Get To Know Tahanee Sayyid, an Encourager of Self Love, Safe Sex, and Protecting Ourselves
Tahanee Sayyid is an author and relationship columnist, but above all, she is an advocate for self love and self esteem. Her book is called Lust Now, Cry Later, which discusses many aspects from mental illness to substance abuse to impulse that is natural in human nature. Her column for Everything Girls Love Magazine discusses the good, the bad, and the ugly of all types of relationships, including one with yourself.
When did you write your book?
The book took a total of 12 years to get published. I first wrote the book in 2008 and self published it. It did okay, but I felt that it didn’t reach its full potential. I didn’t really have the exposure that I needed because I was a self publisher. I decided to pull the book from the shelves and revamp it. A great friend of mine recommended that I get a literary agent (shoutout to Maxine Thompson) and I met her in 2010 or 2011. When I first met her, she had me rewrite my book four times. I didn’t get it published until about six years later. I was offered a total of 3 book deals that actually fell through. I was very persistent and didn’t give up, even though I wanted to. Writing is everything to me and I always have to have it in my life.
A lot of people asked me how I felt when writing my book, and honestly it was an emotional rollercoaster. At the time of writing it, I wouldn’t say that I was necessarily happy. I had to put myself in the position of eight different characters. I had to dig deep and become an abuser, a pedophile, a victim, a cheating wife or cheating husband. Those things were hard and sometimes it was difficult to break out of character. I dug deep because I wanted to give my readers that experience. I wanted them to feel like they know the character or that character is a replica of themselves.
How did you get into being a relationship columnist?
Growing up, I was fascinated with relationships. Whether it was marriages or dating or friendships, I felt myself always wanting to know the things that we could do to make our relationships better. I would watch my mom and dad who have been together for 43 years, and how they interacted, and I just became fascinated with what we could do to improve ourselves and our relationships. Human nature just always had me curious. I then looked at my own relationships, and just wanted to know more about other people. I started to do a lot of interviews trying to figure out these questions and that turned into me writing a column.
Tell me more about the things that you write about that comes from your passion.
I always tell people whenever someone gets involved in relationships, or interacts with people, the way that they are is always based on what they’ve been through, how they were raised, and where they came from. I believe a lot of disfunction starts from the home and if that isn’t corrected or isn’t noticed, people grow up to become unhealthy adults. We get involved in these toxic relationships because things were not dealt with when we were children. In my book, I talk about sexual abuse, and whether you realize it not, a lot of us have gone through situations as children. You can then look back on it as adults and say that was not normal. Then you start thinking for example, my mom telling me that I was fat when I was little is the reason why I keep finding myself in these relationships with toxic men who were always putting me down because that's what I am used to. When you are used to being abused or used to coming from a home where your self love was not nurtured, you find yourself attracting that and it’s normal for you. We all carry emotional baggage and it’s really about defining what those issues are and working on them. I find that a lot of people don’t realize that they are involved in toxic relationships, even in the workplace. It’s very tough, but it isn’t anything that we can’t overcome. You just have to be willing to open up and address them and most importantly, you have to accept it.
You also have a Youtube series. Can you tell us a little about that?
Yes, it’s called Bedrooms, Busters, and Bites. I wanted to create a show in an atmosphere that was just natural. The show is basically just me having conversations with friends and family members who mean the most to me. I will have a guest come on and I will come up with a topic - let's say infidelity - and that’s where the Buster comes in. I will then give a fun fact. For example: In India a man is allowed to offer his wife to pay off a debt. We will then have a flow of conversation about that fact. I will have four guests in total, myself, and a guest chef. They will cook their favorite meal and we will all have a conversation. It’s just so natural, there is no script, we are just family and friends, eating and laughing and having conversations.
It is very inspiring that you really turned your hardships into something so positive.
To be able to write a book and offer advice telling people it's okay, was so therapeutic for me. My breaking point was when I noticed I was becoming comfortable in uncomfortable situations that were not positive. I may have been in a friendship and found myself constantly contacting them, and then when it was time for me to get the type of support that I needed, they wouldn’t be there. I started to feel like that was the norm. I started to see a therapist which has helped immensely and is something that I am so open about. A lot of times in the urban community, me being so open about my therapy is something people react to saying you’re crazy, Black people don’t talk to therapists, that’s a waste of money. That is such a big problem. There is this stigma put on a woman who wants to do better and embrace her beauty and who knows her worth. A lot of men have told me, you’re too picky, but it’s not that I am too picky, I have just realized that I am the prize. I finally got it. When you walk around with self esteem and have that “no nonsense” attitude, people will judge you thinking that you are conceited, but it’s just about you knowing what you deserve. It took me a while to get there, but I decided that enough is enough. The hardest part for people who are interested in bettering themselves is embracing who we are and having that alone time. A lot of people don’t like being alone and I was one of those people. One day I broke that mindset and I took myself out to eat and to a movie and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. From that point on I just stayed focused on myself.
What else would you like to share with our readers today?
I would like to tell anyone out there that has been through a hard relationship or that's going through mental breakdowns, that I think the first thing they need to do is get in touch and create a link with the creator. I don’t get too much into religion, but I will say that without God, life won’t be easy. We have to acknowledge that we all come from something. It is so important to really build that link with your creator. From there, I think things will fall into place and so many doors will open. We also have to be able to be okay with being alone and doing a self audit. No matter how painful, no matter how hard, no matter how angry you get, we have to do self auditing. If not, we will find ourselves looking for audits from outside sources. You will start going to your boyfriend or girlfriend and looking for them to tell you what they feel you should be or what they see. That needs to come from within. Also, if you do feel like you need to talk to someone, then speak to a therapist. People look to their family and friends as therapists, and unfortunately people will take the information and use it against you. That’s why so many relationships are so messed up. We put so much into outside relationships when we need to put that energy into ourselves. Do you really know yourself? Do you really know the definition of love and self love? My dad always says “it’s hard to climb a mountain with a monkey on your back” and that is so true. We take on these relationships with people who have not addressed issues that they’ve gone through. We try to play superman and we end up being the ones who get hurt. My advice would also be to step away from social media, because it has a way of beating us down. Turn off the TV, pick up a good book, and invest your time in yourself. That is the first relationship that we should be working on.
Tahanee will soon be filming her third season of Bedroom, Busters, and Bites which you can find on YouTube here. She is also working on the sequel to her novel as well as another Youtube show which will feature conversations without filters taking a closer look into relationships. You can read her column here, and her website is https://www.tahanee.org. You can also follow her on Instagram. She wants everyone to remember to never be ashamed of who you are and what you have been through. Learn what self love really means to you.