To Be Perfectly Honest, Frank…
This past Monday night I tweeted: "Dear Future Husband, Let’s take over the world together. Sincerely, Jas."
I was leaving a friend's birthday party. It was late, the weather was warm, I was a little buzzed. As I walked the long way to my train, I felt good, so I shared a very personal, and perhaps uncharacteristically vulnerable, thought. Within minutes, I had dozens of replies. Many of them were retweets from other women, a few were replies from male followers willing to take me up on the request and several were from my own friends but their responses were somewhat surprising. They laughed. The joke became that my phone had been hacked; there’s no way that I had written that.
I said nothing.
Let me be clear, I don’t believe my friends meant me any harm. In fact, I know they didn’t which is why I didn’t respond. But I do believe that sometimes we get so caught up in wanting to be accepted that we will do so at the expense of others. Instead of taking a moment to really think about what I said and that it’s something they also want, they decided to make light of it.
After 24 hours of speculation, singer/songwriter Frank Ocean (via Tumblr) revealed (beautifully) that he was (at the very least) bisexual. He shared the very personal story of his first love, which happens to have been a man. Although the response has been refreshingly positive, the inevitable jokes and backlash surely followed. To some, his music has changed. They’re unsure if he’s singing to a woman or a man. For others, they took issue with the idea of bisexuality all together, reasoning that once you’ve been with a man, you’re gay. Then, some simply wanted a reason to ridicule him, proclaiming they "knew it all along" by his "soft" lyrics and fierce privacy.
But I get it.
Lately I’ve been feeling…lost.
Know that I live in a city and work in an industry where (ironically) everyone is determined to be/look/act cool, yet almost everyone is actually (also) lost; we’re just not supposed to say it. But that’s how I’ve been feeling. I’m learning to come to grips with the idea that people actually do pay attention to what I say, an idea at first that scared me then left me feeling like I had to be extra protective of my own life as to avoid the ridicule so many people are so quick to give.
While reading Frank's blog, I realized that while it makes an amazing statement about homosexuality in our culture, it made an even bigger statement about individuality in our culture. Frank declared quite simply: This is who I am, and that is going to have to be good enough.
I’m a heavy tweeter, I tumbl regularly, and every so often I post incredibly personal blogs about something I’m going through or have recently learned. Despite all of that, only 25% of my life happens in the public eye. The other 75% are the parts that most people don’t see. Part of my hesitation to share more of own story–my journey--has been for the very reason I wouldn’t normally tweet something as personal as I did on Monday: because some people would find a way to make a joke of it.
Now I know what some of you are going to say "who cares?" But let’s be honest, nobody wants to be the butt of a joke. That’s why you see even the most popular celebs spazzing out on random people they feel are harassing them. At the end of the day, we’re all human. And on some level, we all want to be accepted.
Did you know that since 2008 I’ve lost 103lbs but I still struggle with my body image? Did you know that after nine years of working/eating/breathing film and TV, I left that industry and found myself completely lost? I actually fell into blogging just because I didn’t know what else to do. I’ve had my heart broken more times than I think is fair, and it has left me über cautious of who I date–or let in for that matter–simply because I know all to well what it’s like when it’s over.
Real talk, this harsh and expensive ass city that I love, whips my ass, and what many don’t realize about this career choice of mine is that every single day is a battle. While I’m so grateful to God to be able to do what I do and experience the many amazing things I do, I am taxed constantly with chasing down checks, dealing with unprofessionalism, ridiculous hours, horny rappers, constant self-editing and moments where I look at my friends back home–with their families and their quiet stable lives–and I think to myself that maybe I just want that.
I don’t say any or all of this for you to feel sorry for me. Like I said, I know how blessed I am. I’m telling you all of this because I know that if I’m dealing with all of this, maybe in their own way, someone else out there is too. And maybe, just maybe–like Frank–we both can find the courage to say this is who I am. Sometimes in the moment, playing it cool is easier. But in the long run, being you is better. There’s something magical that happens, when you are being your true self and the universe will always reward you in kind.
As I continue to learn and grow both personally and professionally, I have to decide what I want my own personal zeitgeist to be. My dear friend Jovi told me today, "I want you to make being yourself cool." I instantly thought of Frank who was willing to risk so very much just to finally live his life as nothing more than himself. If he can do it, so can I. And if I can do it, so can you.