When Quotes Aren’t Enough (+ a poem)

3 months ago I stood in front of an audience full of my closest friends and prepared to do my final performance as a member of Ebony Readers/ Onyx Theater (EROT). EROT, the spoken word group I joined in college, had become a huge part of my life. I would do anything for anyone in that group. I fought the emotion with knowing that very soon I would graduate and leave the group for good. The poem that I had prepared was extremely personal, took forever to write, and was the hardest piece I could have possibly chosen to perform.  However, I knew in my soul I had to go out with a bang. I was ready to lay it all on stage and two-step across the stage at graduation. So I took a deep breath, stared at the audience intensely, and…..forgot my lines halfway through the poem.

Mortified, I stuttered through the last half of the poem, panic rising each time a rehearsed line flew from my brain and found a resting place on the printed out copy back at my seat. Finally, I spat out the last line and flew from the stage- straight out the door and outside to the Stone Center Auditorium steps. I can’t remember the last time I cried that hard. I had let everyone down, including myself.

I’m probably still not completely over that performance. At some point I need to thank my EROT family, whose words of wisdom and consolation helped a lot once I was ready to accept that mistakes are made and life goes on. I also need to apologize for not acknowledging my thanks sooner.

Now, that I’m a better place in life (I guess graduating and having a full-time job will do that to you) I want to go back to that poem. I think it’s still worth sharing.



The 5 Stages of Hating Yourself

Stage one- Self awareness

At a tender age

You begin to compare yourself to others

Notice your hair isn’t as long as the pretty girls

Your skin isn’t quite the same pretty caramel

And “blackie” is supposed to be an insult

Eventually you learn that your worth

Lies in the clothes you wear

Or rather, the ones you can’t afford

That your beauty will lie in your bra size

Or how well you can fill out a pair of jeans

By highschool, you know that having an apple figure

doesn’t make you the apple in everyone’s eye

so by Stage 2 you become someone’s sweet tooth

Become available for them when they need you

When they’re craving something warm in their bed

Propose your values to them for validation

And blame yourself when they refuse

You find a strange comfort in others insecurities

Because they distract you from your own

You become the reason another little girl

Doesn’t think she’s good enough

Stage 3- Coping

But not really

Because that 80 proof bottle aint prove shit to you

Except how sloppy you’ve become

And when the last few embers of that blunt died down

You were still left with more questions than answers

But it’s easier to blame them after the fact

And it’s easier to self-destruct when you’re not quite yourself

So that leads us to

Stage 4- Self-loathing

They say beauty is only skin deep

But you hate what’s deeper

Your foot has a second home underneath your tongue

You guess that’s why you’re so bitter

Why it’s so easy to spit insults

Hiding behind words you thought you’d never say

You become a two-faced coward

Brave enough to convict others of anti-blackness

While longing to escape your own skin

You wonder how anyone could ever love you

Why would they?

In the pits of your heart you are not enough

But self-pity ain’t cool

And crying for attention is frowned upon

So you smile


And pretend everything is alright

Even when your soul is crumbling

The pieces become other’s stepping-stones

Eventually you will become dust

And only then will you realize that you have not been


Then it will be time for

Stage 5

Stage 5 is up to you

Some people go their whole lives trapped under a weight that only they can lift

At some point- you will realize that every day you go on is a battle

That you choose to win

Understand that some cleverly scripted quote about self worth

Is not always enough

Beneath the coats of makeup and compliments

There is the same skeleton

The same scars harboring the same secrets

There is no formula for loving yourself

Eventually, you will learn to pick your spirit up

from underneath your own feet

To stop picking old wounds

Stop offering your flaws up to those who are not worthy

Stage 5 never really ends

It is a continuous cycle

Of having the courage to change the things you can

And the strength to accept the things you cannot

But one thing I can promise you, is that someone in this world loves you

It is time to follow their example

erot logo




2 thoughts on “When Quotes Aren’t Enough (+ a poem)”

  1. *Snaps snaps snaps*
    Ive never been brave enough to perform so you already won by getting on that stage ! Keep em coming !!


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