Episode 4

See transcription below:

This project is a collection of thoughts transcribed and dictated by ivana renee and informed by the honest experiences of various homegirls in the city. In this project, “I” is for all of us.

Growing up, everyone always told me that I was brilliant.
They also told me that boys were going to grow up and be tall. The lie detector determined that was a lie.

Before college, I never really struggled in anything. I never doubted that I would take my brilliance to college. I was so smart, and I was going to have so many opportunities. I was going to be set up to live a brilliant life. College was going to prepare me for my brilliant and lucrative career, and I was going to meet my brilliant boyfriend turned husband sometime between New Student Orientation and second semester junior year, giving me the bandwidth to be married and with child by 26.

I graduated high school and went to a top university because I was brilliant.

Freshman year, I brilliantly enroll in my first college-level literature course.

The discussion gets started, and my peers introduce points expanding on the various interpretations of masculinity in “Things Fall Apart”.

What page is ‘masculinity’ on?

I came to class prepared to discuss the plot, maybe point out a metaphor or two, but my classmates had, what I thought to be, such high level analyses.

We had the exact same book, but I couldn’t see what they saw. This was hard for me.

I question my brilliance.

Sophomore year, I declare a pre-med major, but after bombing my pre-med requirements I settle on a liberal arts degree junior year.

C’s get degrees, but I question my brilliance, again.

I graduate from college and move to New York. I take the first job that I’m offered. I start as a pre-school teacher.

I actually knew it wasn’t going to be the best fit from the beginning, but it was my gateway to the city. I ignored it for a while. But I’m dramatic and emotional, and it began to take a toll on my psyche. I wasn’t learning or growing in a direction of interest, and I could feel the motivation leaving my body.

How brilliant am I, really?

I stick it out for about a year but not without falling into a pit of depression. My dissatisfaction is unspoken at work, but I highlight my unhappiness everywhere else.

After months of applying to other positions, I finally get hired at an advertising agency. The pay is boo boo, but I have access to a few cool events and beer on tap. And it feels kind of better than telling people I work at a pre-school.

Still, I don’t feel positioned to actualize my dreams, whatever they are.

It seems like I’m on track for a promotion at my new company. BUT I’m not really interested.

If we’re being honest, I rather get fired than get promoted.

Unemployment, where you at?

My supervisor is a problematic white woman who doesn’t know how to talk to people. She says off the wall shit like, “isn’t your hair really dirty because you don’t wash it everyday?”

I’m tired, and I don’t want to use my lunch break as a teaching moment. I fake chuckle, give her a dry “naah”, and go about my business.

When she’s not pissing me off, I find myself attempting to relate to her and my other co-workers by changing the pitch of my voice, recounting that one time I went to the Hamptons, and alerting them to J. Crew’s latest sale.

Why am I like this?

This ain’t it.

So I decide that I’m going to go to graduate school to reclaim my brilliance.

This way, I’ll have something to tell people while I figure my life out. I can put my worries in a bottle and save them for later. It sounds good.

We use master’s degrees, whisky gingers, and flight deals to mask our uncertainty.

At 20-something, we collectively realize that only we can change our lives. But how and to what?

Right now, all of our homegirls are a little bit anxious.

There is an entrepreneurial spirit in the air in 2017, especially in New York, especially among 20-somethings.

Do I need to start a business to be a success? Do I need to independently write and produce a film? Do I need to travel the world for a year?

We are all over the place.

Some of our homegirls own businesses. Some of our homegirls are unemployed. Some of our homegirls don’t mind the work they’re doing. Some of our homegirls are having panic attacks in their office bathrooms.

The office bathroom particularly becomes crucial for our sanity. It’s our break room. We rest our eyes. We rest our souls. We take ten minutes to be with ourselves. We take naps. We scroll through our timelines. We shed tears. We fill in our eyebrows and apply highlight for the after work function.

When we imagined our grown up lives, we thought we’d have little problems at this age. Maybe, we’d have to shop at Ikea because we couldn’t afford expensive furniture. Or maybe, a nigga had us fucked up. But we didn’t imagine questioning our purpose on Earth.

Compound these insecurities with our own elitism and self-importance, and we’re an anxious hot mess.

We have an image to maintain, so we flex and finesse to maneuver.

We scam our way into fashion week events with no real purpose besides adding new flicks to our Instagram story.

It aligns with our “personal brand”.

We’re brilliant. We deserve a certain type of lifestyle.

We’ve “treated ourselves” into overdraft protection.

We’ve already scammed every food delivery service and restaurant out of their promo codes: $10 off our first UberEats order, BOGO Chipotle, and Postmates delivery credit, to name a few.

So our manicure money, our clothes money, and our happy hour and weed money all come out of our food money.

I mean, in New York, it doesn’t matter if you have $100 dollars or $1 in your pocket, you still can eat that day, and dollar slices are surprisingly satisfying.

We’re fake poor, so as long as we don’t get addicted to crack, our parents will provide some kind of safety net for us, even if that safety net is at their house.

But one, moving out of this city feels synonymous with “quitting”. We don’t want to leave until we “accomplish something”.

And two, we can’t move home unless we’re on some super fly shit. Our hometown homies can’t see us in the ChickFila drive-thru unless we’re pulling off in a Benz.

Most of us aren’t balling yet, but our fears aren’t actually about eviction or falling below the poverty line.

We fear that we will be positioned to accept a life that we aren’t proud of or excited about.

So we stress ourselves out, flex and finesse, and take “L” after “L” in the treacherous pursuit of our something better.

This is for the brilliant homegirls, homegirls who have been overwhelmed by our own potential.

This is a collection of stories from homegirls who are honest with themselves, each other, and the world. In this project, “I” is for all of us.

ivana renee