Are You Afraid of the Dark?

The cost of quiet is loneliness.
Part of the bed I made, so I can’t shy away from lying in it. The silence that usually feels like freedom occasionally threatens to suffocate me.
It shows up as a voice in my head screaming for something. I scroll my phone — click through streaming, podcast, and audiobook apps — searching for stimulus to shut out the nagging. Until I check my Digital Wellness app, see eight hours spent on my device, and realize that elusive thing I’ve sought all day is connection.

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You are what you are, playa…

I will start by acknowledging that I am a hit dog, hollering.
If there is one internet meme that I loathe more than any other (That’s a long list. I hate 95% of the internet.), it’s “[x human behavior] is a defense mechanism/trauma response.” Especially when the behavior in question is hyper independence.
Let me, Your Resident Hyper Independent Friend, tell you a secret: you don’t have to tell me my life has been traumatic. I was there. Some people can move through the world with no memory of the moment that irrevocably changed their lives, I’m not one of them. I can summon it — and the shock, pain, and sadness that accompanies it — with a tap of my finger. I’m doing it right now.
I was all set to spend this post raging until I had a chat with a former blogger friend of mine (still a friend, the “former” applies to their blogger status) about how “therapy 101” it all sounds. “[x behavior] is a trauma response” is a sentiment of discovery. An “Ah, I didn’t know this about myself.” No wonder it warrants a shrug from people who are intimately familiar with their dark corners. Well, obviously, we say, rolling our eyes. I’ve been through some shit.
Instead of raging, I’ll describe what comes after that discovery.

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The Death of Youth

I don’t want to be pressed about anything — least of all worrying if I’ve still got “it.”

I am not a young person.
Your instinct is to gasp. To launch into litanies about how much life I have to live and that I’m only as old as I feel and that 38 is the new 28 and all the other platitudes that make women feel better about aging and I’m going to stop you right there.
I did not call myself an “old” person. I said I’m not young.
As I observe my peers contemplating age and self-expression, I see the struggle. Letting go of youth means you’re old. Submitting to a sad life of mom jeans and sensible shoes or acting out a real-life Saturday Night Live sketch about old bitches in the club.

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This is 38.

What to say about the last year of my life?

It’s hard to do big, retrospective moments when you live a small life on purpose. But I guess that’s a good place to start: the decision to play it small.

It’s counter to everything we encourage, and boy, have I caught various levels of exasperation from friends when I describe myself as “ordinary,” but whittling my world into easily manageable parts has kept me afloat in the madness of the last year and a half. Not saying that I’m keeping up with Michael Phelps or anything, but I’m not screaming for life rafts via vague “check on your friends” memes on Instagram, so I’ve got that going for me.

As I think about it, though, I can see how small decisions in the last twelve months have added up to a theme. In March, I stopped going by “Skinny Black Girl.” In May, I quit Twitter after nearly 11 years of vomiting my inner dialogue into the world (142 days off that narcotic as of today). In August, I dropped my lifelong objection to strength training (crystallized by years of being the absolute worst at everything in elementary school phys. ed.) and picked up my first set of weights.

By the end of the summer, I had collected a handful of moments that felt like “last times” and it hit me that I was shedding skin.

To know me is to know I’ve had several radical life transformations. I flame out. I rise from the ashes. Rinse. Repeat. Stopping the rollercoaster and living in the middle makes those transformative moments harder to recognize, but in the slow, steady way that characterizes this phase of my life, I’m turning things over; making room for who I’ll be in the next decade of my life.

I’m excited to meet her. In the meantime, here’s to another year of clearing the way for her grand entrance.

50 Days Later

I am 51 days into my post-Twitter life.

I can’t say my skin is noticeably clearer or that my ass is any fatter, but I can hear myself think. For a woman who lives in her head, that is a marked improvement.

I’m developing patience for putting my thoughts on (metaphorical) paper. Before, I’d get bored mid-sentence, reasoning that if I didn’t care enough to get to the end of my thought, no one else would care to read it. That works for a “content creator,” but I write to figure myself out. Some times that means meandering — no matter how unsexy that is. How else will I get to the truth?

I was headed down this road before I quit Twitter, but leaving the app has solidified my commitment to selective public engagement with the news. I consume news as much as I did before, but I don’t comment on every headline because I’m a civilian, not a pundit. The Internet is run amok with opinions — it doesn’t need mine.

We’d all do better if we stopped treating our thoughts like gems that must be captured and shared. Our brains throw a million things at us a day, some (I’d argue most) of which should just fly by.

My final thought* — and this goes back to my original point about being able to hear myself think — is that it’s no wonder so many people have difficulty connecting with their intuition when we’re filling our brains with other people’s garbage all day long.

[*] My “final thought” for now. Obviously, my Twitter recovery will be a recurring theme.


I’m a work of art. Meant to be appreciated and left undisturbed.

The men who get this are the ones who are allowed to stick around. The best ones don’t need to be told or managed. They step in, stay behind the rope, and enjoy the piece on its merits.

The ones who don’t understand the rules—who want to carry me out of my place in the museum, who get too close and try to leave fingerprints on my pristine surface, who become lazy, crude consumers—are swiftly removed.

The most insidious offenders are the ones too caught up in their fantasy of the work to see it as it is. You know the type. They craft lengthy narratives out of its parts and tell themselves that because they’ve stared long enough, dedicated hours to spinning fanfiction out of their favorite parts, they know the creator’s intent.

I could blame myself. The best way to make people see the truth of you is to give it to them. To be a person; not a portrait.

No, thank you.

The occasional deluded fan is the cost of being a fantasy.