On being a yellow bellied ass coward…

I said I was working toward transparency, right? Welp, this may be the most transparent I’ve ever been. Stream of consciousness, likely unedited. Thinking out loud, no Ed Sheeran.

This week I’ve been thinking about the root of all of my problems. I keep saying I’m not motivated enough to actually complete some of the goals I’ve set out for myself, but honestly that’s a big fat ass lie. I’m just scared. Scared of failing, scared of success, scared of mediocrity, scared of…every goddamn thing, tbqmfh. And the two areas of my life that encompass the things I want most are the areas in which this fear is the most debilitating.

I’ve been writing since I was able to hold a pencil dexterously. My grandmother’s cousin has been saying I should write a book since I was eight years old, literally. She tells a story of us visiting them in St. Louis and she came into the room where I was telling my baby cousin a story. She thought I was reading him a book, but it was of my imagination. I have no recall of this happening, but every time I see her she asks, “Have you written that book yet?” and reminds me of this story.

I didn’t start writing seriously until high school. I wrote an epic novel called Underscore loosely based on the lives of my circle of friends. It’s probably chilling on a floppy disc in storage somewhere, but has never been seen by another set of eyes, but my own. Which is the way almost all of my writing has gone until very recently. Despite being a voracious reader and fairly confident in my own ability to string together words in a coherent and consumable fashion, I’d never felt my writing was “good enough”. I compared it to the writing of my favorites and it all seemed so pedestrian and not compelling. My prose wasn’t lyrical, complex, or soul stirring, to me. It was just…aight.

But then an amazing thing happened. I connected with my homie Tahmeka on Twitter and one day she decided she wanted to create a writing group. I jumped at the chance, but entered it so trepidatiously. The group was composed of five women who, at the time, were virtual strangers. The idea was to create an environment of welcoming energy that would garner constructive criticism and eventually help me along my road to eventual self-publishing. The group was great.  The ladies were (are, hell…) talented and we were all coming from different places in life, with different outlooks and outputs. It was an experience for which I will forever be grateful because of the reception to my writing and the questions posed that I hadn’t thought of when thinking about my characters and their motivations. The friendships forged through this small community of writers helped spawn other endeavors in my life as well as just amazing connections with dope ass people.

And it was here that I felt like I found my voice and its…purpose, place, etc. It was here that I shed all need to compare what I was doing to what had come before and what would come after me. This was where I decided that I needed to get the work out, by any means necessary. Because my words had value and could resonate with a larger audience, but to allow myself to be continually debilitated by self-doubt is doing no one any justice. So I dug in voraciously, writing like I was running out of time. Sharing the best of with the ladies in the group until we kinda petered off and I was left once again in the wilderness. And in this wilderness is where the bone-chilling fear set in.

The road of my writing “career” is almost exactly identical to my “love life” or lack thereof. So there’s this song by Janet called “Everytime” and she sings “I’m scared to fall in love/ Afraid to love so fast/ Coz every time I fall in love/ It never lasts…” I think about this line often when someone brings up my singledom. I was having a conversation with a friend recently who read the archives of this damn site and was ribbing me about “digging my potatoes” instead of jumping into the goddamn double dutch game of dating.

For a while, I kept saying “I’m not ready”, claiming to still be irreparably damaged from the cycle of fuckboys I entertained through my early-to-mid-to-late 20s. Then it became “well, I’ve been alone all this time, what the hell do I need love for? I can do bad all by myself”…mad Perryisian of me.

If you ask anyone who has known me since I was a child. my stance on love and marriage and children and families, they’d tell you things about me that you’d be loath to believe if you’ve just met me in this millennium. My famous “no room in the womb” stance would be laughed off by them, citing very specific historical data in which I  staunchly contradict that stance. And yeah yeah, people get older, things change, but honestly my stance hasn’t changed because of any epiphany or enlightening or evolution. The root of the turncoat ass way in which I approach these things now is fully entrenched in fear.

I’ve been feeling the tug of motherhood for a minute now, something I try valiantly to tamp down. Excuse after excuse tumbles from my mouth as I try to maintain the facade of being okay with being in my (almost) mid 30s in a job that’s stagnant with no life partner and no offspring and no prospects of either being on the horizon. It’s much easier to pretend to be unaffected than face up to the harsh reality of being scared to death of dying alone having not left an indelible mark on this world either through effecting change or leaving behind offspring.

I recently did an inventory of my life, the things I thought were missing and the things I hoped to be able to reconcile and nearly all were directly affected by my fear of just not being enough. Not good enough, not smart enough, not skinny enough, not clever enough, not wise enough, not strong enough, not kind enough…I could go on and on, but your get the point.

But the thing that scares me the most? Honestly? Living a life that is constantly stifled by these fears and dying a coward ass, bitchmade woman.

On LEMONADE

This is not a think piece. This is a fangirl piece mixed with a bit of personal reflection, resignation, hopefulness, doubt, dread, apprehension, hope and more fangirling.

So unless you’ve been completely out of it, you’ll know that my personal favorite all around entertainer Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter took over HBO last night with a project called Lemonade. Prior to its start, none of us knew what this was going to be. A movie? Her and Blue sipping many flavors of lemonade for an hour? Didn’t know, didn’t care, just knew that she had told me to be looking at the television machine on that Saturday evening so I sat my ass in front the television screen that Saturday evening.

(I’d like to pause and say I have ZERO problem following directives from my faves that don’t involve me directly harming myself or others. Some people think that this is following or blindly pledging ones life to a celebrity, but honestly, it’s more about the trust that I have in them to never let me down and give me some shit that I want/need/desire. I have [mostly] really discerning tastes when it comes to those for whom I will blindly drop everything.)

I wasn’t home, so I wasn’t certain what my viewing experience would even hold as my family isn’t one to sit there and quietly view anything. In the hours leading up, we watched two films together that were playing on HBO–San Andreas and Jurassic World. I cannot put the onus of being not shutupable on my family because I asked 5012 questions through the viewing of both of these films. I was really concerned that everyone was going to die and I didn’t want to be in a somber mood before The Yoncé came through and snatched my lil fledgling edges.

Anyway. I digress. Eventually the hour of Lemonade was upon us and I said to everyone in the room “Y’all are at a ten and I need you to be at about a one, so I can pick up what she’s putting down.” But alas, much like in every other sector of my life, folks did what the hell they wanted to do anyway. So between a steady stream of chatter and a few entrances into my cousin’s house that interrupted my viewing, I watched. I was amazed by the cinematography. Blown away by the interstitial poems woven betwixt songs. Moved to tears at the appearance of Sybrina Fulton and Lezley McSpadden. Amused at the bat named hot sauce. Validated in my theory when I saw Jay caressing his wife’s ankles (dude seriously has a thing for her calf/ankle situation).

But it wasn’t until I was home and watching LEMONADE alone in its entirety that I had a startling epiphany. Well, I’m not so much sure it is an epiphany as much as a wake up call? Anyway…in the second to last song of the album, Beyoncé scrings “Hey! I’ma keep running/ Coz a winner don’t quit on themselves” and it was like she punched me in my fucking chest.

There hasn’t been a real blog here in a few weeks. I could lie to y’all and say it is because I’ve been busy with school and pressing social engagements, but that’s not the entirety of the truth. While that is a partial reason, I’ve honestly just not been writing. It’s a cyclical thing with me. I get gung-ho about my abilities and feel invincible. I make all sorts of promises to myself and others about how this time I’m really in it to win it and they should be getting ready to get on the winning team.

But undoubtedly, the niggling feelings of self-doubt creep in and I allow them to overcome all of that tenacious spirit that ruled previously. I’m overcome with “no one reads, no one cares, you’re a hack, burn your pages & pen…” and I quit. I simply lie down, give in to defeat. I quit on my goddamn self.

So that line in particular resonates with me as I sit in front of a blank screen with cursor taunting, the need to write niggling away at me. I said that I was going to write fearlessly without censorship, but I haven’t done that. I still shutter parts of myself and my feelings for fear of how my thoughts or I will be perceived. But this morning I read an amazing piece of writing by my friend Synitta. In it she is pure, honest, unfitted, vulnerable and raw. And it resonates. Despite not having personally experienced the emotions she talks about in the piece it still pierced me, deeply.

And that’s what I want to do. I want to write things that move people, shift emotion, evoke feelings, better society and most importantly, help me grow. To do that though, I have to stop giving up on myself. Unlearning this behavior is going to be hard, but I’m going to do my damnedest to do it. You know why?

Coz I’m a winner damnit!

On gratitude…

I’m not the easiest person to get along with at times. I’m ornery, moody and generally unpleasant at some junctures. The crazy thing is, people willingly put up with this shit and for that? I am eternally grateful. I try not to go Super Bitch too often, instead choosing to retreat into a shell until I feel like the normal J instead of the hypersensitive, surly J that manifests in the times of turmoil. So I just wanna say thank you to all of you that put up with my bullshit. You’re more appreciated than words could ever express.

On being comfortable…

Earlier this week I had lunch with someone I used to work for. I’m not comfortable calling her a friend because we don’t know each other like that outside of 231, but she is definitely someone whose counsel I’ll seek on professional matters or to just vent when I’m feeling frustrated with how certain things are progressing. She offers sensible advice and is always there with a word to bring ya girl down from the ledge I ascend at least thrice weekly.

While we were noshing and gossiping, I was telling her about my professional development woes. She listened to me rail on, with no interjection. When I was done she said to me, “I think your talents are being wasted. You are way too extroverted for a job that basically requires you to be with your head down for 90% of the day. You need to be more student facing, you’re far too charming and charismatic to be stuck [doing x] all day. Don’t get me wrong, you’re great at your job, super analytical and decisive, but again–your talent relies in your interaction with people.”

Naturally I silently basked in the compliments while awkwardly accepting them as I do. Then I sat with it for a bit because she hit on some points that I’ve been mulling over myself. See, I’m loath to call myself an extrovert, but the more I’m around or witness true introvertism (roll with me and my made up word)–I’m thinking maaaaaaybe I am an extrovert.

See, I always associated extrovertism with loud, brash, bold folks who always had to be the center of attention. Ironically enough, that’s almost a classic textbook categorization of my star sign. I’ve never been that way though. I used to be super slow to warm to folks when I first met them because of crippling self-doubt. “Will they like me?” “Am I dressed ok?” “What is my face doing right now?” “Oh my god, they hate me.” People often thought I was quiet/shy as a result. Those who knew me best told a different story. They got to witness my wicked sense of humor and general silliness.

Somehow…and I don’t know when…it all turned though. I’m still not that loud, brash person immediately, but I’m definitely more outgoing. I’m more likely to speak up when I feel my opinion will add some sort of value to a conversation. I’m less meek; more decisive. And it’s all a result of just being more comfortable in who Jeanette is as a person. Embracing all parts of myself as human; not hiding behind or being ashamed of one thing. Knowing that I’ll stumble and make mistakes, but it’s okay. Knowing that everyone won’t like me and though it will hurt my sensitive ass feelings, that is okay too.

And it’s an amazing place to be in quite honestly. It’s taken long enough for me to finally settle into who I am and embrace her flaws and all, but it’s easily the best feeling I’ve ever encountered. I spent most of my life feeling like I never fit. I was never [x] enough or too [y]. I concentrated on my shortcomings instead of celebrating my victories, big & small.

Just recently I’ve decided to undertake a gigantic task that I’m no longer speaking about publicly. When I was speaking about The Thing publicly, those niggling feelings of self doubt and anxiety crept back in and made themselves at home. This Thing that was supposed to be my port in this shitstorm of life right now became the very thing I grew to dread. My comfort level was concave and as a result, I began to shun The Thing. I let outside forces dictate how I should do The Thing and forgot who I was and what I stood for for a longer chunk of time than I was comfortable with.

I took a break and assessed what I needed to do. When it all boils down, my comfort is king. If I’m uncomfortable? Shit ain’t happening. I shut down immediately. Knowing myself, my comfort zones and limitations has allowed me to recenter myself and maybe start back at The Thing. On my own terms. And at first I felt like a failure because I was quitting the thing. But taking the step back to assess myself and what makes me feel best allowed me to look at The Thing in a whole new light.

I wasn’t worried about what this or that person thought about my relationship to The Thing anymore. The Thing is more me than anyone else. I lost myself for a bit, thinking I was widening my comfort zone, but in fact I was stifling myself by letting the thoughts, feelings, ideas and opinions  of outside forces direct my thoughts. Welp, that shit’s DUNZO.

I’m back in my zone. Watch me work.