When You’re Tired Of Who You’ve Been [By Ashley Coleman]

For the Twenties Unscripted fifth anniversary, I’ve invited five writers who have been anchors throughout my journey to contribute guest posts during the month. I asked each writer to pen whatever they’d like relative to the theme of transformation and turning tides.

Next up is Ashley Coleman.

Ashley is the mover and shaker. Whether she’s penning books, hosting workshops or standing at the helm of Permission to Write, her boundless energy never ceases to amaze me. It’s no surprise that she was the first person to send her guest post in for this series! But, aside from her unwavering discipline, Ashley intimately understands the DNA of her dreams. She is unafraid to take risks, innovate, improvise and do what’s necessary to translate her aspirations into action. I’m beyond inspired by her hustle, and I’m grateful for all the ways she roots for me and encourages me to push forward. I hope you enjoy her piece “When You’re Tired Of Who You’ve Been.”


It’s getting harder to remember who I was in my twenties. The things that I did, the jobs that I worked, the people I was around are all vivid. But the mindset evades me.

I think I’ve become so enveloped in who I want to be that the memories of who I was seem to be fading. All things become new right? But I try. I try to pull her up. I try to look back through those eyes. The girl who spewed anti-religious rhetoric before she knew who God was for real. The one who wasn’t sure she would ever love anyone the way she loved him. The budding songwriter. She’s peculiar to me now.

I see my higher self. Almost like she’s trapped and if I keep banging hard enough eventually the glass will shatter. I have laid myself on the altar because trying to do it all on my own has just left me tired and frustrated. I am learning the depth of what it means to be easy. Of what it means to be scarily focused yet extremely flexible all at the same time. I am learning what it means to have peace. Real, from the inside peace that is not easily shaken by outside stimuli.

I don’t want to be who I’ve been.

Ambitious yet doubting in my spirit because it’s just not moving fast enough. Wanting more money to have options but being afraid of who that makes me. Being grateful but wanting more. Wanting to send the card on time and be thoughtful, but constantly missing the mark.

The constant warring is unhealthy and to take a note from Nayyirah Waheed, “all the women in me are tired.”

I read the other day in the Bible that I am light and that a house built on a hill can’t be hidden. But can I be honest and say that sometimes I do feel hidden? Sometimes I feel like there is this huge life on the inside of me that for some reason just can’t get out. Recently, I have felt like I am in the way. Like I am the obstacle and the barrier for that life to escape and if I just could move. If I could just change and it’s both encouraging and maddening all at the same time.

See, because if it’s just me that’s in the way, that’s the one thing that I can control. But there is a pruning that needs to take place. A refinement. I need to be ushered into my best and highest self, which is no easy feat.

So much of this life has been about chasing things. About materialism and achievements and accolades. But in this space, I realize how much of my life needs to be about chasing me. Making the best decisions for myself, believing in myself, letting go of the nagging voices that just try to tell me I’m not good enough. Or that make me take for granted all that I do have, all that I am.

There is no more time to play small. There is no more time to simply react to life instead of setting the tone. This is your life, what will you do with it, Ashley? This is what I have asked myself on multiple occasions.

I can’t afford to wait for the tide to turn, I’m turning it.

I don’t want to exist in a life that feels stuck and unresolved and full of maybe ifs. I don’t want to exist in a life where I am plagued by the memories of good times instead of creating new ones. I will live assured, fulfilled, and with unmatched confidence.

The reality is I am not who I’ve been. Who I was would not even be able to see this clearly. I’m wedged in between who I was and the woman that I want to be, and I see her so clearly. I am the bud on the brink of blooming.

“I’m in charge,” to be read like Taryn Manning in Hustle & Flow. I am in charge of the transformation. I am at the helm of the ship. My thinking, my mind. That’s where it starts. The steering. Our lives will go in the direction of our thoughts. What have you been thinking?

I know for me, it has not been that I am fully capable and worthy of every great thing. But it is changing. It is morphing. It is transforming.

The girl in my twenties, I am okay with letting her go and realizing that the journey I am on may leave me unrecognizable on the other side.

Ashley Coleman is a writer and entrepreneur based in Philadelphia. The cultivator of the online space WriteLaughDream.com, she writes about life, love, and pursuing goals as a writer. She splits her work between helping other writers develop their voice and writing habits through one-on-one sessions, courses, and workshops and her own work in books like “Dear Love” and “Love on Purpose.” Ashley has been a guest lecturer at Temple University and a guest speaker at Blogalicious 8 in Atlanta. Her work has been published in GRAMMY.com, Essence.com, JUMP Magazine and more. 

Reflection [by GG Renee Hill]

For the Twenties Unscripted fifth anniversary, I’ve invited five writers who have been anchors throughout my journey to contribute guest posts during the month. I asked each writer to pen whatever they’d like relative to the theme of transformation and turning tides.

First up is GG Renee Hill. 

GG is the lighthouse. Over the past five years, I’ve watched her emit the sort of glow that helps so many others, including myself, find their way back safely to shore. There is a grace about her that I have long admired. I always feel  like I’m getting access to some sacred and rare gift every few months when we get together in a nondescript coffee shop and catch up. There are few people in this world who understand you deeply and without explanation. For me, GG has grown to be one of those people. I’m thrilled to kick off the Transformation and Turning Tides guest post series with GG. Here’s her story Reflection. 

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He figured me out too quickly. He got me laughing and feeling comfortable, making me want him before I really knew him. I knew that he loved my hair messy and my face with no makeup. I knew that he was young and unpredictable and I was drawn to him. His lips, his hands, even his crazy felt like home. He took me to meet his family. He learned the weird language I spoke with my friends and he spoke it fluently. He was attentive then aloof then attentive then aloof. That was how he hypnotized me. I was convinced his attention could heal me and the withdrawal was worth the high. I couldn’t say no to him. I couldn’t explain myself. All I could do was come when he called.

Being loyal to a lying man means ignoring your heartbeat, silencing your voice and diminishing your spirit. Pretending you don’t want all of him so you can be content with what you get. It means that fighting becomes foreplay because the thin line between love and hate keeps moving. You stop seeing clearly and the difference between real and fake gets blurry. You find yourself trapped inside a bleak and repetitive story.

Twisted Love. That’s what I called our story. The good girl and the bad guy. He didn’t want to be with me, but he didn’t want me to be with anyone else. He would go away but wouldn’t stay away. I said we were done but never meant it. We carried on like we had no choice. Break-up sex, make-up sex, i-love-you sex, i-hate-you sex. I was endlessly patient, thinking that if I were worth it, he would change for me. But he didn’t change. So I decided I wasn’t worth it.

We get so used to feeding lack to ourselves that we begin to hunger for it, looking for ways to satisfy the craving and stay full with its emptiness. It’s a heavy, manipulative, clingy thing. It’ll have you believing that you are damaged, unlovable, unfavored and out of options and you don’t have the capacity to change.

Our twisted love story was a reflection of my life. Afraid of not being enough and afraid of being too much, I tried to fit in. My neediness disfigured me and I couldn’t see the shape of who I was made to be. I didn’t dare to dream of more. Living like this makes you weary. The words you don’t say. The pain you smile through. The dreams you suppress. The disconnection I felt kept my mind occupied for long periods of time. But it taught me what I didn’t want to do and who I couldn’t bear to be. I couldn’t go through life playing a role anymore. All the lies I told myself were making my life feel so frail, like it could fall apart any second. I knew from experience that lies pile up and attract more lies, but I learned that truth multiplies too.

Once you open the floodgates and start admitting real things to yourself, the truth starts to overflow from your heart, then it takes over your mind and starts pouring out of your mouth. Truth moves things around and makes things fall down and rise up. When you start telling the truth, your life changes.

My truth made he and I feel like strangers. He seemed incapable of being vulnerable with me. I thought that maybe, just maybe, we could have an enlightened conversation and move on with positive vibes between us. But there were places in his heart he kept closed and I was not willing to pry him open. The twisted love story was finally ending. But something remained. A pulse lingered that I ignored for months. He must have felt it too because one night he asked if he could come over and sleep on the floor next to my bed, something he used to do when I was mad at him. It was as if no time had passed. I was still hungry for his attention so I said yes.

From the floor, with a soft voice I’d never heard before, he said that I cry more than anyone he has ever known and it confuses him. Sad smiles, happy tears and everything in between– he said my up and down feelings make him dizzy. He said when I’m low, I pull him down, and when I’m high, he can’t reach me. To him, it seems that I walk through life looking for reasons to feel wounded. He apologized for running. He held me accountable for staying.

I sensed that he had more to say but he got quiet.

Some words float over your head. Some burn out before they can reach you. Some crash into you and leave a mark. His words created a clean slice that opened me. I didn’t think this man had an emotionally intelligent bone in his body, but his words gave me a peek into what it’s like to be with me. I couldn’t get enough. I couldn’t explain why his words gave me hope and humbled me. All I could do was lay there and listen as he started talking again.

photo by TraciElaine Photography (@TraciElaine)

GG Renee Hill is an author, speaker and advocate for self-discovery through writing. A candid voice for mental health and self-care, GG writes about the joys and challenges of living an authentic life and being a fully expressed woman. This passage is an excerpt from her upcoming book, Underneath.

The 27th Birthday Post: When You Stop Writing And Start Living

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It was the year of finally getting out of your own way. Of surrendering the search for validation. Of throwing your hands up and letting your hair down. It was the year of stepping off the treadmill and seeking solace in the stillness. It was the year of finding refuge in the whims of the wind while you built a sanctuary out of your beautiful disasters.

It was the year of not knowing what was next. Of no longer cramming your planner with dates and reminders and minutiae, but understanding the beauty of blank canvases. It was the year you sometimes forgot to answer emails. The year of prioritizing private writing over public work. It was the year you finally learned that the words don’t move until the writer begins to dance. The words don’t sing until the writer hears the sound of her voice. The words mean little until the life is lived well.

It was the year of ombre weave and loud laughter and very few you-know-whats to give. The year of shamelessly sharing your number with men you didn’t text back. It was the year of whiskey over wine and yes over no.

It was the year of Tinder. My God, it was the year of Tinder.

It was the year of DMX’s How’s It Goin Down and Drake’s Too Good and Bey’s Don’t Hurt Yourself. It was the year of Ella Eyre’s We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off and Q-Tip’s Breathe and Stop and Adele’s Send My Love (To Your New Lover). It was the year of new music for old feelings and old music for new feelings and all of the music for all of the feelings.

It was the year of transformation. Of uprooting and undoing and upending. It was the year of your seventh apartment-this time only a few miles from DC, this time a place you finally knew you would call home.

It was the year of youth, of vibrancy, of concerts, of trap music, of turning up, of letting go.

It was the year of love. Of wedding vows and babies in bellies and that guy who finally kept a smile on your sister’s face. It was the year you told the Universe you were open to love and the year the Universe held you accountable for every single word you said.

It was the year you seriously considered what happens after Twenties Unscripted.

It was the year you knew everything would be more than OK when you chose to pack your bags, say goodbye to this Internet home, and begin the next voyage.

It was the year of leaning on others and offering shoulders for them to lean on you. It was the year of trust. Of transparency. Of real-life problems and true friendship without training wheels. It was the year of tears. Of breakthroughs. Of sunshine after storm clouds. It was the year you learned to celebrate other people’s victories just as much as your own.

It was the year you became the writer. Not the award-winning blogger. Not the author. Not the editor-in-chief. No, it was the year you became the writer – the woman behind the words, the soul at the center of the sentences.

Because it was the year you spent less time pushing the pen and more time surveying your spirit. Savoring the silence. Sinking your teeth into the morsels of your honeyed and moonlit life.

It was the year you lived. And not the kind of life you spent more than three years writing about, but the kind of life you relegated to the sidelines. The kind of colorful life you didn’t know was yours for the taking. The kind of life buzzing with feel-good vibrations. The kind of life you never caught your breath long enough to inhale.

It was the year you put the living before the writing.

And now that you know how sweet this wickedly beautiful life of yours can taste, you’ll never order the same things. You’ll never crave the same menu.

You, my love, will now always putting the life before the words.

Happy Birthday to you.

Xoxo,
Tyece