You Have To Know Who You Are.

I’ve been called a lot of things in my life, and probably called even more behind my back. Awhile ago, someone called me “sheltered” because I did not know that there are a lot of meth addicts in Montana. Montana? That’s a state? I thought that was just the name of the girl on The Real World: Boston.

I’ve been called other adjectives that don’t have the best connotations, but we can save those for another day. A common thread in the Laundry List Of Really Terrible Descriptors For Tyece has been my age. A lot of the words people have used to describe me are a byproduct of the assumptions they have made based on my being 24 years old. We live in a world that presupposes you really don’t know blip until you turn 30, or everything you know is null and void until you turn 30. My college courses did not prepare me for just how much I’d be forced to defend myself and my opinions simply because I was younger than everyone else in the office. Thanks for nothing, Dr. Lawson. (Just kidding. Lawson was hot.) Either way, in the words of my good friend Erica, you have to know who you are.

You have to know who you are. The world is accustomed to believing the words “young” and “idiotic” are synonyms. People haven’t exactly learned how to digest young people who manage to have and keep their shit together. Words like “sheltered” are subjective; they can only be defined relative to the speaker’s experiences. From my vantage point, “sheltered” is a pretty inaccurate word to describe me. But, not everyone knows my shittier-than-shit past from both long and not-so-long ago. And, not everyone needs to.

You have to know who you are. Because, I don’t think I have to pull each skeleton in my closet from off its hanger and lie them on full display for people to know that I am very far from blind when it comes to this life. I don’t need to extract my sordid laundry from its hamper and air it on a clothesline for people to trust that I know a thing or two. If I want you to know something, you probably already know. If I want to pull you down on to my bed of thorns, trust that you have probably already been pricked. Just read what I write. You do not write this stuff without life experience. This is more than just a potpourri of millennial problems. This is real life. And, you do not get the privilege and responsibility of writing the things I write without some pretty gritty struggles tucked away in your history. It’s very easy for people to write me off as a vapid young woman who will look back on all of my words and merely laugh. Guess I just have to tell them to holla at me when the book drops.

You have to know who you are. I have always been opinionated. For my 9th birthday, I got a shirt that said “I’m not opinionated, I’m just always right.” But, it did not occur to me until later in life that strong opinions are not always edible. I had to learn how to temper those opinions with a little empathy if I stood any chance of having more than one friend my entire life. That being said, I still do not have the most digestible personality. I’m not everyone’s favorite. I am not chill. I am not human wallpaper. I am not everyone’s cup of tea. But, my college roommate once said, “Some people are grapes and some people are wine. Everyone loves grapes and eats them without thinking. But, wine is a much more acquired taste. Not everyone likes it, but the people who do, love it.”

You have to know who you are. I now know that I am wine. I am a giant glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, hitting your palate and leaving a trace of purple on your lips that you won’t soon forget.

You have to know who you are. I know that there is a shift happening in my life, imperceptible to very few people. Things are changing, but they are doing so at such a glacial and gradual pace that no one really stops to notice. So, as they change, I have to know myself and what the hell I’m trying to do. I have to let those things change and not hold on to the person I was three years ago or five years ago or however long ago it was before I committed myself to writing in the most reckless way. It becomes too easy to lose yourself in other people’s flattery or venom. Fandom and hostility can both be really fleeting; don’t trust either.

You have to know who you are. Because people will project their insecurities and hideousness onto you. Then they will sit back and light a cigarette as they watch you implode. You can’t be a sponge. You can’t absorb everything. We’re groomed to be sponges, taking in everything until it has stained and browned us so much that we become unrecognizable. So, no, you can’t take in everything. Take some. Trash the rest. And know who the fuck you are and what the fuck you stand for. Because this crazy world will try to sway and shift you more than you could ever stomach.