On what was supposed to be a romantic trip to Italy, Tyra found herself on a tiny kayak in the middle of a volcanic lake. She was acutely aware of the dangers surrounding her and thoughts of the kayak tipping over rushed into her head… She was scared.
We’ve all been there. Maybe it’s not in the middle of a volcanic lake, but it’s a new job, a new city, leaving home for the first time, ending a relationship or starting a new one–that moment of uncomfortability, where we’re paralyzed to move on from familiar territory. We’re held back by a fear of the unknown and an overwhelming sense that everything that could go wrong.
“I was against it 100%,” Tyra Gabrielle Morrison, aka Tyra the Creative shared of her trip to Italy. “But hands down it was the number one experience of my life. I would not have experienced that if I didn’t allow myself to be a little uncomfortable. I think about that all the time — I was literally in Rome kayaking on a volcano lake.
It’s so crazy how we stop ourselves from doing stuff that can really be the best experiences of our life.”
The Louisiana native, now based in LA, has since been on a journey to develop her multi-hyphenate career and is opening up discussions on overcoming the moments of block and paralysis we all experience when embarking on new and unfamiliar challenges.
Hey Tyra! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me today. Let’s jump straight in as I have quite a few questions I’m curious to hear your thoughts on.
Why have you chosen to specifically help fellow Black creatives with your content?
Honestly, it just happened. Even very early on into creating my content, it just flowed. I am my audience — I’m talking to people who look like me, who have my experiences. When I was trying to cater to the masses, I found myself being paralysed by questions like “will this come off as offensive” or “will they understand what I meant when I said it this way?”
As a Black creative, are there any things you’ve struggled with that have impacted your mental health?
I would personally say the biggest struggle I’ve had is finding my own lane in what I’m doing. I’m technically a niched content creator but I’m also not, because I have so many different pillars and layers to Tyra The Creative. So finding where I fit in has been a little challenging because there are other creators who are literally doing the same thing as me who have started after me and their platforms have skyrocketed. [These creators], they haven’t had as much melanin as me — just to put it plainly. I’ve seen these channels grow exponentially in such a small period of time and it’s very discouraging.
I’ve also been dealing a lot with imposter syndrome. What I’m releasing is that it’s a very human thing to deal with imposter syndrome. I feel that way because I’m always like “I don’t know this” or “how can I even talk about this if I don’t know all of it.” I think it affected my mental health because I began to doubt myself and sometimes I would be very hesitant to put out my content.
You create content across multiple social channels (including Insta and YouTube) and you have a great podcast, Affirmations for Black Girls. You cover so many topics and serve us some relatable life lessons like setting healthy boundaries and pushing past discomfort. Can you speak in particular about how you’ve pushed past discomfort?
The biggest thing for me is retraining my brain to welcome the discomfort. Growing up I didn’t have the best childhood as far as my home life. My mamma and daddy divorced when I was young. I grew up in the South, so subsequently things like crying, expressing myself, feeling, made me feel uncomfortable. Growing up I would always say one of the biggest things I hate is change — I hate my plans changing, I hate when things don’t go my way. The reason I’d say that is because I like to be in control of anything I can be in control of. The thing that has helped me the most is retraining my brain to welcome that and be excited about change and discomfort and uncomfortability because that’s the only way you can grow. It’s so crazy how we stop ourselves from doing stuff that can really be the best experiences of our life.
How do you go about doing that?
When I am uncomfortable, I smile, and that has trained my brain that this is actually a good feeling. I think of it this way, going through an uncomfortable situation is an opportunity to grow my “armor” so that this same situation doesn’t hurt me or phase me in the same way it once did.
How else have you navigated pushing past discomfort?
I’m working through it in therapy and it’s becoming easier. I’m getting comfortable with living outside my comfort zone. When I’m uncomfortable, I’m like OK Tyra this is exactly where you need to be. I’m retraining my brain to learn to love that feeling versus pushing that feeling away.
How did you go about finding your therapist?
I went on betterhelp.com. I listen to alot of podcasts and betterhelp had been working with a lot of influencers so I had been hearing about it alot.
They give you a survey and ask you who you want your therapist to be and a few other questions. They matched me with Kim and I’ve had her since 2019 and she’s been great. She is an older white woman and I was very hesitant about that, but she’s been great. Our relationship has evolved over time, she knows me and it’s very easy for me to tell her exactly what I’m going through. I’m also Christian and I wanted a faith based therapist. Betterhelp has a sister site called Faithful Counseling. That’s how I matched with Kim
…I thought about going to therapy for a long time. I was so frustrated with how I was feeling all the time and I just needed a change, whatever it was. That was definitely the tipping point for me because my life has been so different since I started going to therapy. It’s not necessarily just because I’ve started going to therapy but I’ve allowed myself to open my mind to different things and think in different ways.
What do you do these days when you find yourself in uncomfortable situations?
Nowadays, when I feel even the slightest bit uncomfortable, I lean into it wholeheartedly and feel all the feels because honestly, it’s never as bad as I think. But, before I do this, I check in with myself and see why I am uncomfortable. If it is something dealing with another person, then I further evaluate, but if it’s something simply dealing with change or growth within myself, I lean in.
What messages do you want Black creatives and also Black women to take away from your content?
Do it scared! That’s one of my taglines. I talk to so many people, so many creatives that say “I wanna do what you’re doing but I can’t, I’m just so scared.” Do it — scared. I’m scared everyday boo, I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m just doing it. Do it scared because you will gain this confidence that no-one can take away. Even if you don’t have what you need. It’s getting cliche at this point but it’s so true, so many people wait until they have the camera, the lighting, till they have all of these things, they wait for the opportunity. You make the opportunity.
I’m loving the passion. So final question for you Tyra, what realistic steps can Black women take to prioritize their mental health?
- Setting aside time to check in with yourself.
“Especially if you’re not ready for therapy. Have a little therapy with yourself or a friend, someone you can confide in. For me it was very hard to check in with myself so I had to do a physical other person to get into a routine so I could do it on my own.”
- You can check-in any time, anywhere.
“Let’s say you’re at the mall and someone bumps into you and this frustrates you. Take a beat and think about what’s really happening. Tyra what’s going on? Why did that frustrate you?”
“Abide is more faith-based, with Headspace you can do a 30 second meditations and with Calm the sleep stories, gets me in a mode where I’m just focusing on myself and the story. All 3 have helped me on the mediation side of my mental processing.”
Tyra also recommends these resources which have helped and continue to help her on her journey:
- The Defining Decade by Meg Jay
- The Therapy for Black Girls podcast
- Women Evolve with Sarah Jakes Roberts — this podcast goes beyond faith and dives into everything dealing with mental health
- The AFFIRM Podcast