Like a lot of you, I promptly read Adele‘s morning surprise letter that she posted on her social media accounts. While she disclosed that her next album 25 was certainly on the way (tissues will be on deck for that one), the most touching parts of her personal essay were how she admitted that after years of beating herself up on “failed relationships” and self-doubt that she has been working on herself. This is big of her to say considering this is the same woman that has not just Grammys, but an Oscar and Golden Globe. If ever had a bad day or couldn’t forgive the past for the sake of my sanity, I would look right at my shelf of shiny trophies and be like, “Hey y’all! Thanks for reminding me I am the shit!”
But Adele’s letter was great because it read so honestly. So true of how we don’t know how to handle circumstances or be thankful of moments or people because in those times, once it’s over or we have removed ourselves, we only beg to go back in time and proceed in the ways we truly wish we had. I felt her letter also touched on the recurring motif of the (many) life lessons we should’ve learned the first time our hearts gasped for air or when we could’ve been braver and taken the reins on fear and guilt.
The following passage is the crux of Adele’s affecting letter: “Turning 25 was a turning point for me, slap bang in the middle of my 20s. Teetering on the edge of being an old adolescent and a fully-fledged adult, I made the decision to go into becoming who I’m going to be forever without a removal van full of my old junk. I miss everything about my past, the good and the bad, but only because it won’t come back. When I was in it, I wanted out! So typical. I’m on about being a teenager, sitting around and chatting sh— and not caring about the future because it didn’t matter like it does now.”
Ugh. Did that get me good. Especially the line where she wrote: “I miss everything about my past, the good and the bad, but only because it won’t come back.” *grabs chest*
By the end, I felt compelled to write my own letter in the way Adele did. She’s not the first celeb to essentially write a letter to herself that also serviced as a re-introduction to the public of sorts. Madonna did it for Harper’s Bazaar, as well as Gabrielle Union for Ebony. But Adele’s was more informal for she uploaded it herself straight to her audience. No big-time magazine editor looking it over and making it she hit every and any point as a woman looking back at her youth or days gone by. Her letter just was.
Below is my response to Adele. It’s personal, yes, but I hope that as a reader, you can relate to it. It’s sometimes hard to be so transparent on online and in social media. My mother regularly votes against it, and in recent months, I’ve attempted to keep things lighter or just to myself. But hell, hiding is not going to solve anything and there’s no shame in sharing how you feel sometimes. I recall in a poem I wrote, that I still have somewhere, that within it said: “I cry because I’m human.”
Before, and on this very site, I’ve written similarly-based essays on when life made me irritable. But I know now they were kind of whiny and a “no-one-gets-me” type of solipsistic nature. Today, I’m more honest with myself, as I continue to learn to pardon mistakes and not get too sad on the former life I had that is now just Facebook memories and deleted MySpace pics.
My words are as followed:
I’ve had a similar revelation to that of Adele’s recent letter. As I am a year older than the Grammy winner, I too in recent weeks have reflected deeply on the company I have kept, the way I’ve conducted myself in the past and why I’m right where I am right now. Truthfully, all at once I feel bad, disappointed, haughty, accomplished and terribly sad. In between moments of great triumph and luck, I’ve seen friendships I thought would never fizzle do exactly that. A relationship I desperately wanted to make work and it was just another case of real love tarnished by unhealed wounds and immaturity. And opportunities I knew I should’ve worked so much harder at but I really didn’t have a clue about anything despite my move to New York otherwise showcasing the mighty warrior inside of me.
Friendship wise, I’ve witnessed myself be too prideful to salvage the ones I really should have while foolishly holding on to others in which as I type this continue to make me feel disenchanted. I was just temporary to some, evidently. This was proven to me this year when great things for me would happen and I was the only one in the room to celebrate my growth and achievement. Frustratingly however for everyone else’s big day whether it was a birthday party or such, I was always there, no questions asked. For example, when I used to DJ at NYC’s Sweet & Vicious, it hurt to see that not one person I knew presently in the city was there while in the back of my mind I knew friends I had in the past, and as manic depressive as they were, would’ve come through and cheered me on in a heartbeat. Why is that we always learn so late who really has our back?
Career-wise, it’s been a rocky road to say the least. I hit the ground running when I moved to New York. And I made moves! I got my dream internship at one of the magazines I loved as a ’90s kid and I slowly built up my credentials. There was an innocence to how green I was those first two years, but I still had so much to learn and it showed in how I sometimes reacted passive aggressively or too damn meek. I know I’ve got a talent, but I would regularly squirm in my seat if I felt my writing voice had a muzzle placed on it (no one ever really discloses that journalism outlets do have an agenda) or the occasions I had to admit that another intern or writer was slightly more advanced than I. I would even place pressure on myself that if I could only be as adept as the Deputy Editor, a position I was certainly then a few years away from in editorial. I sometimes entered myself in such unfair races when really, I should’ve been focused on being the best I was capable of being. I was competing with everyone instead of myself.
Romantic-wise, God, I was a mess. At 26, I was a mess. Kismet would have that I would have a boyfriend for nearly two years in New York, but it was the epitome of a beautiful disaster. When we were great, it was like he was all I had and in a city like NYC, having a significant other makes you feel so high. It can be such a lonely city. Out of the Hyperlapse reality it contains, it was a gift to slow it all down and just go to his house and watch TV together. When it was bad, I felt like I was being punished for a past mistake. Honestly, I don’t know who’s more of a favorite mistake a la Sheryl Crow. Him or a Boston fuckboy I used to know.
With all of that said, there have been days I’ve been exceedingly sad because of these many things. But on the other foot, I have had wonderful days and opportunities that I knew it was God out there looking out for me. But here is where life gets so hard sometimes. In the span of 48 hours and go from confident and willing to inexplicably depressed and detached is like that Instagram meme with its tagline of, “dis too much.”
As you get older, all you try to do is recognize the real and connect with those that really want you in their lives, as you feel inclined to mentally and emotionally pre-screen anyone that comes your way. They got to be either a potential chum or a keep it moving passerby.
When I look like at my early to mid-twenties especially, the good times I had feel less real now. Were those really my friends I was all in the club with on that rooftop at Le Bain or in the Lower East Side? Has anyone ever really liked me? Y’all laughed with me and said to others how fun or cool I was, but where are you now? Lately, I point to the title of a Walkmen album in which they brutely labeled as Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone. While I’m so much smarter than I was at 26 but not as free as I was at 22, I look back and all I can do is just take a deep breath and remind myself to relax. I feel like I am alone, but I know I am not. The friends I have now have known me for years. The achievements and failures I have gathered I will try not to box in vain. Mistakes I made in relationships were not out of spite but in trying to beat the world to the punch that I was stronger even though I was walked upon on more than once by close that claimed they loved me. But no one is perfect. The sentiment of the century.
One day, as I walked along Tremont Street in Boston, I had Lianne La Havas‘ “Green and Gold” on repeat. I love that one line in the chorus where she sings: “Those lies you gave to me. They let me see, where I’m coming from.” And leading into the second verse: “Now I’m fully grown. And I’m seeing everything clearer. Just sweep away the dust from the mirror…” Ugh! Another song I wish I had written! But being that La Havas is around my age bracket, I felt her ambiance that she too was starting to get ‘it.’
Breakthroughs help us get over those burning bridges after we’ve amassed enough scars for a lifetime. We may not be grateful in the moment but in time, we understand with the kind of clarity we wish we had back then. But at least those progress sparks were ignited. For that means, we are still here and still very much capable of a rebirth. We’re just getting older. Forgive yourself .