Life Of The Party: The “High-Like” Episode Of Insecure Reminded Me I’m Washed….And That’s A Good Thing
If you’re an Insecure fan and still avoiding spoilers from last Sunday’s episode you should be ashamed, but furthermore you should stop reading now because I’m about to go in deep on the details. As usual, with every episode that damn Issa Rae manages to speak my life into a different character at any given time. Most episodes I see myself in “Issa”, frustrated at my 9-5 non-profit that prides itself on uplifting “underserved (also known as black and poor people)” communities and it taking everything in my soul to just code-switch instead of flipping out on my white privileged co-workers about their obvious disconnect and the fact that just because they are throw on some “Black Lives Matter” earrings doesn’t mean you’re’re any less comatose. Other days, I feel as fabulous as “Molly”, just trying to ball on a budget, make sure me and my friends have nice things and find the strength to demand what I deserve in my career. One episode I was even “Daniel” feeling unappreciated and stagnant as a creative, and questioning my talent and confidence. But last Sunday as the squad headed to Coachella to bask in the Beyoncé experience and in the least played out way “live their best lives”, I surprisingly found a familiar reminder of my past in “Tiffany”.
Usually, I don’t see myself in any capacity in the ever-pretentious blonde reminder to Awkward and Associates that this is what having your ish together looks like. However, I am the only married woman in my own small girl crew. Unlike Tiffany I usually keep my disapproval of their growing pains and bad decisions in my sometimes overly-critical head (which at times I question is harming them more than it is helping them), but last Sunday as she waddled her way through weed smoke and hedonism, I was reminded of that time I rocked a third-trimester belly through Drake’s Annual OVOFest in Toronto in 2014. With his Canadian mug planted on my belly in a sleeveless shirt, my bestie helped navigate me through excited, but friendly crowds as I questioned was secondhand smoke and the bass from “Marvin’s Room” harmful to my fetus. It was an awesome time filled with epic memories…albeit sober memories. As I watched Tiffany shield her belly from Kelli knucking and bucking with a rude white hipster on the Coachella asphalt before having a heart to heart with Issa about how much motherhood would make her different from her besties, I couldn’t help but relate. As hopeful as I am for the friends to hold on to what they shared in those MDMA-induced moments forever, I knew the real deal: Parenting changes the relationship with you and your child-free friends. Motherhood doesn’t ban you to a life of virgin mojitos, crocs and mini-vans. But in a matter of years turning up with your toddler in the tub slowly replaces day parties, girls’ trips and happy hours.
“High-Like” was also a realistic example of how much your relationships with partying and sex change with age. A day after the episode aired, Instagram comments everywhere were filled with viewers shaking their finger at the shows depictions of unsafe sex and reckless drug abuse. Depicting behavior and glorifying it are two totally separate things. While the beauty of Insecure is its realistic reflection of what it means to be young, black and battling adulting anxiety on a daily basis, it’s definitely not a Wikihow for personal behavior. Nor would I argue is it that far off the mark about what it means to be twenty-something and tip-toeing through the minefield that is pregnancy scares, STI treatment and going way too hard on the edibles. My twenties weren’t filled with ferris wheel f**cking, but I do recall a moment involving cunnilingus and the Statue of Liberty which I am neither proud nor ashamed of and that I look at totally different now that I am thirty.
Insecure’s creator and star Issa Rae has stated repeatedly that Season 3 is about knowing better and doing better, and it forces us to humble ourselves and remember that before the degrees, wedding rings and pedestals we’ve made it to one personal struggle at a time, there was a time when none of us knew better. Although most of this particular episode just made me feel old as hell, it helped me recognize that at 34, I’m probably nearing the spin cycle phase of my washed status. I found myself asking friends if they’ve ever tried “Molly” and totally missing the appeal. I recognized I’m comfortable having a few brands of liquor that I know and trust that I can handle and while I don’t judge, getting high seems more of a hassle these days than enjoyable. I can barely get a damn Cinnabon to myself without a three-year-old hunting me down like a bloodhound, can you imagine me getting ten minutes to myself to spark up? I don’t miss hangovers at all and being able to predict exactly what my husband will wear on date night provides me with a sense of comfort that I’m glad has replaced waiting on a guy to text me after a date I assumed went well. It doesn’t mean my twenties weren’t any less enjoyable or that I’m judging those trying to make sense of dating apps, rappers with rainbow hair or Apple’s attempts to convince them that earbud jacks are a bad idea. I just respect that with every phase of life comes something new to make you feel like you’re phoning it in and right now I just happen to be trying to make sense of mortgages, retirement plans and school tuition…and that’s OK.
In addition, this particular episode deepened my appreciation for its honest perspective on the spectrum of what it means to be winning while having melanin. Too often I connect with so many young women who believe that if they aren’t following the footsteps of Michelle Obama, they must be destined to a life of twerking on the hood of your friendly neighborhood rapper’s car in a World Star video. So often they don’t have moments of growth and making mistakes (even the enjoyable ones) to witness that humanize all women and are led to believe that if you aren’t presenting yourself in a certain ways at all times, clearly you are doomed to end up failing at life. Insecure sends a subtle message to all women that there’s life after binge-drinking, unsafe sex with your ex and other lapses in judgement that can all too often be synonymous with being twenty-something and all of us who are allegedly already knowing better and doing better should be supporting others to do the same instead of just casually placing judgment in comments’ sections.
Which brings me back to Tiffany. Out of all the moments in the last two seasons when she spent most of her time looking down her nose at her BFF’s make a mess of their lives and careers, this was the perfect moment for her to really get her gavel on. Instead, she and Issa head to 7-Eleven for water since their Airbnb is filled with nothing but alcohol. It’s then that she shares a moment of humanity in recognizing that with every period of growth in life comes the familiar feeling of not having it together as she admits to Issa, “Everything is different now. Like we’re different now,” to which Issa replies, “S**t changes all the time.” It’s a reminder of the show’s incredible ability to convey that there is beauty in differences. Black girls are flawed, black girls are freaks, black girls are classy, black girls are ratchet, black girls like dark liquor, black girls sip mimosas, black girls pop molly, black girls are professional, black girls are broke, black girls secure bags, black girls are funny, black girls are smart AF, black girls get therapy, black girls have their shit together, black girls are figuring it out, black girls are a mess and black girls are washed and even with all that we are still magical.
Toya Sharee is a Health Resource Specialist who has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog, Bullets and Blessings.