This is Your Life

My life is not a revolutionary act.

I’ve been trying to sit down to write this post for a week. Since a friend sent me the screenshot of a tweet that read:
 
“there’s a mvmnt of sorts on tiktok & youtube of black young women saying they are ok being average in looks & achievements & that they don’t necessarily want a high power/paying job. we need some solid writing about how this embrace of mediocrity can be a revolutionary act.”
 
It was the kind of hyperbolic word salad that drove me off Twitter in the first place, but my friend meant it as a compliment. For the last few years, I and the other mutual friend she shared it with have openly set aside notions of our extraordinariness in favor of just… living. She lauded us as visionaries in her text but it wasn’t long before we were picking the statement apart.

Continue reading This is Your Life

mad [wo]man

I had my first Don Draper moment in 2004.

I was at home on winter break after a personally disastrous first semester of my junior year of college. Sixteen years later, good and grown, I’m embarrassed at how viscerally I can recall the moment that snapped me in two; that I still tear up over something so small in hindsight because I can still feel myself shattering. The details are irrelevant, just know the situation is what I think of when I hear Destiny’s Child’s “Is She the Reason.”

If you’re a woman of a certain age, you can piece that particular disaster together.

On top of that, I was nursing another failure. Let’s just say I’d semi-committed to a certain organization and on the precipice of said commitment, realized my history with depression and what it would take to fulfill the commitment was a recipe for disaster. It wasn’t the type of thing I could walk away from with my reputation unscathed, so I anticipated some serious social consequences when I returned to campus for the following semester.

At some point during December 2004, while I licked my wounds from my bedroom in my mother’s apartment, I decided that the self I’d been up to that point had to die. Oddly, a quote from the boy who left me in pieces echoed in my head: “Play pussy. Get fucked.” I’d given too many people too much power and the version of me who allowed that bullshit would die in the tears I shed over break.

I was twenty-one years old. Petite, maybe too small for some, but pretty enough to receive appreciative glares when I strutted across campus. I still had a 3.9 GPA and rockstar status among all the professors in my major (Mass Media Communications). I had a group of ride-or-die homegirls, more sisters than friends, who had my back against all odds. There was a reason that organization wanted me; a reason that boy used my heartbreak as a boon to his fragile ego…

I was the shit. Henceforth, I would not allow anyone else the privilege of seeing me be small for them. My doubts, my fears, my nervousness, I’d bury them beneath the shiny veneer of the person I needed to be: polished, ambitious, and unapologetically arrogant.

I’d fake it until I made it. And you know what, reader? That shit worked.

With an adorable, preppy wardrobe from Express, a swing in my step, and the lyrics to Remy Ma’s “Conceited“[*] on a permanent loop in my head, the woman you know and love today was born; a phoenix soaring from the ashes of the Miss Goody Two Shoes I’d been for the first twenty years of my life.

It’s a tactic I’ve employed repeatedly and my twenties and early thirties were a roller coaster ride of adrenaline-inducing highs and devastating lows. After each crash, I’d survey the damage, decide who I needed to be to get back on my feet and throw myself into becoming that person full-throttle until I hammered any imposter syndrome into oblivion.

I guess that’s what makes this moment so unfamiliar. By my early thirties, flaming out exhausted me so I never let it happen again; opting for a consistent, manageable, neverending middle. My death this time around was a slow sputter, each stuttering cough releasing tiny puffs of fire until one day I put the car in neutral and coasted for as long as I could without any gas.

Which brings me to the present. A moment I can’t “decide who you want to be and become it” my way out of.

Because this time around, I don’t want to be someone new? I don’t want to whip my being into an idealized version of myself that requires all my mental energy to maintain. As terrifying as it sounds, I want to stand in the present and be in it, trusting I can handle what comes my way.

I want to be so comfortable in my skin that I don’t need a new self.


[*] Apparently, I took “I look too good to be having kids” literally.

dance in the flames

I’m an addition-by-subtraction kinda girl.

Blame it on my Moon in Scorpio or the ruthless minimalist in my head that believes the shortest route to peace of mind is through the obstacles blocking it, but I am far better at cutting out what I don’t want than identifying what I do want.

My imagination is pretty limited; creating a “vision” isn’t my jam. My visceral gut reactions to the intolerable, though? Never steer me wrong.

So I realized recently that I’ve been approaching this pressing, niggling, obsessive question of “Who Am I?” from the wrong perspective. It’s not about embracing some improved shiny version of myself that’s never existed.

It’s about eliminating the road block to what’s already at my core.

And that road block is shame.

It’s made me small. It’s made me try and fail—repeatedly—to fit myself into easy-to-consume archetypes that make me make sense to the world.

To find a mold to fill.

Like I’ve ever needed a fucking mold.

So I take these layers…

“Don’t say that.”

“You can’t do that.”

You sound bitter.”

You sound lonely.”

“That looks boring.”

“You’re too old.”

That’s not appropriate.”

Ew. People can’t know you like that.”

I set them ablaze and dance in the flames.