“What’s the tea?”
You say this—crucially with an exorbitant amount of enthusiasm and sass—when you’re fishing for the truth. The usage of “tea” in this context is as playful and colorful as you’ll imagine everything that comes out of gay culture. Tea literally sounds like “T”, and T is for “the Truth”. There’s also the part that drinking tea with someone typically happens while having an intimate conversation, which in gay-speak is called “kiki”—but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
When you ask someone to spill the tea, you ask them to let out the truth. But wouldn’t you know it, the word tea can also mean literal tea, and obviously can be extended into an abbreviation.
For work queers like yours truly, “tea” means two equally significant things—the truth, and one other invaluable thing. Well, things.
In the productivity world, TEA is short for “time, energy, and attention”. These are very finite things that professionals must wisely allocate, provision, and spend if they want to become more productive at work.
You’ll have a difficult time making productive work if you don’t have all three. You can have all the time in the world, but you won’t be able to do much if you’re short on energy. Similarly, you can have so much energy, but if you lack focus, it won’t do much either. Inversely, the truth—or, ahem, the “tea”—is that every one of us has very limited time, energy, and attention. Being strategic about why, how, and where we put our TEA has proved incredibly helpful work-wise.
That got me thinking. Some ways away from the excesses of “oooh, henny”-style gay culture and the understated humdrum of work productivity.
My brain drove me straight into thinking about being present in the lives of loved ones. See, you typically don’t count the TEA you spend on interactions with friends and family. That’s simply because they are people with immutable, intrinsic value in our lives. We like hanging out with friends and family, and we like doing them favors—sometimes regardless if its counter-intuitive to our goals.
In my head, those three are as priceless as things can go. You can’t buy time, energy, and attention, even if you want to. Sadly, you can’t say the same thing for the truth—but I digress.
We all have the same twenty-four hours in a day, regardless of your race, gender, or social class. If a friend takes thirty minutes out of his/her time to hang out, I’d be damn grateful. The same goes for energy and attention.
The bottom line? You’re giving up a lot by being there for someone. When someone makes the effort to become present in your life, you want to value, respect, and reciprocate that.
Similarly, when you do it for your friends and family, make sure to get to it without reservations. You can’t and shouldn’t half-ass being there for a loved one—unless, of course, it’s all fake love.
Just like TEA, the productive framework, you have to be thoughtful about spending your time, energy, and attention. Put yourself in the moment, rather than be physically there but mentally somewhere else. If it’s not scorching hot gossip about drag queens, don’t spill TEA, pour it with intention and purpose.
It’s a challenge I’ve picked up for myself this year. If I find myself wrangling down the mud, then werk, at least I can rest easy on the fact that I’ve made the effort. Now, why don’t you?