Tag Archives: poetry

Lesson #340: These are my confessions.


I’m not Usher.

And I really don’t know how to say any of this today,

but I’m going to try.

I am not perfect.

I don’t know the last time I said this and actually meant it—really, really meant it.

And it feels so good to say right now; to really own it.

I am not perfect.

I’m not talking about my appearance: the pimple on the bottom right of chin, or my lanky legs, or my short torso. I’m not talking about the fact that I’m clumsy, or that I suck at math, or that didn’t floss today (or yesterday), or that I just ate an entire frozen pizza for dinner. I’m not even talking about my regrets or mistakes.

I’m talking about the things that are actually hard to talk about.

The kind of imperfections that I bury deep within myself and choose to overlook, in hopes that one day, they might just disappear.

These are the kind of flaws that I don’t want to admit to—because then it means they’re really true.

And it means I have to face them.

But here’s the truth today.

I am not good at not getting what I want, or what I think I deserve.

And I hate it.

I’m not spoiled. I’m not “privileged.” I would never cry because “Daddy didn’t get me a Mercedes Benz,” or the “new iPhone 6.” I don’t get upset when everyone chooses here instead of where I wanted to go.

I’m not a brat. I don’t have melt-downs. I don’t start screaming, or yelling, or throwing things.

But in the most mundane way possible, I internally just don’t process it well when I am determined to get something, or when I work hard for something, or when I envision something—and I don’t get it.

Yesterday was a perfect example.

But people would never know, because I rarely ever show it or express it.

Determination is good, but it’s also my downfall.

What makes my imperfection ten times worse is that I’m very hard on myself—to the point that when I say or do something wrong or stupid—I beat myself up about it way longer than the average person should. I repeat it to myself over and over; I replay it a million times in my head. I know that everyone says they do this—but sometimes I wonder if they’re anything like me. I wonder when enough is enough.

I bring this up today, because my imperfection was put to the test once again.

When someone else got to do something that I had the same opportunity to do and wanted to do so badly instead of myself—I was extremely upset. Internally, of course. But upset, nonetheless.

Lucky me, I couldn’t go anywhere, or get my hands on something to distract me from my own mind. I had no choice but to sit there and reflect on how upset I was, even though it was the last thing that I wanted to spend my afternoon doing. I had to address this certain imperfection. I had to face what I’m not proud of. I had to confront what I want to change. I had to dig deep, yank it out by its root, and examine what and how and why.

Of course it stings at first. But in the end, it was the most alleviating thing I’ve done in a while. It honestly feels as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I feel a lot more clear-minded just by acknowledging it; by finally saying to myself: “Hey, I do this. And I need to figure out how I will handle it better.” It’s like airing the dirty laundry, or unloading the dishwasher.

A few months ago, I attended a wonderful poetry reading by an incredible poet, Kamilah Aisha Moon. She read from her moving and phenomenal book of poetry, called She Has a Name. The collection sheds light on her sister who lives with Autism, by taking on different perspectives of various people in her sister’s life. It explores the human mind, love, appreciation, and life.

During the Q&A, I asked Kamilah: “As someone who has a cousin with Aspergers, I know this book must have been hard to write at some points. Was is it challenging? Was it cathartic? Or was it a little bit of both?”

She answered with this, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it:

“Claim the truth, so that it has no power over you.”

By acknowledging an ugly truth about myself today—I claimed the truth.

And when you claim the truth, you give yourself power and control over it; over how you will let it affect you.

I feel as if “I am not perfect” is something we tell ourselves to convince ourselves that we are not.

We tell ourselves we aren’t perfect, but do we really, truly accept it?

My question for you today is this:

What truly makes you imperfect? What are you keeping yourself from acknowledging, but really want to or need to accept?

I know it’s probably the shittiest thing you’ve ever been asked to do—sorry.

But sometimes, we need a perfectly rude good awakening.

And the best kinds are the ones we bring upon ourselves.

So will you challenge yourself to that?

This is just one of my many imperfections.

But today, I learned this.

I am not perfect.

I’m truly not, and I know this.

But I am working every day to learn from it, handle it, accept it, and be happy with it.

Day 340.


Lesson #282: That time I hated it, but stayed.


When I walked out of my first poetry class of the semester,

I wanted to die.

My professor seemed cool and super intelligent, but she rambled.

The class seemed to have no structure, so I felt like my brain was being tossed around.

We workshopped online instead of in class, and I thought it was completely disengaging.

I was positive the class would be horrible.

But now I’m in the library, just coming back from the last class of the semester, and I can honestly say it’s one of the most meaningful classes I’ve ever been in.

It’s strange to think that on the second day, I almost dropped the class.

And it’s even more strange to think that my life—in the most inescapably cliché way— would not be the same if I had.

I have met some of the most kind, different, intelligent, and exciting people—artists, dancers, rappers, journalists—and we’ve all become closer through our writing and conversations. It saddens me to think that after this class we may all go our separate ways, but I can honestly say that my life and perspective has been impacted just from being in a room with these people for four months.

I have been put out of my comfort zone. I have learned to take chances, and put up with things I hate (aka iambs and pentameter), and have written things I would have never thought to write. I have heard many stories, and have had many, many conversations that I could never have in an everyday setting with people who are too in-their-ways or dismissive to talk about it with. I have learned how to be uncomfortable, but to explore why, and then talk through it.

I have become a little bit better of a person.

And by this, I don’t mean I—or anyone else who has come out of a good experience—was a bad person before. I just mean that every experience that you take and run with, you become a little bit more of who you are, and who you want to be.

I’m also not saying that everything we hate in the beginning will turn out to be wonderful and life-altering and perspective-shifitng.

It won’t.

But this is what I’ve found to be true.

Just because something isn’t how you first imagined it, and just because it’s not how you are used to learning, doesn’t mean it’s wrong and does’t mean you won’t benefit from it either.

Have you even given it a chance?


It could be the time of your life.

Even better—

it could lead you to a better you.

Day 282.

Lesson #275: What happened when I said it out loud.


I’ve written a lot about vulnerability.

But to be honest—I’m vulnerable with you all every day. I’m vulnerable because I share my emotions. I share special moments, but I also share moments that aren’t so special. I don’t just talk about when I’m right, but I talk about when I’m wrong. I talk about things that mean a lot to me, and things that have hurt me, and people that have hurt me.

Basically, it’s all out there.

And not just with a few people. But pretty much, I dunno, like—the entire internet.

Today I learned that it’s a completely different thing to be vulnerable on paper (or on a screen, or in a dance, or on a canvas) than it is to be vulnerable in the flesh.

Each has its’ own monsters.

On paper or in any other art form, you’re usually speaking to a large audience. It’s not as close and intimate. Your expression stretches across time and space; you can’t be everywhere when someone reads it or views it or consumes it. In fact, you don’t have to be there at all. You don’t have to see a response. You don’t have to face the possibility of getting shunned, or laughed at, or judged.

But in the flesh?

Oh God.

Where do I start?

How will I sound? How will I look? Will they hate it? Does it make sense? Is it stupid? Do they actually like it? Are they just saying that to make me feel better?

You’re up close and personal. Your expression is coming from you, now. You are present. You can’t escape the risky possibilities.

So today in poetry class—after letting three of the four members in my workshop group go ahead of me, and then stalling for at least another four or five minutes—I finally read my poem aloud to them.

I’ve read a lot of poems to the class.

They’ve all been about things. About fire, or the sahara, or police brutality, or a girl in a painting.

But never about me.

See, there are really only two ways I write poetry.

I either sit down to write from a prompt, or I’m up at 2am and I can’t stop thinking about it, so I write.

I had only read aloud from poems that have originated from the former, mostly because it’s safe. I’m not saying they were good poems—they really weren’t—but there’s something so easy and secure and not vulnerable about writing on something that hasn’t actually happened to you. It wasn’t your direct experience, so it’s almost easier to talk about and have critiqued and looked at and examined.

Not only was this poem about me, but it was about one of the most personal things that has happened to me. And by personal—I mean an old, completely angsty, sappy, horribly heart-felt and emotional love poem.

Really, who wants to hear those?

And oh—it was a group of me and all guys.

So after muttering for a few minutes, and them begging to hear this self-proclaimed terrible poem, I just went for it.

I might as well have spilled my guts everywhere.

So I read them my poem about this boy. I told them how we were normal together, but how nothing was really normal anymore and how nothing would ever be, but it has to be, because he said so. I told them that it’s like a fire that has just gone out, but is still too hot to touch. I told them that I am suspended, just like stars being hung by invisible nooses in the sky, sparkling like the flashy thing he gave me. I told them I am suspended, stuck in time, waiting.

And now I guess I’ve told you too.


Now that I’ve been vulnerable in almost every way possible—

my point.

Be vulnerable in the flesh, especially.

Obviously, it’s terrifying.

I’m not saying you have to do it every day, or with everyone, or at every chance you see fit.

But open up every once in a while.

Share what you’re feeling or experiencing.

It doesn’t have to be a poem. It can be another form of writing, or speaking, or showing, or drawing, or anything else for that matter.

It’s your experience, and it’s unique.

The boys told me they loved how honest it was. They liked that it was straight forward; no bullshit. I said what I had to say. It had some cool images and great metaphors.

They said that it sounded like me on paper.

And that’s what being vulnerable is about.

Being you.

Expressing what you know, what you’ve done, what you’ve experienced.

Today’s lesson is not “Be vulnerable! I promise you’ll feel great!” or “Everyone will love it!”

But it’s this.

In being vulnerable, you can never be wrong.

You can never be silly, or stupid, or weird.

Because it’s your experience.

It’s you.

And there’s nothing wrong about that.

Day 275.

Lesson #41: You’re still learning.


Look in the mirror every day and tell yourself,

“It’s okay, because I’m learning.”

“I’m still learning.”

Please don’t be so hard on yourself today.

You’re still learning.

You’re still growing.

You are a work of art.

a work in progress.

And it never stops.

You never stop.

So it’s okay.

You’re okay.

You will never stop learning.

And the day you do?

That’s the day you’re not okay.

That’s the day it’s not okay.

Day Forty-One.