A Heart’s Guide To Clicking Unfollow

 

 

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Mindlessly jump on Instagram for the twenty-second time that day with your feet digging into Virginia Beach sand. Soak up the fact that you are exactly 201 miles from home, and although this is not the tropical getaway you hoped for at the start of 2016, it’s the first trip you’ve taken for leisure in two years. That counts for something. Inhale the happiness that comes with traveling simply for the sake of relaxation and a few good, hard laughs with the friends who know you inside and out. Breathe in the little bit of golden fortune that life has offered you in this particular moment.

Then stop scrolling when you see his photo.

Wonder for approximately one minute and fifteen seconds why his photos are even still popping up on your Instagram feed. Contemplate what stopped you from deleting him sooner. Peer at the photo and then read the caption three consecutive times. Ruminate about the woman next to him in the photo. Observe her curly hair. Her toothy smile. Speculate about who she is and how she got pulled into his orbit. Make up facts you’ll never be able to verify like “She’s probably into yoga” or “I bet she owns mason jars” or “She’s definitely the kind of person who remembers to bring reusable bags to the grocery store.” Tell yourself she’s everything you’re not, and observe your confidence as it shrinks three sizes.

Feel like a jackass. Keep staring at the photo.

Recall that time three months ago when you called him at 5 p.m. on a Sunday and tried to pretend everything was normal, like you routinely called him at 5 p.m. on Sundays to chit chat about the weather. Then recall the time six months before when he sent you four lengthy texts in a row, gray blobs of emotions you couldn’t decipher. Remember how you responded by telling him his words were “ambiguous” and “overly decorative.” Relive that time three years ago when he couldn’t gather the courage to walk toward you and you couldn’t summon the nerve to walk away.

Feel like a jackass again.

Read the photo caption once more before you decide that the older you get, the less recklessly you will handle your heart. Remember that you are more of an adult now than you were three years ago, or even three months ago, and your tolerance for emotional masochism is withering away. Admit to yourself that most things are hardly ever as complicated as you and your stirred up soul make them out to be. Confess that once you strip this story of its melodramatic decorations, you are left with a tale as old as time: boy meets girl; it does not work out. Bite your tongue until you taste the bittersweet blood of reality.

Observe your confidence as it expands two sizes. Sink your toes deeper into the sand.

Remind yourself that most feelings are not like the neatly packaged lyrics of a Taylor Swift refrain. No, most feelings are a hazy and disjointed mess of flashes that will yank you around until you choose to steer the ship of your own spirit.

See this instance for what it is. Decide that your heart has been battle-tested enough. Choose to steer the ship of your own spirit.

Click unfollow.

And when Instagram asks if you really want to unfollow him, do not let the cancel button tempt you. Don’t let your thumb hover over it for long. Let it go. Say goodbye. Bid farewell to the social media ghosts of bygone lovers. Decide your present joy is worth much more than pollution from the bullshit of your past choices.

And remember that this life is a continuous unfolding of the things you take on, the things you let go, and sometimes the things you cling to for far too long.

Xoxo,
Tyece

On Not Always Living Out Loud

The world believes it deserves access to you. Like you owe it something. Like because Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey understood programming and every single human being’s undeniable need for validation that you should just give it all away. Like you should just spew every setback and every sentiment and every speculation for anyone to digest.

I bet you our parents never dreamed of a day where privacy would become extinct.

I’m part of the problem. You’re reading this, aren’t you? These thoughts on a blog. These are sentiments and speculations for just anyone to digest. I’m embarassingly aware of the blatant oxymoron that this post has already become. And if only you knew how many times I let a hush fall over my apartment as I listen to the click clack of my fingers against keys and wonder if I’m part of the cure or part of the disease.

“The things I worry about the most when it comes to my generation? That we will somehow fall too in love with the glory that comes with being ‘liked’ and ‘retweeted’ and ‘shared.’ My fear is that we love and hate ourselves too much, all at the same time.” –Hannah Brencher

I wonder if other twenty-somethings have this fear that gnaws away at them, this fright that our generation is set up to leave nothing but tweets laced in dust when it’s all said and done. And I wonder if we all beat on our chests in the name of connection and community when it’s really for affirmation and validation and one less night of unbridled loneliness. And I wonder if we’re ever truly satiated, ever truly happy, ever truly content with a moment or thought that goes undocumented. I wonder if we have learned the sanctity of saving something for ourselves, or if we forgot the purity of privacy the minute we felt the majesty of someone climbing into our DMs.

Right now I should be writing down my goals for the month in swirly cursive. On some fancy stationery. Probably something pink. All so I can post those goals on Instagram for you to like. Or I should be figuring out Periscope so you don’t just get to read my work, but also get to see my face. Or I should be piecing together the narrative of my day on Snapchat.

But, I’ve learned that you have to fight to hold tight to that which is yours. And you have to fight to even figure out just what is yours and no one else’s. Honoring the sacrosanct pieces of our lives has to be a conscious and never-ending act. Our lives are no longer neatly manicured lawns that people will quietly pass. No, our lives are vans with tinted windows, driving 90 miles per hour away from some crazed and adamant paparazzo. People believe they have the rights to our most personal moments just by virtue of 21st century technology. But I bet you if some shit hit the fan and a grenade in our lives exploded, we would be up and out. We would fade to black. We would tell all that crazed social media paparazzo to go fuck itself in the finest way. And we would be wildly justified in that departure from the vultures.

“I know that behind my own highlight reel, there are hours of lost footage capturing a battle to claw my way out of the abyss.” –”Don’t Believe the Hype” Twenties Unscripted: A Journey of Womanhood, Writing, and Relativity

I used to give everyone everything. When it came to what I was willing to blog or publicly post, there was not one stone that I left unturned. But, the world does not cover you up once you’re naked in the middle of the highway. It does not offer you a blanket or suggest you add a layer. It just gawks at you, even though it was the one that made you feel compelled to bare it all in the first place.

People ask why I write in second person. Or why I write less often. Or why I only tell secrets in Sunday Kind of Love. And the answer is because I do not undress my thoughts so mindlessly now. There is a distinction between Tyece, the woman at the helm of Twenties Unscripted and just Tyece, the woman. And I have learned to create a safe haven for Tyece, the woman so that she’s never left naked in the middle of the highway.

Do not undress your thoughts so mindlessly. Push boulders aside if it means saving a little something for yourself. Put the red tape around the moments that are just for you and hold on to dear life for your peace of mind. There’s something to be said for a life that isn’t always lived out loud.

Xoxo,
Tyece

This Is Your Journey, No One Else’s.

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photo credit: @jazzthenoise

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.

It’s OK to grab the wine bottle and take a giant swig. It’s OK if your nerves are shot and your heart is racing and you keep feeling like the pressure, gravity and beauty of this life is sometimes too much for you to handle. It is OK. I promise you it is OK and it will be OK and it was always OK. I promise you that the minute you give yourself a break from the one million thoughts darting through your mind, you will find peace in knowing you are now living the life you fought so tirelessly to have. Cry if you want to. Cry if you have to. Cry when you look at that canvas photo of yourself from a year ago, belting out your heart on stage and not even knowing that all of that was just the beginning of this sweet and divine unfolding of your dreams. Cry because this reality shakes you, it scares you, it humbles you, it breaks you, it builds you up, it tests you, it maddens you, it lifts you, it moves you, it makes you. Cry because this is your stupidly beautiful reality.

 

13 Things You Post on Social Media That No One Gives A Fuck About

It’s Halloween. And, on Halloween we are all entitled to do frightening shit. Like write listicles.

I will admit when it comes to the following list, I am just as much a part of the cure as I am a part of the disease. (Sing it, Coldplay!) I’m guilty of having posted about several of these things, but now I see it as my God-given responsibility to make fun of those very things I once wrote about in 140 characters or less. Whether it’s a status update, a tweet or one of your beloved Instagram pics, here are 13 things nobody really gives a fuck about when you post them on social media.

Your breakfast, lunch or dinner
It still baffles me that people are posting pictures of food. Ok. You went to a restaurant. The food was scrumptious. I’ve been hitting up restaurants since my days of eating at Friendly’s when I was four; it’s not that serious. Eat the food. Poop it out. I love you and goodnight.

Your significant other
So my disclaimer here is that some public displays of baeness in moderation are fine. They’re actually cute. The issue is that how people define “moderation” varies widely among the human species. For me, moderation is maybe once a week. And, it helps if the public display of baeness is something funny or sarcastic. Missives about how you’re so in love should really be reserved for your diary or some other entity to which the rest of us don’t have to be subjected.

Your ex
Turn on Adele. Sing it out. Cry it out. Sweat it out. Write it out. Just don’t tweet it out.

Your flawless credit score
I really hate any conversation about finances, but that hatred increases tenfold when the conversation takes place on social media. Unless you’re my man or my mama, I’m not sharing my credit score. The only thing you need to know about my money is that I need more of it all the fucking time.

Your sex life
Congratulations. You joined the club. You’re getting laid. It’s a beautiful thing. We know. But, if you want to tweet about it in detail…instant unfollow.

Your hangover
I never understood this. When I’m hung over, I can’t even see straight enough to look at my phone without wanting to puke. If you can tweet, I am going to make an executive decision that you’re not that hung over.

social media we dont careYour cryptic reference to anything that you won’t fully explain (I just did this last week)
“Man, things couldn’t get any worse.” Does this mean I should worry or does this just mean you accidentally slept through Scandal? Like how bad are we talking? Are you going to tell me? No? Then get off Facebook!

Your trip to Whole Foods
What is it about Whole Foods that makes people want to tweet their way through grocery shopping? In the past two days, I’ve seen two tweets about Whole Foods trips. Take that shit off social media while the rest of us shop at Food Lion.

Your period
Another one of those common life occurrences that people can’t help but announce to the Internet. Pop some Advil, grab your heat pack thing, eat all the food in the house and hate the world quietly for the next few days.

Your rare illness, bug bite or trip to the emergency room
Not too long ago, my oldest niece put up an Instagram photo while she was at the emergency room. Pretty sure the bland walls of the ER aren’t the best backdrop for your selfie. Just saying. Also, I really hate when people post pictures of weird shit on their skin. Hit up Web MD and get that checked out. Instagram isn’t going to help you.

Your job interview
Tell me when you get the job. Then I can send the little confetti emojis.

Your workout
All your updates are making me want to do is plop in front of the television, inhale of bag of salt and vinegar chips and pray that my metabolism never abates.

Your night out
One photo? Cool. Ten photos? Punch yourself in the eye. Immediately. I will come to your residence right now and burn your freakum dress in a raging fire if you post more than two photos (max) of your night out.

Aren’t you proud of me? I didn’t even say kids.

Happy Halloween, fools.

Xoxo,
Tyece

Everything Isn’t Meant For Public Consumption

I have this thing about people who can’t get off their fucking phones.

I know. I’m 25 years old. I should fully advocate for everyone around me being hyper-connected and super-glued to Twitter, representing what my generation is all about.

But, I really have this thing about people who can’t get off their fucking phones.

I mentioned this pure, white hot rage about those people who can’t manage to look up from their phones to my best friend awhile ago. She replied, “Some people don’t think something happened unless it’s documented.”

Before I ascend my soapbox, I should say that I spend a great deal of my time wired, either via phone or my laptop (these days it’s mostly my laptop because my decrepit iPhone 4 is on its last leg and I would be better off with a carrier pigeon.) I turn to my phone when I’m bored, when I’m waiting for my food at Noodles and Company, when I’m standing in line at Target, when I have a strong urge to read Tila Tequila’s Wikipedia page..whenever.

Outside of those examples, I clearly spend a great deal of time documenting my own life on this blog. It wasn’t until I took a week off from writing publicly that this idea of having discretion about what we share and what we keep private started to really hit me. During my week off, I realized I had not written for myself in months. I could not think of a single thing I produced that wasn’t posted on the blog or at least shipped off to someone’s email inbox to get their thoughts.

As blogger Abby Rose so eloquently said, “Blogging, if you’re not careful, can turn into one masturbatory verbal fest.” I definitely believe in the power of blogs and self-created platforms. But, I know Abby Rose’s words all too well–the feeling that the only person getting any benefit from your words is, well, you. And, there’s a different way writers approach the work we know will ultimately be tossed into the Internet stratosphere for any one to see. We are more careful. We select our words gingerly. We think about things like adjectives and verbs, semi-colons and commas.

But, writing for yourself is what allows you to maintain your reckless abandon as a writer. It’s the chance to write wildly, freely, without any fucks to give. It’s the opportunity to write the things that aren’t politically correct, to say the things that you know make you a pretty vile human being, to purge all the nastiness and ugliness that you live with, even when you want to believe otherwise. Writing for yourself is what really makes you a writer–writing the things that do not require any validation from the peanut gallery in order to believe the value of those words.

Unfortunately, social media has twisted how we live, and now it seems as though every little thought, every musing, every experience, every question, every heartbreak, every bad day, every great day, every lamentation, every second deserves to be documented. But, consuming all the minutiae of everyone else’s lives is straight up poison. Consuming the minutiae of other people’s lives non-stop is the quickest route to feeling like a sack of shit for no apparent reason. I’m done with the voluntary cyanide gulp of social media comparison.

Only after having lived by the “Everything Must Be Documented” adage for too long did I learn how beautiful and good it feels to keep some things close to your heart. I now believe in purposeful discretion, with my work and relationships. I now understand that tweeting off a vision for a project is like letting a sparrow fly too soon. Now I know the sugary sweet feeling of keeping my biggest, craziest, wildest dreams clutched tightly to my chest, or at least only known within my inner tribe, trusting that they will not leak my shit.

I also now realize that Twitter will always be there, but people and my time with them is not guaranteed. Now, I leave my phone in my purse when I am in the company of friends or family. I give people a lot more of my attention and I give Twitter a lot less. I remember what someone said long after I can recall what they tweeted. I remember the way someone smiled or frowned or paused or cried much more than I remember someone’s avatar. I’m addicted to one-on-one conversations, the hearty ones you fall into with another person over dinner or a few glasses of wine or just the recognition that sometimes it’s beautiful to speak and truly be heard. The recognition that there’s a dearth of those conversations in today’s world and we want to savor them before they become extinct. The recognition that we all spend the greater fraction of our days competing for attention, shouting above the social media babble. So, I like listening to people. Pontificating about politics or religion or feminism (when a brave soul is willing to engage me in that last topic.) Debating what was truly Kanye’s best album. Waxing poetic about our dysfunctional families. I’m still not above rattling off something completely inane in 140 characters or less, but I have also learned the pricelessness of putting down my fucking phone. I have learned that not every detail of my life is meant for public consumption.

Xoxo,
Tyece