26

“Can I see your I.D.”

I roll my eyes internally, and sometimes outwardly, when asked that question.

“I am 25 going on 26, can’t you tell!”

But this post isn’t about how young lookin’ I am on the outside and how young actin’ I be on the inside.

It’s about the important lessons I’ve learned in my early 20’s; many I am still working on as I head toward them late twenties. 

  1. Some lessons are bigger than a person or the people involved. Give yourself time to heal from what makes us all human, but remember, the Universe/God uses people and situations to guide you. It is not right to hate or hold on to interpersonal anger. It is also not wrong to distance yourself from points of stress. But, let go of hate and let go of anger, and work to understand things outside of bodily experiences.
  2. Keep your childhood and/or college friends, they are love and moments you will never forget, but don’t be afraid to form one or two quality adult friendships with people who share your value/moral scale and who make you a priority. 
  3. Live honestly. Tell yourself the truth and be earnest with the people you encounter in this life.
  4. You will make mistakes, maybe even some big ones. Forgive yourself. The people around you will make mistakes, maybe even some big ones. Forgive them. Secondly, pay attention to how people in your life react and treat you when you do make mistakes. From there, decide how to proceed with them. There are people out there who will want to use your mistakes to write a negative narrative. There are people out there who will not forgive your mistakes. There are people out there who may never want to forgive you. Learn to be okay with that. Life is so much more than the mistakes we make, and that old saying about learning from them applies. 
  5. Set professional boundaries for yourself and don’t let anyone guilt you for it. At this stage in life, you are probably working to fulfill someone else’s dreams; you have dreams too — learn to leave work at work; log off your work email when you’re home; come up with a way to decompress before you get home; demand better pay; speak up for yourself when you’re treated like shit; bring down the patriarchy and white feminism!! — sorry, got carried away. Anyway, I’m not trying to get anyone fired out here, so do this responsibly.
  6. Therapy! Growing up in a Haitian household, I learned that no one deserves to know my family’s business. As much as I think discretion has a place, it’s not to be used when sitting on someone’s couch who you are paying to help you heal. Therapy can be expensive and depending on your health plan, it might not be feasible. In that case, find someone who you trust to be honest with you to speak with on a regular basis. Maybe it’s your favorite aunt who you call on the drive home from work. Maybe it’s your mama. Maybe it’s boyfriend number 2 who knows how to drop that philosophical knowledge.
  7. Know thyself (Delphi Ruins). I’ll share a short anecdote for this one. Someone once told me that I have no concept of privacy. It was a way for them to bully me in a conversation where that statement was unnecessary, but I wasn’t hurt because I know myself. I hold very few things private, purposely. The things I keep private usually have to do with other people’s business, but I generally feel comfortable openly sharing of myself. If I had not known myself enough to be comfortable with that truth, it could have made an already painful week in my life even more painful, but it did not because I know myself and that is a part of myself that I am comfortable with. In knowing yourself, it is important to accept that not everyone will love all aspects of who you are; that’s okay. 
  8. Choose love over loyalty. I learned this early in my 20’s and it’s an easier lesson for me because I am a natural critic. You will learn that human beings crave allegiance, we want loyalty, but loyalty can be dangerous. Hold close people who aren’t here to blindly support you but will be honest with you because they love you. Hold close people who will disagree with you but lovingly. Hold close people who know your faults but who will not belittle you.
  9. Educate yourself. You don’t know everything, no one does, so remain open to learning. I’m not only talking about classroom learning.
  10. Have a financial plan. My cat is sitting on her perch laughing at me as I write this rule because she sees me stressin’ about finances at least twice a month when I do a version of budgeting that ain’t really budgeting. In all seriousness, this lesson is my greatest challenge, but I am doing number 9 to help me get to a place where I have a solid financial plan.
  11. Learn a few legal things. Not every contract or agreement put in front of you is legit, know the difference and if you don’t, rely on friends who do to help guide you.
  12. Don’t settle for sub-par sex. Sex should be like eating ice cream. There are so many flavors, colors, tastes, cone sizes, textures — ice cream purists, don’t debate me on this, I like my ice cream melting soft, it’s a thing. This lesson is especially important for women because sex positivity is not encouraged in our culture. Anyway, you don’t have to settle for a lame who don’t know how to get in the mane, nah mean. And a secondary lesson, it doesn’t matter if the sex is heavenly if they treat you like crap. You are a freaken gawd, don’t be out here with sub-humans who don’t know how to return texts or calls. Thirdly, don’t be a crazy person and out here sending six paragraph text messages cuz the ice cream put you in coma — you gon’ be alright!
  13. Some people are assholes; you don’t have to be an asshole so don’t be an asshole. And if you ever are an asshole, own it and apologize.  
  14. You might not save the world, but you can change it. This TED talk says it all: https://youtu.be/JH6FBwbqxUA ((you better come back and finish reading this whole dag-on post!))
  15. Failing does not make you a failure, it makes you a scientist! Not exactly, but failing is not the end. When you fail, you learn. Remember that time when the hip-pop, rappin’ group Girls Time didn’t win that boring ass show… 25 or so years later, we got Beychella. I use this analogy because it’s important to Beyonce between the failures. Yes, I used Beyonce as a verb! Don’t sit here and gloat when you fail, figure out what led to the failure and determine how you can be better then repeat as many times necessary.
  16. Learn to be silent. I talk a lot so this is especially for the talkers… learn to be silent. You might not be right about everything you think you are right about, so be silent and observe every once in awhile. Of course, don’t use this lesson at the expense of using your voice or if it makes you feel small to be silent.
  17. Be.Be you,
    the truest version of you
    Filters are meant for Instagram,
    not the sound of your beautiful heartbeat
    You are a marching band,
    when your feet hit the ground pavement waves
    Find your rhythm,
    through the smiles and tears there’s a truth
    It is you.
  18. Support your friends and colleagues. It’s great to love Beyonce and attend every single show, but it’s also great to support your friend with the budding poetry, art, music, interior design, travel, etc… career.
  19. Take care of your health. Diabetes and high cholesterol run in my family, so I am taking better care of my health. As much as I would love to look like Teyana Taylor, I’m cool with my extra bootie and stretch marks as long as I am living a healthier life. Start small, right. Don’t overwhelm yourself. For me, this meant picking up an informational booklet on diabetes and cooking foods that combat the onset. It also means walking or jogging a couple times a week and doing weird little blood flow exercises in my apartment. I use to be so hardcore with my insanity and extreme fitness exercises, so I constantly need to remind myself to not set crazy expectations because it’s discouraging for me. Refer to number 7, know yourself enough to know what works for you.
  20. Be love, be peace, be whatever the heck you want to be!

Celebrate my birthday by reading my books: goo.gl/oE72rh

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PC: Kaila Skeet Browning

 

Am I a writer now?

“Bring yourself out of the chaos in your mind,” the voice floats on the clouds in the air. “Breathe in, slowly, now let it out,” it continues, “begin to think about all the pieces that make you who you are.” My feet start to tingle, I can feel them extend from the round neck of my folded Levi’s. Within seconds my arms start to reach down, they want to stop my feet from running away, but I’m distracted. “…Are you,” the beautiful vocal sounds return to me but I seem to have missed part of the conversation, I want to focus. It’s hard to listen to energy in the room when my limbs are becoming immanent. They have a greater purpose, there’s a weight that they are carrying, or maybe they are the weight. “…Who are you? Ask yourself, who are you?”

I don’t know how long I have been here. Distantly, I remember that I signed a contract for a two-week retreat. “Thursday, Friday, today must be,” my calculations are interrupted.

“Ask yourself…”

“It wants me to ask something.”

Someone else is present, “yes, it wants you to ask yourself.”

“Ask yourself, who are you.”

“I know some of you are distracted,” the foreigner seems to be talking to my heart. From where I’m laying down I can see it beating near a light, maybe that’s where my limbs are headed. “Listen.”

“Ask yourself, who are you. Ask yourself, who are you.” It all makes sense.

“Who are you?” I recognize these squawks, they are my own. “Who are you?”


You have just read the first chapter of a novel that I have been working on for almost a year. Wow, that’s almost 12 months–you must be nearing the last chapter. Wrong! I’m only about 30 pages into what I hope will someday be a book that is mass produced, available for many to read. It’s 1:42AM and as I struggle to piece together words, sentences, paragraphs… I’m beginning to wonder why this process is taking me so long. Why can’t I just bust out 217 pages like Beyonce does an album.

This isn’t my first writing project, but it’s my toughest. I’m trying to tell one structured story but I have so many tales to tell… I’m attempting to mod podge a series of life experiences, made-up characters, and shit that has been floating around in my mind for 23 years. I’m writing one novel but there are hundreds of stories dying to peel their way through the layers of my brain.

Writing has been my therapy, the reason I started piecing together poetry as early as third grade. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that these 30 pages have been shaking me up. They are 30 pages of tears, trauma, relief, imagination, culture… but they are especially a process of discovery as I struggle to define where I fit creatively in the world of writers.