Twenty-Seven: When It Comes To Purpose, You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide – A Birthday Post

I attended Demetria Lucas’ Cocktails with Belle event a few weeks ago in Midtown Manhattan and found myself overwhelmed ten minutes into the event. I was alone, with no plus one or arm candy like many of the other attendees that flooded The Chester, off Park Avenue. I ate at a candle-lit table by myself and glanced at the fans and “big media people” arrive in packs, quickly filling up available seats and leaving late-comers to stand against the wall. I sat at a table for two, solo. As awkward as that was in the beginning, I began to grow comfortably in my seat towards the kickoff of season two of Blood, Sweat, and Heels. I’ve grown used to being alone since this journey began. There are no available slots for Rob or my girlfriends to attend events with me. No one is up with me at 3:15am, after a two-hour local commute, assisting me in writing an article that’s due before clocking in at the job that’s the bread and butter in six hours.

Late nights and loneliness – that’s what this has all been. But you want it, so you grow accustomed to it, hoping your boyfriend and your bestie that couldn’t tag along with you, understands. You pray your kids know that, “Mommy’s just chasing a dream,” and cultivate that same hustling spirit when they get older. You pray. You pray hard, sometimes a little too loud on the train, with someone side-eyeing you and questioning your crazy. With all things transpiring and aligning itself for you, you think just that: am I going crazy?

At the end, I snag my second photo with Demetria and head to the bathroom before proceeding to the train station for my commute back Uptown. I think about sleeping in the last car, in a corner where no one will spot me, mouth open wide with the highest possibility of drool trickling out.

I bump into Christina, Demetria’s publicist, who says hello and tells me she meant to say hi earlier. I feel good. I feel good because in a sea of people, Nikon flashes, celebratory glass clinks, and waiters pacing through a tightly-packed room, someone spotted me. In a moment of solitude, my presence was noticed; how ironic.

The game of hide and seek has been a reoccurring theme at 27. It’s during the times I try to bury myself, my insecurities and fears, that God and the Universe conspires to make sure the best parts of me is exposed and I not only prove unbelievers wrong, but myself as well.

This entire year as shown me that no matter how much I want to tuck myself under my covers, bunch up into a ball, cloak myself and my issues in a blanket of invisibility, someone spots me. Sends me an email for an opportunity; calls me with some shit; texts me more information on something. It doesn’t stop. Twenty-seven has shown me that you cannot run from your gift, your calling, your passion, your purpose. You can try to sleep it off, drink it away, curse it heavily, and kick the hell out of it into a corner, but when it’s for you, it’ll wake you up, sober you up, ignore your profanity, and drift right back into the scene of things because you can run, but you can’t hide.

Visiting my alma mater last weekend, I sat down with one of my sorority sisters, a licensed social worker, and read some of last year’s most popular posts to her. She sat there in awe and in tears in her eyes, and I even stunned myself revisiting the memories of yesteryear. I was informed that a lot of the language in some of the posts were similar to that used in counseling. How odd was it that I am somehow living out my college dreams twofold; writing and helping women, simultaneously. How could I continue to run from this? Everything manifested itself in due time, after hesitations and hard work, after the tidal waves caved in and somehow I had enough in me to keep swimming.

I don’t know what else to say that hasn’t been said from last birthday year’s post to this year’s, but I’m out of my shell, no longer finding comfort in my cocoon, and not afraid to be out there and shine in the world – even if it means I have to stand alone for quite a while.

Thank you to Stacy-Ann Ellis for making me believe in chances all over again.

Twenty-Six: Reflect, Remove, Revise. – A Birthday Post

I rewrote this post about twenty-something times now. I typed, typed, typed my little heart out and at 1,429 words, I read it over, contemplated on publishing it, and ended up nixing half. I tried to build off of what I had kept and still the words didn’t flow how I wanted them to. Write, reflect, remove words, revise the whole thing; that’s all I’ve been doing. I turned to one of my closest girlfriends – my journal. 

I opened her up, looking for a fresh page to jot my frustrations on, and found an entry three days after my twenty-sixth birthday that pissed me off even more. Going over the words, I commended myself for the ability to hold back. Yay Erica, you didn’t let those tears you’ve been meaning to let out, out. Shout out to you Erica, you kept your mouth shut about situations you had the power to change. Wrong, wrong, wrong. I don’t know how I confused reservation, limiting myself and denying my right to openly express how I felt towards my family, friends, and in my relationship, as strength. I held myself back, held on to the wrong people, and hindered my own growth. 

I went on to read the next few entries, noticing a cycle of the same scenarios starring different cast members. I wrote down something that I heard during an argument about scapegoating, “It’s always other people, but never you. When do you step back and take responsibility for the things you do?“. The next page, a quote (not my own), “after creating a pattern of attracting selfish and disloyal people, I realized my disloyalty to myself was being projected subconsciously.

All of this shit happened in order for a shift to happen. In me.

Reflect.

For far too long, I’ve placed blame on other people, telling myself that occurrences were due in part to the faults go others and never my own. It was easy to point the finger, forgetting three more were facing my way and the phrases, “It happened because he…” and “She was the reason why…” became a regular. But when I sat myself down one night, in an empty apartment and two empty bottles of wine, and reflected on everything that was going wrong, I noticed the problem lied within myself. 

I was feeding myself things I had no business partaking in. What I indulged in, became me. The energy I gave off, I received back tenfold. If I really wanted to change my situations, if I truly yearned for growth, I had to come to terms with the fact that a lot of healing lies in responsibility. I made excuses and enabled bullshit. People were comfortable doing the very things I despised around me because well, folks will treat you in the way you display yourself and the boundaries you set. I thought I had it all together but reality will present the work that’s happening inside before people even notice what’s going on outside. That speaks a whole lot louder than what can be covered up. 

Remove.

My outlook was a reflection of what was happening inward. I’ll never forget my coach telling me there was nothing wrong with feeling the things that I felt, that my emotions were there for a reason – the guilt, the exhaustion, the emptiness. It was trying to tell me something but for as long as I suppressed myself yet, supported others, I’d forever land in a place of stagnation. I mastered the art of cursing out and cutting people off, however I needed to check myself. I had to release those emotions and remove/release myself from people.

For a while, it was a lot of, “it’s not you, it’s me”. People close to me didn’t understand what was happening and at the same time, I didn’t either. Diverting my energy into myself was unfamiliar territory when I was always used to making someone else the nucleus of my life, but exposing myself to the world of self-protection felt right. I needed to talk to myself and be outright honest, even if it hurt. My sorority sister said something profound that embodied everything I felt in the course of this period:
I’m one of those people who can drown in a project or a person or obsession. And I’ve found it so critical to take a step back because distance allows you to see past the muddled sentences of the every day and to the bigger beauty of the work you’re doing.” (Elizabeth Acevedo)

I had to fall back. When I got through serving explanations on pretty little platters to people, I got to the point of, well if no one understands, I guess I’ll see them next lifetime.

Revise.

How can you receive an increase where there hasn’t been an investment? Reap when you have not sown? Harvest when you have not planted?” – Bishop TD Jakes

I’m here now – modifying and mending pieces of me. To receive that increase, to reap the benefits and fruits of my labor. Some things I can cut in half and do over. Some things I cannot edit. I got to deal with the fact that some things can’t be deleted. I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t find closure in certain situations without acceptance first. I need to be more adaptable. I need to be passionate about the respect I want. I need to be stubborn with how I want to be treated by others. I have a right to forgive and not forget. My inner-child needs healing. Healing is progressive. There’s a difference between being better and being whole. You are no better than what you eat. As I grow, I will outgrow others. I have to create a habit of following my intuition. I have to keep on shamelessly expressing myself. I’m a work in progress – the artist and the art. 

I learned all of that in the past year, in addition to what I wrote here.

How this post finally came about was the sum of my twenty-sixth. 

And I can already see what twenty-seven will hold: Purpose. All I can say is, I’m grateful.