thinking about what to expect. I wasn’t thinking about this moment I created. I wasn’t thinking about purpose and I wasn’t thinking about that vision. I was thinking about sucking down a drink laced with alcohol once it all was finally over.

But, like every year, soon enough I settled into the show. Last year it didn’t happen until intermission. This year it happened during the second performance. I absorbed it. Watched it. Hollered when I liked a line. Waved my hands. Clapped. Laughed. Thanked God and his angels that the mics worked. Smiled when our stage manager knew exactly what to do without being prompted. Enjoyed myself. Relinquished the stress. Assumed full ownership of the vision.

When I say my purpose is to spark people to connect to the best, bravest, and boldest parts of themselves, that statement unnerves me. It feels like a giant pair of shoes to fill. It scares me that at the ripe age of 26, God has made that purpose so crystal clear and already allowed it to manifest in so many ways. Sometimes it makes me scratch my head and wonder what’s next? It makes me feel undeserving when there are people who spend entire lifetimes searching for the reason why their feet have been planted on this planet. I know why I’m here. Now. Tomorrow. Forever. So, when I say my purpose is to spark people to connect to the best, bravest, and boldest parts of themselves, as scary as it is, I know it’s right. It’s real. It’s rooted in everything I have come to learn about this life, the space I inhabit, and the energy I create.

I saw that purpose take on new life last Saturday. I saw it in my sister and the Adele notes she belted out, even after I told her “That’s a hard song. Adele messed it up at the Grammy’s.” I saw it in Roconia and Sharonia, whose unbreakable sisterhood radiated during their performance. I saw it in Jamé who went from managing the registration table at last year’s show to blowing the audience away with a poem (that she wrote that same morning!). I saw it in Yetti who rose to the challenge of reciting spoken word about the very palpable and universal concept of heartbreak. I saw it in Tassika when she smiled at the audience in between reading lines that left you swaying and humming “Yassss.” I saw it in Kalani who has not sang publicly in decades, but gave me shivers with an a capella version of Share My World. I saw it in Teresa who won our impromptu dance contest last year and went on to wow people as the only dancer this time around.

I saw my purpose in each of these women and everyone else who touched this year’s show. I witnessed people connect to the best parts of themselves. The brave parts. The bold parts. I watched them embrace the visions they had of themselves. Elevate the bar. Raise the standard. Rise to the occasion. These flickers of magic were inside each of them all along, dancing around in different ways. Peeking out. Creeping out. Waiting for a chance to burst and see the light of day. I’m grateful the stage was set to become that spark.

I don’t know if I can write it all down. I can’t translate entirely what that night meant for me or what it affirmed. But I can tell you there is not a better feeling in this lifetime than to dance, jump, and bask in your purpose. I can tell you that I want every single day to feel like the first Saturday in March.


The Ladies of “See. Speak. Feel.” Recap Their Experiences

Photo credit and source: Erica Nichole (www.everythingEnJ.com)
Photo credit and source: Erica Nichole (www.everythingEnJ.com)

It was all good just a week ago…

Life got in the way this week of me continuing to ride the high from last weekend’s “See. Speak. Feel.” showcase. But, I am grateful to some of the women from the show who recapped their experiences on their own blogs this week. Reading these posts makes it all come back again, and I can put the bullshit aside and remember a beautiful night that meant something different to each one of us. Check out the recaps from these warriors as well as a special feature on On The Come Up, written by our event assistant Roxene Edwards.

And, the full photo slideshow is coming before the end of the month!

Erica, Everything EnJ: Rewind + Recap: See. Speak. Feel. 2015

“Being in the presence of creatives does something to me. It stirs up something in my soul, revitalizes my spirit and reminds me of the significance and power of releasing thoughts and emotions. I dig warm spoken word spots and complex art pieces that can be deciphered into more than one meaning, and this year’s See. Speak. Feel. was an accumulation of all three.”

Yetti, Yetti Says: See. Speak. Feel.

“I chose to read ‘I Don’t Believe In Fairytales, But I Believe In Love’, because in order to read this piece, I would need the same kind of courage it took for me to write and post it in the first place. I was assured that this showcase had a loving audience, and that the aura was accepting and encouraging. And it was exactly that, because when I took the stage and read behind my phone, stumbled and lost my place as nerves consumed me, that black box theatre, filled with only four people I knew personally, fed me an energy that forced me to get through that reading.”

Roconia, EverSoRoco: See. Speak. Feel: Everything & More

Destiny has been relaying this reoccurring theme with me: you don’t know until you try. You don’t know you have the gumption to sign up for a showcase until you try. You don’t know you can write and present poetry until you try. You don’t know how amazing people and experiences can be until you try.

OnTheComeup.com: Feels Like Home–DC Showcase Recap

There aren’t many places you’ll go and feel like everyone you encounter is a part of your family. Anyone who has lived in a major city can attest to this, but that wasn’t the case at Twenties Unscripted Presents The Second Annual “See. Speak. Feel.” Night of Performance and Art held Saturday, March 7 at the Anacostia Arts Center. In a sold-out room of eager patrons, everyone seemed like family.

Moment For Life: The “See. Speak. Feel.” Edition

Group Photo SSF 2015
Twenties Unscripted Presents the Second Annual “See. Speak. Feel.” Night of Performance and Art

There is footage of me at the tail end of Saturday night’s “See. Speak. Feel.” show cranking the shit out of a Harlem Shake while Special Delivery, accompanied by the cackling of friends, plays in the background. I do not even remember making the memory, but I have since watched the video at least a dozen times. It’s the most poignant and accurate expression of how I felt at the end of the night–happy, relieved, carefree and no longer worried about a damn thing.

They always tell you to enjoy the show. Enjoy the moment. Enjoy this beautiful thing that you’ve created.

It is impossible to enjoy the show.

When you are the director of the show, you notice every single thing that you want to change. You notice the tiny squeaking sound in the background, and the guy next to you sees that you’re pissed and tells you something about the E/V on the mics needing to be adjusted. You cringe any time there is feedback, wondering why feedback always rears its ugly head during the show and never during the rehearsal. You bitch at your sister, who is really an amazing emcee and an even more amazing sister, when she asks you a few times how to pronounce the next performer’s name. You want it all to be so right and so perfect, this thing that you have spent months upon months thinking about and planning and creating and bringing to life.

It will not all be right and perfect.

But, it will be beautiful.

It is impossible to enjoy it fully when you are in it simply because you are in it. You are in director mode. You are giving people cues and telling them when to turn down the music or change the song. You are glaring at the door any time someone walks in late. You are motioning to your event support team not to open the door any fucking more until intermission. You are stopping your event support team when they go to reach for a mic change too early. Every detail of this thing has been consuming your mind for months, so you know what you know and you know what you want and you know when something is not right.

A photo op from the Special Delivery turn up. You gotta follow me on IG to see my 15 seconds of video fame.
A photo op from the Special Delivery turn up. You gotta follow me on IG to see my 15 seconds of video fame.

But, then there is an intermission and a chance to remedy the things that maybe didn’t go so well during the first half. And after the intermission, there is the old school dance contest that you conjured up only five days before the show, deciding you wanted the audience to be more involved this year. And at some point during the old school dance contest when Poison drops, you find your arms in the air and your voice belting out the words and you think, “Finally. I am enjoying my own damn show.”

Moments blur together. You hardly remember your own remarks or the piece you performed. By the end, you are happily exhausted. You are pulled in 1,803 directions once the show is over–taking photos with friends and family, asking people what they thought, sitting down for an interview with a journalist. But, you remember one distinct moment when your high school friend who you haven’t seen in more than a year comes up to you and just looks at you. And you both start crying, in that stupid and inexplicable and very perfect way that women tend to cry. You look at her and your mind flashes back to eight years ago, graduating together from high school while you stayed in Maryland and she ventured off to the West coast. You look at her and you remember sitting in a dingy IHOP saying goodbye for the last time before she left for school, crying in that stupid and inexplicable and very perfect way that women tend to cry. And all you can think now is that you never imagined this for yourself, that you never knew your voice would be heard in this way, that you never thought your vision would be a common ground for so many other amazing and talented artists, that eight years ago, “See. Speak. Feel.” would have been more than you could have ever fathomed for yourself.

So you cry in that stupid and inexplicable and very perfect way that women tend to cry.

People think you always get what you want. They’ve told you that before. They have said that you just make it seem like things drop from the sky for you. But, you always laugh and cringe at that assumption. Because you remember a sweltering hot day in August 2013 when you came up with the idea to do something called “See. Speak. Feel.” and it didn’t happen. You couldn’t get it off the ground. You tried and tried and then sat in bed on a Saturday morning crying, realizing it was not going to happen. At least not then. So you know that there is no such thing as anything just dropping from the sky. You know that the only highs are the moment you get the idea and the moment you see it come to pass. You know that every single moment in between an idea and the fruition of that idea is nothing but hard work. You also wish more people would take their heads out of their asses and realize that.

If it doesn't accentuate your ass, legs and/or boobs, don't wear it. Just kidding. Sorta.
If it doesn’t accentuate your ass, legs and/or boobs, don’t wear it.
Just kidding.

Maybe it’s trite to pay homage to Nicki Minaj’s “Moment for Life” in the title of this post, but when you think about Saturday night, that is exactly how you feel. You wish you could capture that feeling and squeeze it into a bottle. Take it out for your rainy and rough days. Remember it on the days when all you want to do is give up. Recall it when you are planning the third annual showcase and trying your hardest not to curse people out. Savor it for the times when you are forced to recognize that you can’t ever control everything, and sometimes the things that are most out of your control are the things that end up making the show beautiful.

You can’t ever put into words how amazed and humbled you are by the people who supported this show, took part in it, watched it, worked on it, wished you well, tossed their love your way. You saw people in that room on Saturday from every aspect of your life and felt an unending wave of support from them. You are so proud of every single person who took that stage, who roared their truth, who faced their demons, who healed other people through their own words.

Your poem on Saturday night was about a longing to be loved and understood. But, there is no need to long for those things. Everyone in that room and the energy they brought with them reminded you that you are loved and understood beyond what you could ever ask for.

See you for the third annual show.


“Do It With Passion Or Not At All.”

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.

Here’s the thing. Life is never without the bullshit. The bullshit will always be there. It never goes away. There will always be the people and situations that come along in life and try to suck up the same air you’re fighting to breathe. There will always be the parasites. There will always be the people who don’t want to contribute shit, don’t want to add any value and want to distract you from building something beautiful. I say build it anyway. Dream it anyway. Create it anyway. Do it anyway. Don’t expect the bullshit to go away, but expect to care about it far less when you are working toward something greater.

Create meaning. Bring meaning. Add value. Seek to become a person who adds substance, not just sugar.