Writer/vlogger tells story of hope after addiction, building community and smashing stigma
Tiffany Jenkins is a real person.
The zany mom antics on her YouTube channel? Real. The stigma-smashing frankness about her depression and anxiety in her book? Real. And the recovering-addict stories of struggle and hope that she shared on a blog that’s the genesis of her now-public persona? Also real.
“It’s really me. I am a person who went through it and made it out,” Jenkins said in a recent phone interview. “I feel like everybody wants to put you in a box. I try to steer clear of labels. I’m just a human person.”
That Jenkins even has a public persona is no small feat. From the depths of addiction (Jenkins’ opioid addiction eventually landed her in prison) to the stress of unexpected pregnancies and the isolation of raising her kids, Jenkins needed to find a place to make connections.
“People online made me feel OK. I’ve always been an over-sharer. But every time I shared something scary or personal [online], people would come out of the woodwork with their own stories and with support, and it shocked me,” Jenkins said.
And so her blog led to YouTube videos, which led to a book, High Achiever: The Incredible True Story of One Addict’s Double Life, which has led now to a live tour. But “Tiffany Jenkins: This Show is Awkward AF” almost didn’t happen.
“I was offered to do a tour, and I said yes, but I am plagued by this crazy anxiety, and my fears kicked in and I backed out,” Jenkins said. “But I had someone tell me online that they’d give anything to meet me so I changed my mind again. It sounds corny, but there are a lot of people whose only connection is their phone, and they shouldn’t be ashamed to be like that. But it became so important to move beyond the screen.”
“This Show is Awkward AF” will include stories unique to the live show and will close with a Q&A with the audience, born of Jenkins’ desire that this in-person thing with her supporters be more than a one-way street.
“I do things in a funny way because that helps break down walls and then people can listen. So this show will be funny but it will also have all of the parts of being a real human. I talk about my past in ways that share lessons, but I also talk about the good stuff and the funny stuff and how my life is now. My goal is to make everybody laugh and everybody cry,” Jenkins said. “I have no clue how any of this is happening or what I’m doing. But it’s the greatest gift of my life, to be able to do this with my second chance.”