Have you heard?
I gave a TEDx talk. At 23 yrs. old. At Lincoln University.
What a dream.
Below, I dive into my experience writing this talk.. and yes. I bare some of my soul.
AUG. 30 2019
At about 5:30 pm EST, I got word that I was selected to be a potential speaker at TEDx Lincoln University. I was at work and I was shocked, but too busy to be too excited. Either way, I responded letting them know that I was definitely interested.
SEPT. 11 2019
After having said interview, I got notice that I was formally invited to speak at this prestigious event. I was beyond excited, but I knew it would be a lot. I was ready though.
OCT 11 2019
I submitted my first draft on my 23rd birthday. It was more of a compilation of my messy thoughts as opposed to a full speech, but it was what I came up while prepping a 3-day weekend to celebrate my birth in addition to producing television.
I'd like to formally thank Dan Harmon for this story structure formula and Paulette for sharing it with me. And now, I'm sharing some of it with you. Enjoy.
SOMETIME IN DECEMBER 2019
Please note that I'm always transparent with my work, but I honestly do not know how I finished 4 drafts of this talk between October and December 2019. These were some of the darkest months of my entire life and I guess here's as good a place as any to disclose what was happening to me.
I experienced burnout like nothing else. If you recall, I discussed the importance of taking breaks when I went on my cruise in August. That cruise was nowhere near the level of self-care that I needed to recover from the amount of stress and pressure I put myself under throughout 2019.
Creating a web-series is a fulfilling experience. Shooting and editing videos for friends is rewarding. Throwing parties is fun. Working in the entertainment industry is something I worked very hard to do - it is not a privilege, I earned it. And knowing that is comforting.
But, taking enough time to heal myself along the way was something I overlooked.
I ignored myself for a year to feed my undying thirst for my passions. I was ready to take the world by storm and my mental health suffered.
I knew I was in a crisis when I had a panic attack at work one day. It was a Thursday and for months on end prior to this particular day, I had been a mess. The streets of Brooklyn had coined me the "The Crying Black Girl on the Block" and every New Yorker on the train would avert their eyes as mascara streamed down my face every single day to and from Times Square.
I had hit such a low that I was rolling out of bed at the LAST possible second I needed to throw something on and dip out the crib.
I was not KayraJay. For a really long time.
There were many contributions to my pain.
But, deep down inside, I knew I had shit to do. So I had to pull it together.
I became annoyingly aware at how dark my energy was and knew that there was no possible way I could write this TEDx talk or continue my other projects this way, so I sought help.
I got a black lady therapist. She's in Brooklyn. She does not accept my insurance. And she's amazing.
Finding a therapist is a scary task.
For one, you feel.. crazy. Or, at least I did. Luckily, I have people around me who are very open with going to therapy and there's a comfort in knowing that people around you are also reaping the benefits of therapy - but to take the matter into your own hands is a very daunting task. However, I figured it out.
I had decided enough was enough when I had this panic attack on that Thursday at work. I went home shortly after, cried a bit more, watched Jimmy Neutron, drank 3 beers, slept, and proceeded to go on Therapy For Black Girls where I locked in my lady.
In the short time that I've started going to therapy and putting myself first in every area of my life, I've changed dramatically inside.
I've been able to address things that I have the control to change, which has greatly impacted my approach to myself and the world around me.
For one, I learned the importance of establishing boundaries and understanding when to be patient with myself. There were times when I had to let my TEDx committee know that I we needed to reschedule practice 15 min. before the call because it's New Year's Eve and I've already started drinking champagne with Malique at 5:42pm in the afternoon - so no, I cannot rehearse my talk.
JANUARY 11 2020
On January 11th, 2020 at Lincoln University, the FIRST degree-granting HBCU, I delivered a TEDx talk. A talk that I had originally written to tell my story, but turned out to be what healed me through a difficult time. A talk that challenged me to listen to my own words and apply my philosophy, and Sartre's, to my current reality -- thus creating a better writer and an official public speaker.
I am quite proud of myself.
It was fucking hard, but I did it.
producer / writer / artist