Creating the life you want, regardless.

I’ve been unhappy and stagnant in San Francisco for quite some time. If I’m being honest with myself on the timeline, I’ve been thinking about moving for about 2 years. I flip and I flop – LA, Miami, NYC, New Orleans, a quaint life in an upstate New York village? I’m searching for something, but I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. I keep trying to find the perfect location to start my new life. I can envision my life in each new place, but there’s always something off. I don’t want to drive. I don’t want a tiny apartment. I don’t want to deal with flying cockroaches. I want more diversity. I don’t want to live in Florida.

So, I plotted out the year and made a list of cities. Then I contemplated living abroad and started mapping out those options. Finally, I thought about the realities of my life. I’m a freelancer and I have work on the books until June, which means that realistically no move will happen until then. I’m stuck here in San Francisco for half the year. Ick.

Okay, Tara. Dig deeper. What is it about moving that is appealing to you? Is it being in a more diverse place? Having a better apartment? Having a better social life? I mean, yes, it is all of those things, but it’s also about the person I am when I’m not at home. When I’m abroad or I’m traveling for work, I am just so different. I’m so OPEN to things. I smile and flirt with strangers (both online and in person). I make solo dinner reservations at fancy restaurants. I amble through the city, just meandering and getting a feel for my surroundings. I allow myself to just be. Sure, I’ll make a to-do list every now and then, but for the most part, I really just take the time to explore. In my 9 years here in SF, I can only think of one time that I made a solo dinner reservation and it wasn’t even in San Francisco, it was in Oakland. It’s like something about being “home” means being dull and unadventurous to me.

When you move somewhere when you are young, it is exciting and vibrant and fun. You are in your early or mid-20s and everyone is partying and going out and trying new restaurants and having a grand, old time. A decade later and I’m 33, single, and childless. Many of my friends are in serious relationships or have gotten married or have children. I mean, people are having multiple children. Many have moved out of the city. It’s not that I’m not ready for that life yet – I am. I want a man and a child and all of that, but I don’t have it yet. When you are single and childless and your friends are not, you watch your social life change drastically and oftentimes you adjust your routines to match. I mean, don’t get me wrong – I’m not expecting people with fresh babies to be pop, lock, and droppin it (this is how you know I’m old because ain’t nobody doing that anymore and none of the youngins will even get that reference), but I am still capable of living that life. There’s nothing stopping me from going out to bars and clubs (okay, maybe not clubs… I am in my 30s). So why have I allowed myself to give up?

I am a firm believer that you shouldn’t let anything stop you from living the life you want to live. I have seen too many people use certain excuses to hold themselves back from a better reality. “I’m not going to travel because I don’t have anyone to go with.” “I’m waiting until I have a boyfriend before I do that.” “I would love to meet someone, but I just need to lose a few pounds first.” For me, I remember trying to get a group of friends to go to LOS ANGELES (from freaking San Francisco) and being unable to make it happen. That was when I decided – fuck this shit. I’m going to travel wherever the hell I want to, even if I have to go alone. I’ve taken so many solo trips. I’ve been on at least 4 group trips with complete strangers. I may die a spinster, but God knows I am not waiting on any man to do anything. I went to an orgy by myself! There is literally nothing I can’t do alone. I’ve gained more weight than I am comfortable with, but I still put myself out there, still go on dates and have flings. I still find cute ass bathing suits and dresses for when I want to get dolled up. I’m fat, not dead. I’m always game for new experiences. I have a story for everything. And yet, in my day-to-day life in San Francisco, I’m living like a cloistered nun. Somehow, I’ve let my location become this albatross around my neck, and I can’t seem to break free.

If I left SF tomorrow, I don’t doubt that I would enjoy my next location. It would be novel and exciting and different. And after a few years… it wouldn’t be, and I would be yearning for the next city. I don’t think I’m going to live in SF forever, but I also know that I can’t spend the next 6 months bitching and moaning about this place. It solves nothing. Instead, I need to focus on how I can start being the me that I am when I’m away and bring that energy to San Francisco. Keeping that spirit of adventure and openness and YES wherever I live. I’m pretty sure once I do that, I’ll discover that I can be happy anywhere.

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let’s talk about sex.

Sex and consent and agency are at the top of the news right now. From #metoo to Aziz Ansari to Ann Curry’s interview today, it’s impossible to escape the topic of sex, even if you wanted to. Over the past year, I have very much wanted to do just that.

Losing touch with my sexuality has been an interesting turn of events, one I couldn’t have predicted. I was a precocious kid, whose favorite book had large photos of sperm and eggs, who watched Real Sex on HBO late at night when everyone was asleep, and who chased after the elusive female orgasm. As a shy person, it took me longer to find sexual partners, but once I did, it was like I had unlocked this secret part of my personality that was alluring and desirable. I took pride in my sexual abilities. I viewed sex the same way I viewed my education or my career – I wanted to be the absolute best at any and everything I did. Aspire to excellence always.

I don’t regret any of my experiences – I’ve crossed many things off of my sexual bucket list, and I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process. But, something has shifted inside of me and changed the way I choose to interact with men. I was reminded of it when reading the young woman’s account of her date with Aziz Ansari. I don’t think it’s presumptuous to say that most women have had sexual experiences that didn’t sit well with them. I know I have. There were men who were too forward, men who didn’t listen to me when I told them not to do x/y/z, men who kept pressing when the answer was no. Most of these experiences I have laughed off or buried into the recesses of my mind or worse, re-skinned as stories to share with my friends that show how open, adventurous and sexually progressive I am. The latter shames me the most. That need to take something that felt wrong and turn it into something that makes me sound empowered. What a fraud I am.

Casual sex should be easy, but often it isn’t. The vast majority of men don’t make it easy for women to have no strings attached sexual encounters. It’s not impossible – I’ve had a few partners who were invested in my pleasure and treated me like a human being, while understanding that the nature of what we were doing was short term. The problem is those men are few and far between. Most men treat the women they are casually fucking like disposable sex toys – willing, able, and available for their pleasure with no regard to what that woman wants, how she feels, or what turns her on.

Look, I loved my heaux days. They were fun, they were exciting, and when I finally settle down, I will feel like I left no stone unturned sexually. I gave them up because I hated that disgusting feeling I got from dealing with men that I knew had no respect for me and couldn’t even be bothered to get me off. I got tired of feeling like I was giving and giving without getting anything in return. And for what? So I could have a story to tell my friends? So I could feel somewhat validated by the attention and touch (however fleeting and uncaring) of a man? Sadly, it just stopped being worth it for me.

I’m always going to be here for women fucking whoever they want, however they want, and whenever they want. There is no shame in that, and no one should make you feel ashamed of doing whatever you want with your body. I just wish that I could exercise that desire without men making me feel like trash. I’ve been taking the past few months to really look at my sex life. I’ve started saying no to men I used to mess with because I realized they weren’t really there for me. I could write a whole other post on how entitled men feel to your time, attention, and body, even when they offer you literally nothing in return. I could also write a post about how butthurt and wild they act when you finally decide to say no to them.

In an effort to find some clarity, I decided to immerse myself in the BDSM community, a world that is by no means perfect, but at least has a framework for discussions on consent, compassion, and care. I’m learning a lot about what kinds of partners I want and what kinds of sex I want to have with those partners. How I want – no, how I DESERVE to be treated. I’ve been delving into things like tantra, femdom, findom, and sacred sexuality. I don’t think sex needs to be reserved for marriage or long-term relationships, but I believe that I am owed a baseline level of decency and respect from anyone lucky enough to get into bed with me. If that means I have fewer partners, then so be it.

black girl magic weekend.

Flying back from Fort Lauderdale from the Happy Black Woman Manifest Your Vision 2018 Retreat. First of all, WHY is this flight so long? I’m actually dying and we still have an hour and 15 minutes to go. Six hours is too long to be on a plane without going to another country. But, I digress. This retreat was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had in a long time, and it really makes me feel like I’ve finally stepped into 2018. We basically spent 7 and a half hours each day for three days doing deep work on ourselves and diving into what it is we want to achieve in 2018. We also had this amazing board breaking exercise where I broke a board with my bare hands. It made me feel so fucking powerful and ready to take on the year.

The thing I loved the most about this retreat is that it was geared towards ACTION. I love to ruminate on things – to research and plan and make lists – and sometimes I forget you actually just have to DO it. I’ve gone to a few of these types of retreats in the past and while some of them have been transformational (Morocco being the highlight), others have really just stirred up energy inside me with no outlet. Over these three days, we were able to stir shit up, break through our mental barriers, and then carve out the steps for a plan of action. I left feeling like I’d dredged up some deep emotional shit, but that I also had a path to get through it. Hallelu!

It was also so wonderful to spend so much time in the company of black women. Living in San Francisco and working in tech, that is not a reality for me ever. In most spaces I operate in, I am the only or one of few. It’s really hard. It’s isolating and frustrating and sometimes scary, to be honest. So to be enveloped in the magic of black women, even if just for a 3-day weekend, was restorative. I mean, seeing all the different hairstyles alone was worth it! I’ve just found that I feel less self-conscious and more myself when I can be in black female-led spaces. Don’t get me wrong – I’m still socially awkward AF, but all of my other insecurities melt away.

Being a shy girl, I get excited whenever I make ANY connections, but I made quite a few this weekend. I have two accountability partners and we’ve already set up our weekly calls to review our progress. I met a sister from Baltimore that I exchanged contact info with and will definitely visit next time I go to see College BFF. A bunch of women were really interested in my business, and I handed out some cards. I also made some investments in myself. The first is working with one of the speakers (a personal stylist in LA who works with a lot of celebrities) to get my look together. Lord knows I need help. I know how to rock my shit when I’m at a formal event or a party, but I need to figure out a day-to-day look that doesn’t scream I WORK IN TECH. I also signed up for the Happy Black Woman Launch Your Business bootcamp because I’m serious about (a) multiple streams of revenue (b) leaving tech for good and (c) getting my shit up and launched in 8 weeks. INSANE!

I’m definitely going to be attending the retreat again next year. It gave me the time to still my mind, check out of work and life, and focus on ME. More to come on what I’m working on 🙂

late night resolutions.

It’s currently 3:47am, and I’m doing anything I can to avoid packing before my 10am flight. As I ease my way into 2018, I’m trying to decide what I really want to focus on for the year. Normally I pick a theme or a word, but I’m kind of bored with that approach and nothing groundbreaking is coming to mind. I thought about Year of Thot, but I don’t need to center my whole year around my heaux activities. Instead, I have a few subtle tweaks I’d like to make to enhance the quality of my life.

  1. Stop complaining so damn much: I’m really trying to ban negativity from my life, which means I gotta start from within. I’m a naturally optimistic and very excitable person. I get all smiley and happy at the drop of a dime. It doesn’t take much. And yet, I also love to indulge in complaining sessions. When I don’t have anything to say, I’ll often default to some negative observation about the world around me. I need to stop doing that. My life is pretty dope. The shit I complain about is usually stupid first world problems. If I’m depressed or going through some shit, sure – I can share that with the world, but I’d like to stop the habit of complaining just to complain.
  2. Limiting my GChat use: I think the worst thing about being on GChat 24/7 (which I’ve basically been doing since Google created the damn thing) is how available it makes you to the world. While I’m definitely getting out of my hermit phase, I’ve been finding that when I’m at home in my apartment, I kind of just want to be zen. I love chatting with people at work, but when I’m home and trying to focus it’s hard to keep up with all the pings, and I feel pressured to respond. So I know I need to just log off.
  3. Stop talking about work: One of the things I hate the most about Silicon Valley and tech in general is the fact that everyone talks about work ALL THE TIME. I know SF isn’t the only city that does this (New York and DC come to mind), but it just feels so much more oppressive in SF for some reason. I wrote a post last year entitled I Am Not My Job, while still continuing to talk about work in most of my social conversations. ::facepalm:: I just don’t want my job to be the most interesting thing about me or the thing that I am defined by. At least not my tech job. When I’m a ballin entrepreneur creating exciting products and experiences, I would love to talk about that, but it feels so tedious to talk about my corporate tech job. I know you don’t care because I don’t care 🙂
  4. Speak up: I am far too quiet for my own good. I’m super shy in situations and even if I have something important to say, I will just sit quietly. It’s crazy, though, because I love talking and I constantly want to share my thoughts with the world, but then I get all anxious and I don’t. I also have this ginormous personality and sometimes I feel like I’m just too damn much. I play small because I’m scared of taking up too much space. I need to stop doing that.
  5. Get back in the motherfucking game: And by the game, I mean thotting. You didn’t think I forgot about my initial theme, did you? I’m in this weird phase of life where I’m trying to make all of these big changes. I spent last year living like a nun, with the exception of a brief interlude into sugaring. I’m over all of that, and now I’m ready to explore. I know that eventually I want L-O-V-E, but I’m (a) planning to blow this popsicle stand – aka SF – in two years and (b) trying to figure out how to get the hell out of tech. Given all of that, I think the L-word needs to put on the back burner. I don’t need to put my vagina on the back burner, though – heyyyyoooo! I have some fun little experiments and excursions that I’m putting into place as we speak in the hopes of a memorable year.

Yay for 2018!

ps – since I wrote this at like 4am, I don’t even know if it’s coherent.

thick skin + an elastic heart.

I’ve got thick skin and an elastic heart

But your blade, it might be too sharp

I’m like a rubber band, until you pull too hard

I may snap, and I move fast…

–  Sia, “Elastic Heart”

It’s 6:30am, and I’ve been up for about an hour just thinking… about life, about love, about the new year, about the person I want to be. I woke up with a strange desire to hear this song, but I never really paid attention to the lyrics until this morning. It reminds me of a conversation I had with Vest last night, about who I am and how I deal with the chaos of my own emotions. I likened myself to a rubber band. I can take a lot of bullshit. I am a strong person, and I put up with a lot. But then I have these moments when something sets me off, and it’s like SNAP. It’s scary sometimes, how I can go from being completely placid and composed to just wildin out in a matter of moments.

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2018 has been a strange year thus far. It doesn’t really feel like a new year. I’m still stuck in the energy of 2017. I have this lethargy, this shadow hanging over my head that prevents me from being fully present and engaged in my life. I’m not sure why – normally, I LOVE the New Year. It’s such brilliant energy, and this year coincided with a Full Moon, the time where we are encouraged to let go and release that which does not serve us. Yet, I felt the same way I have for most of 2017.

I had a wonderful New Years holiday. I went to Miami, a city that I unexpectedly fell in love with. I had no expectations whatsoever, and yet I felt so warm and at home there. It was so colorful and bright, and I finally felt at peace. I got to spend time with two of my very best friends, a rarity due to geography, and for that I am extremely grateful. To be with the people who truly understand you is a blessing.

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As I reflect on why I haven’t plunged into the New Year energy with the rest of the masses, I really do think it’s all about fear. There is work in my life that I know I have to do. I know exactly what that work is, and I just don’t want to do it. As I mentioned a scant two paragraphs ago, that Full Moon energy is all about releasing that which does not serve us. I need to release all the things in my life that don’t serve me and that is a terrifying thing to do. Letting go isn’t easy for me. In fact, in most cases something happens and SNAP. All of a sudden, I’m releasing things and people in the most violent of ways. I haven’t really spoken much here about how I quit my post-Google job, but to give you the short version… I got forwarded an email about my performance that I thought was bullshit and I was just like FUCK THIS and I left. It was this moment where something snapped inside of me and I was like – you know what? Let’s just burn all of this shit to the ground because why the fuck not. Or the time when I ended my longest friendship through a series of truly nasty emails in which I detailed every pent up emotion I had over 20 years of friendship. It’s very rare for things to end with me in a calculated, premeditated way. It’s either avoidance or high drama.

I need to blow up my life. I know I do. I just want to do it in a way that feels mature and well thought out. I can’t be afraid to get rid of the things that are not enhancing and enriching my life. I can’t feel bad about it, and I can’t let people make me feel bad for making choices that are best for me. If it’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that no one is going to love and support you like you love and support yourself. It is not selfish or cruel to take the time and space you need to do you. You can’t live for other people, and you can’t have people around you that don’t want to see you win. I am single, childless, and unattached. I’m never going to be this free ever again, and this is the time where I get to make the decisions on what and who belongs in my life and how I want to live. I’m not living in the right city. I’m not working in the right industry. My life and apartment are full of clutter. I’m not taking care of my body the way I should be. I still allow people to talk to me any old way and shit on the things I care about. I still allow men to get away with entirely too much. These are the facts. These are the things that need to change. This is the work I need to do. This is the work I will do.

I may be off to a slow start, but 2018… I’m coming for you. Onward, upward, forward always.

Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.

Herman Hesse

 

home.

Back from my first visit to my parents’ new home. They moved to a suburb of Memphis earlier in the year and this was my first trip out.  I did absolutely no exploring of the city or even the town my parents live in, so I have nothing of any value to say about the area.  Most of my time was spent working, since I have a five-city global event kicking off on Tuesday. Beyond that, I watched a lot of TV, hung out with my parents, and slept as much as possible. It was actually very relaxing, but stirred up all of these feelings about the idea of home.

One thing that struck me the most about being in the new house is how thoroughly and completely it feels like a home. It made me feel how temporary my own existence is. Nothing is settled. I’ve lived in the same apartment for seven years, and yet I feel more at home in my parents’ home – a place where I spent less than a week. I know that part of that is just the fact that my mother is a typical Cancer and is excellent as making a space feel full of warmth and love. I’ve never been that person, but I’ve also never wanted to be that person until now. It’s not that I’m longing for home ownership or anything like that – it’s more that I don’t feel like the space I’m occupying currently is permanent, and I’m starting to resent that.

Everything from the city I live in to the line of work I do to how I currently spend my time – none of it fits the person I am becoming. None of it is part of the person I want to be. It’s hard to recognize that, but it does give me something to work towards. I now know what is missing and what I need to do to fix it. That gives me tremendous hope because, if nothing else, I am a motherfucking hustler and I always get myself to where I need to be. It may take a while, but it’ll happen. I know it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

post-vacation blues.

I feel compelled to write because I’ve been feeling super lethargic and out of it since returning from my retreat in Mexico. I come home every night exhausted by the events of the day, and end up falling asleep at 8:30pm while telling myself “I’m just napping” and forgetting to eat. I need to snap out of it. I just don’t have any energy, and I don’t want to be around people. I hate when I get like this. Generally, I enjoy being productive and social, so I get mad when my brain and body won’t cooperate.

Mexico was interesting, and I’m still processing. I feel like I’m at Stage 1 of a cleanse – you know, the part where you stir up all of the toxins in your body and they are just sitting there waiting to be eliminated. That’s what I feel like right now – everything has been stirred up and I’m waiting to figure out how to get rid of the negativity.

So many things came up for me during the trip. My inability to be vulnerable with people (especially men). My feeling that I’ll never fall in love (by which I mean, my fear that I will never romantically love someone, not that I won’t ever find someone to romantically love me). Adoption shit. Perfectionist shit. How disconnected from my own sexuality I’ve been lately. Past relationships. Rawr. I don’t know how I’m going to begin to process it all, but I guess I need to if I’d like to reenter the world of the living.

Timely reminder that you’re never really done working on your shit. Back to work I go 🙂

32.

I am officially 32! My birthday was this past Friday, and I can honestly say that it was everything I wanted it to be – lowkey, with lots of relaxation, good food, and time spent with close friends. This is probably one of the biggest years of change in my entire life. Let’s review:

  • I quit yet another job, again with nothing lined up. Apparently this is my signature move, but it’s worked out fairly well for me so far. After leaving a job I hated with every fiber of my being, I took a new job that turned out to be equally shitty, but in completely new and different ways. I knew I needed to get out before I had a complete breakdown, so again, I quit, not knowing what was in store for me. But luckily…
  • I started a brand new job in April that I absolutely love, and I am no longer gripped by crippling anxiety and/or blazing anger. The thing about having two shitty jobs in a row is that it starts to make you doubt yourself. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve always had doubts about certain aspects of my being. I don’t think anyone is immune to that. The one thing I always felt secure in was my job. I survived almost 9 years at Google, and I excelled there. I switched careers there and learned skills that I probably couldn’t have gotten anywhere else, especially as a young woman in her 20s. So when I left and all of a sudden things fell apart at two separate companies, I started to really think that I just sucked at my job. Enter my new role. I’m one of two people building out an events capability at one of the largest companies in the world, and I am kicking ass. I love the work – it’s challenging and rewarding and different. My clients love me. My manager loves me. But best of all, they all respect me and they value what I bring to the table and I haven’t felt that way since I left the Googs. It’s incredibly life-affirming to feel solid about the work you do and the people you do it for and with. I’m working on things I never thought I’d get the chance to – including a 5 city global tour, as well as managing events and event strategy for our trucking arm. I am planning events for truckers. What is my life?! Anyhow, it took two long years to find work happiness, but I did it and it’s grand and I’m happy.
  • I went to Morocco and came back a changed woman. The Gala Darling Morocco retreat changed my life for real. I signed up mostly because I wanted to take pretty pictures in Morocco, but I left that trip with a deeper sense of self, a new attitude, and a better understanding of the path ahead. The work we did there and the connections I made were so incredibly special to me. So much so that I’m going back for Round 2 in a few weeks in Tulum.
  • I started to embrace my blackness in new and exciting ways. My identity has always been a bit of a struggle for me, in ways too numerous to recount here. Being adopted. Having a parent of a different race. Having siblings of different races. Going to an Ivy League school. Working in white AF tech. Living in white AF San Francisco. Things have shifted for me, and I feel so much blacker now and I fucking love that. I struggle with my hair on the daily, but I refuse to bend to white standards of beauty. Black people are finally back on television in a real way. Between Atlanta, Insecure, black-ish, Queen Sugar, and that amazing Thanksgiving episode of Master of None, I’m finally seeing myself reflected in the media that I consume. Also black podcasts like The Read and Another Round and The Thick give me life on a weekly basis. I’ve been getting more and more involved with the black employee resource group at my company and really just feeling the love, acceptance, and welcome of the black community. It feels like coming home.
  • I started wander(ing.).. Some big things are happening in my life that are bringing me closer to being the woman I want to be, doing the work I want to do. Most of you know that travel is my life. I can’t stay in one place and vacation is truly the only thing I live for. Luckily, I’ve found another badass WOC who shares the same drive, hustle, and love for luxury travel as I do, and we’ve got something epic cooking up. More to come, but in the meantime, catch us on Insta: @thewandergroup

This year was a blessing. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for 32!

lack of passion is fatal.

I am finally waking up. These past four months have felt like I’m emerging from a deep slumber, one that’s lasted so long that I don’t even remember when it began. I feel completely and totally brand new, in ways I would have never expected or even actively desired. It’s like walking around in black and white and all of a sudden stumbling upon a world of color. It’s enchanting, enlightening, and a little alarming, but in the best way.

Passion is everything. It lights up your soul. It makes the sour things sweeter. It makes life feel worth living, even when it isn’t easy. At a Renaissance Faire (yes, I’ve been to a Ren Faire. twice. don’t judge me…), I asked a palm reader to tell me why I have a straight line that cuts all the way across my palm. I have only ever known one other person who has that same line, so it struck me as odd. She told me it meant that I must do everything with passion. That I’m one of those people who is either 100 or 0, but never in-between. I’ve found that to be true about myself. I either am over the moon and all-in, or I literally do not give a fuck. It’s a challenging way to be, but it reminds me that passion is the one thing in this life I cannot live without.

Lately, I’ve just been more invested in my life. I see it everywhere. I see it at work – where I’m giving my opinion, pushing back on things I don’t see value in, and creating projects for myself that I am deeply invested in. I see it in how I am treating my body. I’m working out more, being more mindful about what I eat, and not drinking alcohol. I see it in how I am nourishing my spirit – with meditation, candles, and essential oils. I am out here trying to live my best life and be my best self.

I’m working hard to do only the things that excite me, that light me up, and make me feel like I’m truly alive. I’m guarding my time closely. I’m making myself the priority. I’m focusing on building a future for myself that will leave me happy, healthy, supported, and content. I’m stepping into the power that I know I possess. It feels fan-fucking-tastic.

the tyranny of shyness.

I am shy as fuck. It’s kind of a problem. Most people don’t believe that I’m shy because I’m not a total shit show (at least not on the outside), but that’s because I’ve done A LOT of work on myself over the years. Self-improvement is real, y’all. Let me paint a picture for you. Imagine little TV, aged 4. My parents would take me to a variety of Long Island’s finest chain restaurants – Friendly’s was my favorite. Each and every time we went to a restaurant, I would start to whimper and whine,  “Maaaa, we have to move – that man is looking at me. HE’S LOOKING AT ME!” At which point, I would weep openly, ensuring that if that man was not looking at me initially, he certainly was at that moment. Then, we would have to move to a place where I felt that no eyes were on me. This often happened repeatedly over the course of a meal. It’s a miracle my parents didn’t send me back, but I guess after four years, you’re kind of stuck with the kid you adopted.

Black girls are not known for being shy. We’re supposed to be these loud powerhouses, cycling through like a tornado, destroying all the peace and quiet in our wake. That is bullshit. Complete and total bullshit. Some of us are incredibly, awkwardly shy. Some of us are so shy that it is physically painful at times, the shyness wrapping itself around our bodies and cutting off all circulation. It’s not an easy way to live.

Obviously, I don’t scream in terror anymore when I’m at restaurants, but remnants of my shyness are still with me. I get extremely nervous before every social interaction I have. I have to psych myself up before meeting people. Sometimes I have trouble meeting people’s eyes, even people I’ve known forever. I sometimes get so quiet around new people that it appears that I don’t possess the power of speech. I’m pretty sure when I first moved to the Google New York office my team thought I was mute.  Being shy also means I blow the littlest social interactions way out of proportion. My current Shy Girl hell is coming to work every morning. I used to say hello to the security guards every day, but then one day they ignored me or were busy or something so I didn’t greet them. I continued not greeting them and now I’m super self-conscious about it. Do they think I’m a bitch now that I don’t say anything? But I feel like it would be really weird to start saying hi again after not saying hi for so long. Do they notice that I stopped saying it? Do they think I’m holding a grudge against them? IS THERE A BACK ENTRANCE TO THIS BUILDING SO I CAN AVOID HAVING THIS INSANE DIALOGUE WITH MYSELF FOR THE REST OF MY TIME IN THIS BUILDING?

I don’t know where my shyness comes from. Obviously some part of it is innate, but it feels so debilitating sometimes that I wonder if there are other forces at work. I definitely use it to protect myself. I’m very empathic and I can feel the energy around me very sharply. It’s why I don’t like confrontation – it makes me squirmy. It’s like I can feel other people’s anger burning me up on the inside. As such, I’m protective of my time and space, and by being shy, I can be an observer. I don’t have to get in the middle of anyone’s shit. I don’t want to be like this, though. It’s not normal to have a five minute conversation with yourself over walking into your office building. So I struggle and I push through it. I force myself to smile when I really want to run away screaming to hide in a corner. I put myself in uncomfortable situations (like going to foreign countries with people I don’t know), and I just fight like hell to not be the awkward, bumbling mess of a human being I am inside. It’s hard and sometimes it’s an absolute shit show, but if I didn’t do it, I’d basically be The Unabomber without the mass murder. Apparently, human interaction is a thing one has to do to be alive in the world, so I’m just taking it one day at a time.