sunday night.

After listening to “the weekend” more than enough times, I felt compelled to revisit the hour (see: summer) I dubbed “not my finest.” It was a Saturday night, it was 2am, and the Monday-Friday had been contracted for overtime. My pride wouldn’t allow me to shoot the text, but my mind wouldn’t rest.

 

my stomach hurts. 


okay, "hurt" might be the wrong word but it feels unsettled.

"we told you so."

"I mean..."

"well...."

when you've been smart your entire life it's hard watching yourself morph into the stupid friend.

it's so hard to see each misstep & be unable to step in,

to change how you feel, 

to will your emotions into extinction.

"I'm special too"

is what you tell yourself to feel better,

you pretend to forget that moral victories only exist amongst minor league coaches,

but you have good intentions, right?

so there's no way you could be one of the others. 

you say what you need to escape reality's harshness & so far,

you've been quite successful.

"I'm out with my girl."


& no, that's not you.

& yes, your FaceTime will go ignored.

& yes, he will pull up to your job.

& yes, he will find a way to make you laugh because that is what he does.


until today you forgot she even existed,

you forgot about what she could be,

you forgot about wondering what she was like.

it's easier that way, you know,

it helps with the guilt.

today that is not the case.

today you are not merely two star-crossed lovers.

today he is in love.

today the scales of everything & nothing have tipped like never before.

today you did not win.

today you are reminded.

talking [fear.]

I’m not too prideful to admit that I late bloomed on the magnificence that is Kendrick Duckworth. Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe was cool, but the real admiration began when I finally got over his penchant for voice adjustments long enough to listen to GKMC in its entirety.

The year is 2013 and we begin with two inner city kids leaving home in search of more–in hopes of more. Sharifa, a wide-eyed 21yr old with $600 made greeting tourists in the storefront of a now defunct British brand and Kendrick, a 25 yr old rap prodigy embarking on a historical emergence straight outta Compton. Where our aspirations differed, we made up in parallels discovered on a 4 hour long bus ride to D.C. Though he was 4 years my senior, I completely identified with being the friend who everybody expected to make it. The little cousin who wasn’t directly involved with gang activity, but was close enough to know when it was time to exit the function. The flower growing in the dark room. From watching our friends die in cold blood, to traveling to rivals hoods for teenage love; I, often tragically, related to every bit of his accounts. What began as a simple “let me give this a listen” quickly morphed into a “this is all I can listen to” and the over-consumption of Kendrick’s truth became the soundtrack to those 2 hour bus-train-bus commutes from Dumfries, VA to D.C.

Fast forward to March 2015 and arrival of TPAB. Kendrick is rising to superstardom and Sharifa is *still* struggling to recover from the ashes of 2014’s failed attempt at everything. My time spent in D.C. had crippled me mentally more than physically and forced a reconsideration of every ideology I’d ever subscribed to. I remember hearing the first single and grimacing at how much I could not relate to the idea of loving one’s self. Hating“i” because I was living “u” and K.Dot was right; attempting to love me did not fall short of its complications. I found myself stripped by the gift & curse that is self deprecation masked as awareness.  It was no easy feat, however, it marked the beginning of reconstruction…or an involuntary acceptance of what was, what is no longer, and what will never be again.  Even when I failed to see it, the plights of both Kendrick and myself very much mirrored each other. I was fucked up then, but I would be alright.

We zoom past untitled unmastered with the same speed Kendrick should have, bringing us to April 2017. The release of DAMN., much like its predecessors, marking the beginning of yet another transformative time in our lives. Kendrick and Sharifa, again, growing and developing new vulnerabilities to be shared. With the former detailing his worry of loss in every capacity on a testimony titled “FEAR.” and the latter growing tired of pretending. I was no longer wide-eyed and time had completely absolved me of innocence. Like Kung Fu Kenny at 25, I was beginning to get my first taste of success and with it came mo’ unfamiliar problems. Tears no longer fell as a result of strategizing how to make $20 stretch for a week and a half, they came in plush conference rooms with handsome biweekly deposits. We meet again, this time much older and wiser. Becoming giants in our own right and simultaneously faced with a poignant set of questions: is it wickedness, is it weakness?

You decide. 

bravery. (n.) the quality or state of having or showing mental or moral strength to face danger, fear, or difficulty.

Being referred to as brave or any variation of the term has always made me uncomfortable. “Strong” being another one. With each serving as labels that, ironically, represent the most glaring of fallacies in my being. Exalting the details deemed safe enough to share and completely ignoring what may lie beneath when in reality, the underlying demons are very real and very much too heavy to reveal to the masses. Kendrick and I cross paths again, this time as accomplished adults listing the insecurities that threaten sanity as much as they fuel excellence.

I’m talking fear.”

Fear of an inability to sustain beyond the novelty.

Fear of being confined to a lane that may not support one’s growth. 

“Fear of losing creativity.

Fear of succumbing. 

Fear of settling in hopes of escaping it all.  

Not even I, a girl crazy enough to openly discuss her ongoing issues with mental illness, possess enough strength to overcome the daymare that is fear. A truth that no amount of newfound success could protect me from.  From the walls quiet of my Harlem apartment I am now faced with a new question, “how many accolades do I need to block denial?”

The last few weeks in particular have revealed how often my existence represents the actualization of another’s fears. A conclusion that has left me equally flustered and frustrated. My refusal to be docile and accepting of whatever is offered somehow prompted the usage of “ghetto/edgy” in an unsolicited list of insulting adjectives dubbed as “pros.” The decision to reject settling for safe confused for a delight in “being a hoe” to be marveled and revered as a feminist icon. My preference of African American Vernacular English over Standard American English, making my work much like Beyonce’s LEMONADE. Though impactful, it would never garner the endorsement of the Academy.

To be fair, all of the above referenced instances were delivered as compliments; compliments from people who have no idea that my worst fear is being typecast in a world governed by false dichotomies.

Heavy is the head that can wear both crowns. 

breaking up is hard to do.

You used to share everything. There wasn’t a crevice of her life you weren’t privy to, and the same went for yours. She cheered at your graduation, you at her probate. Her tears soaked your graphic tshirt when the two of you first realized that sometimes love just wasn’t enough. Your crazy thoughts filled her room while you ranted about bucking the system and living life off the grid as a renegade writer, only emerging from the abyss to do speeches on feminism and sexuality. She thought you’d better serve as a teacher, but gave a listening ear to your extravagant plans anyway.

Birthdays were national holidays and you made sure that no one forgot that it meant full participation. You entertaining her other friends that you didn’t actually care for. Her entertaining the alternative music you  love, that she thought sounded like a bunch of tapping on a keyboard.

One day it changed. The once welcomed sarcasm became annoying. The immaturity that drove statements like, “I saw your friend today!” in reference to a person who has never been and will never be a friend, now repulsive. One day your jokes stopped funny and the echos of co-dependency became suffocating. One day we had to let it go. And just pretended like it didn’t exist.

We don’t mourn the end of friendships the way we do intimate relationships. There is no expected period of sadness. No circle of sisters sending “thinking of you” texts and reminding you of how beautiful you are despite what it is you may be feeling. Like outdated Instagram pictures that no longer fit the aesthetic; we remove all traces of these memories and become complete strangers.

In the absence of a judge or jury we approach the dissolution of friendships with complete finality. There is no room for error or growth. We grew into big girls who still managed to treat our girls and the emotions they invoke, like little girls.

Why?

For the same reasons why we will accept the phone calls of a man who has proven to be nothing but detrimental. The same reasons why deadbeat mothers are approached with the fervor generally reserved for rapists and pedophiles. We as women are inherently more harsh on each other than we will ever be on men. I expect you to know better, thus expecting you to do better.

But what if you can’t do better? What if you did the best you could for exactly who you are and deserved to be loved anyway? What if there is a part of you that I was not made aware of, silently impacting your every move? What if you were just navigating life like the rest of us and prone to do human things like make mistakes? What if we didn’t have to end in confusion + a need to go out swinging, even if we were both loud and wrong?

Text your girl. I’m sure she misses you too.

The ABCs of Situationships

(A)www look at this text I just got.

Image result for black girl texting gif

From “(b)ae” to “blocked.” 

“(C)an I watch his snap from your phone?”

Image result for black man laughing gif

(D)elete my number.

Image result for russell westbrook gifs

When you realize he/she is for (e)verybody.

Image result for new york gif

(F)OH.

(G)irlllllll. I just sent the screenshot.

Image result for black girl texting gif

“(H)ow did you end up in a relationship so fast? We just saw each other last week!”

Image result for bad girls club gif

(I)’m changing my netflix password.

(J)ust text me when you’re outside.

Image result for antm gif

(k.)

Image result for lil wayne funny gif

Sometimes you just gotta accept the (L.)

When your (M)CM says things like, “what’s understood aint gotta be explained.”

Image result for kim k gif

If my (n)udes get leaked, I’m taking every penny in that student checking account.

Image result for joanne the scammer gif

W(o)wwwwwwwww.

At least you didn’t end up (p)regnant. #silverlining

Image result for girl crying antm gif

If his/her name starts with a “(Q)”, you probably should’ve known better.

The best (r)evenge is actually showing up to the function looking like a snack.

Image result for two can play that game gif

No, your parents are not your roommates. (S)top saying that. 

Image result for love and hip hop gifs

“A bond is better than a (t)itle.”

Image result for white lady confused gif

Don’t ever let anyone send you home in an (U)ber.

The good, the bad, the (v)olunteered lie.

Image result for lavar ball gif

Oh, look! Another unsolicited “(W)YD” text.

When the  double back proves why e(x)es are exes.

Image result for joseline hernandez gif

Wait. I don’t even like (y)ou that much.

“I miss (Z)addy.”

Image result for kevin hart crying gif

a Black girl.

 Growing up a Black girl meant I was born with more swag than you could ever imagine and I hate how “yal” made that word popular. It means that they are called Bantu knots and not “space buns.” It means that they are Timbs, and not “field boots” as seen on Gigi Hadid.

Before we collectively lost our length to Just For Me, growing up a Black girl meant making statements in the form of colorful beads and barrettes and making sure not to come home missing any. See also: begging for ponytails so I could show everybody how long my hair is getting.

Spending hot summer nights praying that the street lights would be considerate of how intense the double dutch tournament was getting and offer us just a teeny bit more time. Turning fire hydrants into sprinklers and hoping that nobody told because our mommas didn’t feel like taking us to the city pool. It included cousins who felt more like sisters because we didn’t even know what first and second cousins meant until some white people told us. Second what? No. We all family. You fight, I fight, or we gotta deal with trouble once we get back to the house.

Again, cooler than you.

Growing up a Black girl meant that I knew all the dances and if I couldn’t quite get the 8-count together (I never could), we had mandatory practice in someone’s bedroom before the next skating rink party. Loving Chris Brown until we grew up and realized he was problematic (once we learned the definition) and feeling guilty when you hear “Poppin” and want to say say say what yo name is. Cuz, yeah, It fits you girl.

It meant shawalawoop woop hey hey. And even though I was never the one with the big bootyyyy, I was “Rif” and yeah, that’s me. It meant wanting a family like the Huxtables before we found out the doc only prescribed quaaludes. Wanting to go to Hillman so you could find your Dwayne Wayne. It meant being hype when Proud Family dropped because we finally had someone who looked like us and also knew the importance of having Destiny’s Child on the track.

ICYMI – Still cooler than you.

Growing up a Black girl meant my skin color has an identity completely independent of my own, with my complexion to serve as many things. An act of protest. A catalyst of fear. The visualization of an eye roll when all I did was say “excuse me.” Getting called “Teresa” when I made a point to use “F as in Frank” whilst spelling my name to avoid any confusion.

It meant being asked “what are you mixed with” as if that is some confirmation of beauty. Growing up and understanding why your momma needed My Life to get through Saturday mornings. Using your groupchat as a safe space to vent about how your coworker is one small microaggression away from getting cussed out. Yes, I do like Migos and no their best song isn’t “Black Beatles”, Karen.

Growing up a Black girl meant membership to an elite group of superwomen. A bond. A sisterhood. It means creating art that other little Black girls can be proud of. It means sharing art so that other former Black girls can smile.

 Thank you, Toi.

wrong me.

“I’m trying to find my peace. I was made to believe there’s something wrong with me.”

I thought something was wrong with me.

I thought my composition occurred on a night that my Creator had too much to drink and started to get sloppy. My quirkiness reduced to mere happenstance; I was convinced that no one could have set out to accomplish this as a final result.

I had this reinforced when an entire half of me decided that I was too much. I think the kids call these daddy issues but for me they simply affirmed what I had always known. There was something. There had to be. There was something wrong and the logical answer was me.

There was something wrong with me.

Something wrong.

Something me.

He reminded me of this when the love I was so afraid to share proved to not be enough. I walked in fear my entire life, only to have said fear actualized. I ruined the better parts of myself in search of the source. I mourned our beloved fallacy like a loved one gone too soon.

Again, it is me.

I reminded myself when I nearly lost her and had no one to point a finger at.

This time something was actually wrong and it was actually me. I lost it, me, her, and everything in between.

I was right this entire time and I knew it. It is me.

It happened again.

The words just stopped and for an unspecified amount of time there was nothing. No thoughts. No flowery language to to detail common events. No sudden bursts of words; Absolutely nothing.

I chastised myself for buying the dream sold and replaced my enthusiasm with cynicism and fear because I truly believed that I couldn’t write anymore.

& for an additional unspecified amount of time I tried.

Revisited places unnecessarily in hopes that memory would invoke some stream of thoughts,  I stunted the healing time of old wounds in search of something that would probably never belong to me again.

I frantically consulted with former versions of myself and still…there was nothing.

I always missed the message.

The message of strength in spite of. Of resilience. Of leaning not on thine own understanding because thy don’t know shit. Of trusting even in times of confusion because that is truly when you need it most. Of living because you were not supposed to be afforded more time so your existence is proof of both love and God. Of being free. Of being right.

-Rif

 

on Beyoncé and Black women.

In 2016 everything went wrong. Correction, nearly everything went wrong. Everyone died, the United States elected an orange as President (a death of sorts), and then more people died. It was literally the worst of times. However, amid that horror came the domination of Black femininity in music.

Image result for lemonade video gif

The movement, spearheaded by Rihanna’s ANTi, gave insight into the complexities of Black womanhood and offered several incredibly different accounts of  all that it encompasses. Less than two weeks after the highly anticipated release of Rih Rih’s 8th album (and arguably her best body of work), Beyoncé nearly ended the world as we know it with the surprise drop of the Formation video. Her most obviously Black work at that time, Formation was an ode to the beauty of New Orleans and the importance of listening when the South has something to say. Our beloved Texas ‘bama proudly boasted about the magic that occurs when you mix that Negro with that Creole and Black girls across the world rejoiced. Then, almost immediately after, she took BGM to a level that we foolishly thought could not be topped and graciously allowed the NFL to host a game during her performance. A performance that doubled as a tribute to the Black Panthers and a “fuck you” to anyone who ever made the mistake of saying that Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter, daughter of Celestine Ann Beyincé, had “transcended” race.

Image result for beyonce superbowl 2016 gif

Before we could gather the pieces of our existence, the Great One announced the Formation World Tour and began hinting at an upcoming album. Then on April 23rd, 2016, our Creole goddess demanded that we all get in formation (aka add HBO to our cable packages) and bestowed upon us her most beautifully constructed artwork to date–LEMONADE. Lemonade was many things. It was picture perfect Beyoncé begging the men who had inflicted the most pain for mercy. It was her channeling Black deities whilst donning Roberto Cavalli and joyously swinging a louisville slugger. It was her, again, giving a finger to those who ever assumed that they could limit her artistry by playing with genres in a way that only a child of Destiny, first of her name, of the House of Deréon could. I could spend all day talking about Lemonade and the magnitude of its power–but that’s not why we’re here. I also cannot address anything about 2016 without acknowledging (see also: appreciating) the seat at the table kindly offered to the world by the baby of the Knowles clan–the incomparable Solange. I don’t think we bring enough attention to the bravery required to have even released an album in the same year as a superstar big sister, let alone the caliber of work required to be considered her only rival for the given time. I don’t care what the Grammys said; Black girls showed up, showed out, and showed all what can happen when we are given complete artistic control.

Image result for formation video gif

Before I begin, it is important to note that I joined the Beyhive long before it had a name (or a reputation for wishing death upon those who do not accept Beyoncé as their lord and savior.) I know that I will have to answer for that last sentence on Judgement Day, however, if the Lord is not a Beyoncé stan then maybe heaven isn’t the place for me. Moving on. Over the last year I watched women, specifically Black women, support and consume Beyoncé in a way much differently than ever before. Sure, we all loved Party and maybe even Who Run the World? but never had Beyoncé been regarded as a champion of Black womanhood by the masses. With the release of Lemonade came also the introduction to the previously unseen version of the superstar. Beyoncé was no longer a pop princess–she was a Black woman completely aware of her power and the possible blowback. She took a chance on us, and we made sure to “YASSS” for her at every award show, performance, club, and everywhere in between because that is simply what we do.

Image result for black girl clapping gif

A few weeks ago I sat at my desk having a forgettable day when my coworker got up and yelled, “EVERYONE, THIS IS IMPORTANT. BEYONCÉ IS PREGNANT WITH TWINS.” Immediately after every single message thread in my text inbox exploded with her maternity photos and social media completely shut down. Regardless of what was happening in our respective lives, we all stopped and felt a genuine sense of happiness for a woman who publicly detailed her struggles with fertility. A woman we will probably never meet, but will praise God for her blessings anyway. Again, this is simply what we do.

Image result for adele grammys 2017 gif

Image result for adele grammys 2017 gif

When accepting her award for AOTY last night, a teary eyed Adele thanked Beyoncé for her contributions and explained why she simply could not accept it (plot twist: she still did.). The most important part of this speech was the singer praising Beyoncé for her work and how she made her Black friends feel. While I’m sure that soundbite will be taken out of context and discussed for days, it resonated with me. As a Black woman and “Black friend” to many–I know how Lemonade made me feel. I’ve prayed for the undeserving to catch me. I’ve taken my frustration with infidelity out on cars. I’ve put my finger up to situations that no longer suited my needs. I’ve had to remind people of my power and the woes to come from having me fucked up. I’ve accepted the ending of broken relationships and experienced the vulnerability of forgiveness. Lemonade wasn’t just a video; it was my life. It was Beyoncé telling me and every single other Black girl that she saw us and still does…and we thank her for it immensely.

Image result for beyonce houston gif

Wake up, Mr. West.

“so is he in the ER or is he in the looney bin?”

After a series of rants and cancelled shows, news of Kanye West being admitted to the UCLA Medical Center broke the morning of November 22nd. I paid close attention to the commentary regarding the hospitalization of Yeezus from peers and was a bit disheartened by the abundance of “he’s not mentally ill, he’s an asshole” comments. Immediately after, an executive decision to completely unplug from social media and gather my thoughts was made. I checked myself and avoided arguments sparked by displaced anger because in all fairness, they were right. Mental illness doesn’t excuse trash behavior. Being an asshole is being an asshole is being an asshole. It’s inexcusable and annoying. Why? Well, because it is consciously choosing to do so with a complete disregard for those around you which, contrary to popular belief, is the complete opposite of dealing with mental illness. In fact, the only choice mental illness involves (in most cases) is attempting to live a normal life in spite of your diagnosis. It means smiling when you don’t “feel it” to avoid being called angry. It means trying to focus while nearing defeat in the civil war raging in your head. It also means being ostracized for a set of issues that, if given the choice, you’d package up and express ship back to wherever they came from.

ICYMI: Mental illness is inconvenient as hell.

Early, unconfirmed reports stated that Mr. West’s admittance was the result of a 5150 hold. For those unfamiliar, a 5150 is an involuntary psychiatric hold which, “authorizes a qualified officer or clinician to involuntarily confine a person suspected to have a mental disorder that makes them a danger to themselves, a danger to others, and/or gravely disabled. A qualified officer can request the confinement after signing a written declaration stating the psychiatric diagnosis that the diagnosing medical professional believes to be the cause or reason why they believe the patient to be a danger to themselves or others or the psychiatric disorder that has rendered the patient incapable of making their own medical treatment decisions.”

If you’re wondering how this works in real life, I’ll tell you. A doctor says that you are unfit to make your own decisions and you have the option of either a) signing yourself over to the State for a period of supervision or b) being forcefully committed (and possibly medicated) to a mental institution for an unspecified amount of time. You are then assigned a social worker who will ask whether or not you’ve had thoughts about harming yourself or others. You are expected to answer truthfully but it does not matter because you will have this same conversation several times over the course of said unspecified amount of days until you have proven to both social workers and physicians that you are fit. There will be a schedule of therapy sessions that you are not “forced” to attend but should because it shows progress and a willingness to receive help. There is also a strict eating schedule that you are somewhat forced to follow because failure to do so is a sign of attempted suicide by starvation and can result in an even longer stay. It is not glamorous. The utensils are all plastic. Pens and scissors aren’t really a thing. You do not have access to cords or anything that can be used as an instrument to harm yourself or anyone around you. You belong to the State and insubordination can come with harsh consequences. Like I said, it is not glamorous and though common, it’s something most tend to keep buried in their closet with all the other skeletons.

But that is not exactly an option when you’re Kanye West, is it?

One would hope that the confidentiality provided to patients by way of HIPAA is afforded to celebrities but much like how shit goes down when there’s a billion dollars on the elevator, very little can be kept from scrutiny of the public. While mental illness is no stranger to this, I can’t help but wonder if the response is much different when it comes from likely and likable sources. Take the contrast in responses to Kid Cudi and Kehlani for example. Last month the Man on the Moon’s open letter to his fans about going to rehab was welcomed with open arms and think pieces about fragile Black masculinity as it relates to mental health awareness. Cudi was publicly prayed for and comforted by fans and industry figures alike. Seven months earlier, however, the young songbird from Oakland was ridiculed and called a “whore” more times than Mary Magdalene for attempting suicide and thanking her ex for saving her life.

Now fast forward to November. The overflow of support for exhibited towards Cudi is replaced with, “he’s just an asshole” and “this is because he decided to marry a Kardashian.” West, who on his song “FML” expressed to the world how crazy he can get when he’s off his Lexapro, is chastised and accused of using mental illness as an excuse. Oh, and for the unfamiliar, Lexapro is an antidepressant used to treat severe depression and anxiety in adults.

Please note that this is in no way a red shiny cape swinging to justify the actions of Mr. West. I’ve criticized his actions about as many times as I’ve listened to “Devil in a New Dress” (which is probably my favorite song ever) on repeat and wanted to slap his face when he suggested that voting for Trump was a good idea. When he’s being an asshole, I acknowledge that because like I said: being an asshole is being an asshole is being asshole. Suffering from an episode sparked by mental illness, however, is not merely being an asshole and shouldn’t be treated as such.

forgiveness looks like…

Kendrick was right, loving u is complicated.

I hated you.

I’ve had to be strong when you weren’t, Get up and be normal when you when couldn’t, Choose life when you didn’t.

I watched you exert so much energy to things, places, and people who would have never reciprocated and didn’t need to because you failed to make it a requirement.

I didn’t think you lived up to the hype.

I, in fact, I thought you were weak.

 

Forgiveness… Forgiveness looks like your smile in candid pictures, you hate your teeth so you’d never in a million years consent to a picture filled with them.

It looks like you getting dressed again, after months of hiding behind the clothes that weren’t the most flattering. It’s the famous vixen curls you do just to sit around the house because you simply never know what may come up.

It’s sharing a story that scares the fuck out of you because now people know you’re not perfect.

It’s learning to love yourself again after you broke her, It’s allowing her to experience love again because she deserves it.

It looks like your mother, the loudest cheerleader in every stand. at every turn. at every misstep.

It’s talking to your father & choosing to hear his side of things, It’s realizing that you actually like him & you two might be the same person.

It’s writing again after being called bitter & redundant, It’s proving them wrong, It’s proving me wrong.

It’s the way I watched you accept hard truths & turn them into laughs for those around you.

It’s choosing happiness this week, even though you didn’t intend to make it to this day. It’s you fighting off the feelings of guilt that usually find home in your head in the days leading up to 11/20.

It’s me looking like a crazy person for having written this letter. It’s me not caring because you needed to hear it.

 

I forgive you, Sharifa, and I hope you forgive me too.

Insecure as Fuck.

As a proud member of Bougie Black Girls of America, I thoroughly enjoy a night filled with a random salmon dish, an Olivia Pope sized glass of Merlot, and Netflix/HBO Go programming. This is when I’m at my best. Laptop in its rightful place, edges neatly laid underneath my scarf, and an inbox void of nonsense. Zen.

Also like many others, the news of Issa Rae’s Insecure premiering on HBO last month was like music to my ears. I LOVE Sex and the City but let’s be real, my problems span far beyond living in a “midtown” apartment (which was actually nestled in the West Village) and blowing $2,000 on shoes instead of rent. Carrie and crew were awesome, but they hardly represented my reality. Fast forward to 2012 and the birth of Lena Dunham’s Girls. Like Tyra for Tiffany, I rooted for this show. I completely related to Marnie’s should’ve-been-over-years-ago relationship and justttt when I thought I could look past the obvious lack of diversity in casting (sorry, Donald Glover’s appearance as a republican with an affinity for white women didn’t count), Lena began to open her mouth and spew her problematic, borderline (understatement) racist social commentary. Good news: I was bummed about this around the time the show started to go to shit.

I was introduced to Issa a lot later than the rest of the world, mostly because I’ve never been into webseries or anything of that sort. I bought her book, Adventures of Awkward Black Girl, and stopped halfway in because I do not and have never related to the “I’m not like thoseeee Black girls, I talk different and don’t watch reality tv” variety. Like Mama Chaka, I’d like to believe that I am every Black woman. The kitchen beautician. The bougie one who no longer eats can veggies. The one who got kicked out because she punched someone in the face. To summarize, my incense can turn into a Colt 45 real quick. I was sad when I didn’t immediately love Issa the person, however, I didn’t let it deter me from supporting the show…and I’m really glad it didn’t.

If you haven’t, I encourage you to learn all about Molly, the dangers of broken pussy, and the meaning of “Bare Bears.” I can, at very least, guarantee that you’ll relate to a small part of every episode. In addition to laughs and group chat material, Insecure has made me consider a lot of my personal insecurities and the ways in which I deal with them. Remember when B-Rabbit battled Poppa Doc? That is how I deal with the things I’m not so proud of. Here’s a refresher:

I am white,

I am a fucking bum,

I do live in a trailer with my moms.

Over the years my insecurities have manifested in different ways. As of late, they’ve taken shape in the form of long stares in a full-length mirror and tensing up whenever anxiety begins to rear its ugly head. I’m not proud of these things, but they are mine and as much as I try to pretend like they don’t exist- they completely shape my views of the world and my place in it. The month of November is especially taxing for me, as it usually brings about feelings on where I should be considering the upcoming anniversary of my post-demise. That’s a bit morbid but, context clues. Tugging at my small pudge after having made it through November 2014 may seem a bit trivial to some but hey, this is my truth. Insecure is defined as “not confident or assured; uncertain and anxious” and the way my anxiety is set up, I manage to experience these feelings much faster and more frequently than others. Two plus two sometimes equals six, and if I told you about all the IG snooping I had to do to reach that conclusion, you’d call me a stalker.

I ask more questions than necessary. I tense up when I feel uncomfortable. I feel the need to let people know whenever I feel uncomfortable. I start feeling uncomfortable about whether or not I’ve made them uncomfortable. I try to make sense of words unspoken. Then, I find myself drowning in a puddle of questions and conclusions; all of which I’ve created internally…

…still wondering why this anxious life chose me.

If you are anything like what I’ve described above, give yourself a break. Our insecurities are like sprinkles atop a soft serve ice cream cone in the dead of summer: to some they complete the experience, to others they completely ruin it. I’ve sidestepped my own nervousness to tell you that insecurities are something none of us are exempt from, and to give you a little Issa in the mirrior-esque rap/pep talk of my own:

you gonna be a L or nah?

will you write in hell or nah?

the streets need these posts? yes.

so dust off the keyboard and be the mothafuckin best.