Nobody Likes You When You're 23, but I Don't Really Care.
Sometimes the best place to hide is in yourself.
I turn twenty-three in two days.
Birthdays are a personal new year. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a thousand times over. It is your personal chance for a clean slate (if you don’t look at every new day as a new slate, that is). Thinking back to who I was October 4, 2017 and to who will be on October 4, 2018 is staggering. Daunting even. I look into the mirror and I don’t even recognize who I am anymore and it feels good.
It feels like I went into a deep rabbit hole for years. I went deep down it, and only when I reached the bottom did I realize I had to make a decision on whether or not I wanted to climb back up. On the way down though I lost so many core parts of who I am. I lost touch in what I truly believe in, what is good for me, and in all the screaming I lost my voice as well.
Healing isn’t linear. Everyone says that, but you never realize just how sporadic it is until one minute you feel like you’re on top of the world and the next minute you want the world to run you over. Maybe that’s my cyclothymia talking, but even if it is it’s still valid. There were times where I would take ten steps forward, and then become so sad and disappointed in myself because I would get set back fifteen.
That’s what happened last year, at least.
Walking into twenty-two I was so heavily broken. A friendship that had not served me for months was broken off and it felt like I lost so much more than a friendship. I lost the trust that I have in others. I lost the hope that I have for my social future. I gained a toxic level of paranoia and skepticism surrounding any new person who entered my life, and even around the people who were already there. I was no longer afraid to be alone in any measured way, simply because I felt that I’d rather be alone than go through what it was I was going through all over again.
I was suicidal. A select amount of people know that, but there were many days last fall where I sincerely considered it, yearned for it almost, but I considered myself too chicken to do it.
(Happy I didn’t)
Never in my life had I ever felt so broken, completely at a loss for who I was and what I meant to people.
I disappeared. I deleted my social media networks, or went silent on them. I started only confiding in two to three people, and even then I held back the true things I wanted to say. I withdrew myself from people who to this day love and adore me, but due to their actions and partnerships I felt and feel couldn’t be trusted.
I didn’t want to be seen, and if you know me you know that’s not who I am. I have hair that you can see from a mile away, and I wear bright pink tutus. I’ve never been afraid of attention, but at that point unless I was on stage or doing work, I didn’t want to be seen by quite literally anybody.
I threw myself into my work, determined to move out of St. Petersburg. The whole city reminded me of memories that made me want to die. I stopped going out. I truly closed the door and locked the gates (Taylor Swift reference if you catch it).
I found old friendships that I shouldn’t have lost in the first place, yet remained skeptical of them. I hid in plain sight, giving them as much as me as I could without giving them any of me at all.
My life became working day in and day out again, which was easier for me to deal with compared to the anger, paranoia, and hurt that was inside of me. That is, until old new friendships pulled me out of it.
I slowly started being social again thanks to them. One day, and I don’t know when, I was no longer hiding from them. Then another day I started posting again, regaining my social media presence. Slowly I was coming out of the hole I found myself in, not even realizing how much I was healing.
Then I moved, but not to where I wanted to go. Instead, to where I needed to go.
I got a job that I actually really enjoy. I have a roommate who is everything I need in a roommate and who makes an amazing friend. I’m working out. I’m creating. I’m getting so much closer to where I want to be and for once it feels like I really do have faith and trust in the process no matter how depressed I still may be.
Everything that I mentioned happened in the span of a year. I didn’t notice the small growth day to day. In fact, some days it felt like I did the opposite and that I had regressed. Even now, I’m not completely healed and that’s okay. I don’t think I ever will be.
I’m not as public as I once was. I still hide in plain sight from a lot of people. There are some people who I silently walked away from who I’m not ready to walk back to. There are days I’m still so angry and frustrated and days where the betrayal feels like acid in my veins and all I want to do is scream out in agony.
At the same time, there are days where I’m so consumed in the love that I have for who I am now that I don’t really think about what happened. I feel free, if even for a moment. Sometimes it’s two moments, and lately it’s been more.
I don’t think I can articulate in a blog post how much I’ve grown this year.
Last year, it felt like power had been taken from me. I felt like I had to hide to save myself.
Now, there’s power in hiding. There’s power in not showing your full hand. There’s power in waiting for what I know to happen. Keep playing checkers, I’ve been playing chess.
That’s a lie. I actually have no idea how chess works. You get the point though.
The mask that I wear now I wear for fun. When I first turned twenty-two I wore it for survival. Now I wear it because I want to, and that in itself is fun. Even with the mask on, there are certain things I won’t disguise ever again.
I am emotional. I am talkative. I am loud. I stand out. I act out. I cry. I am depressed. I am bipolar. I am queer. I am black. Fuck cops and the establishment they’re apart of.
Fuck people who choose to stand safe on the middle ground instead of getting dirty with those in the mud who have been hurt. Fuck would be friends who don’t give a damn about what is best for you and then they go online gloating about how good of a person they are. Fuck those who constantly abuse and step over black women. Fuck them all. I will say it loud and clearly and I don’t care if I shock you. I don’t care if you feel so appalled at my words that you don’t want to work for me. I won’t apologize.
Those qualities and more are what makes me strong and what makes me who I am. They don’t make me high maintenance. They don’t make me extra. They don’t make me tiresome or a burden. They make me, me.
I used to be afraid of losing people, but now I welcome you to walk away. Fire runs through my veins, and if you’re afraid of the flames you don’t need to be near me.
Here’s to twenty-three-- a year where I find extravagance in the mundane, the magic in the ordinary, and where I find ways to accept who I am in the moment, every moment, of every day.
I’m proud of who I am, the voice I’ve cultivated, the career gains I’ve made this year, and I’m not going to compromise those things, my energy, or my self love for anyone. If I do, then I will forgive myself because I’m human and I deserve the same forgiveness I’ve given others.