I by no means will ever claim to be the voice of the creatives, but I’m realizing that there isn’t enough encouragement in our community. Creating isn’t everyone’s full-time job, but for many of us, creating is how we eat and how we survive. This is the group I want to address specifically, not to say there won’t be something in here for those of you who are hobbyists, or those just starting out, by all means, this is for you as well. So let’s get into this…
I know that it’s hard to articulate why art is so important. Many times we run into individuals that believe that what we do is as simple as pressing a button, or just a stroke of a pen. The thing is, it’s much more than that. Every time we set out to create something, we are putting a piece of ourselves out into the world. Many think that our work is the most outward expression of who we are, but I’m here to say that you are not defined by the work you produce, nor should you ever be limited by that work. You are the creator and ultimately you are in control, not the work or your audience. Take things as far as you want, never let what you’ve created previously be greater than where you are headed.
I also realized recently that you are always much further along than you think. A lack of confidence can ultimately separate you from the greatness you are actually capable of. Just think of it this way, there have probably been projects, tasks, ideas, etc. you’ve set out to create that you weren’t sure how you were going to complete, and somehow, in the end, you achieved it. You know why that is? It’s because you always had the ability within you, but your doubt was so powerful that it could have stopped you. Aren’t you glad you didn’t allow that to happen?
I need to take a moment now to encourage a specific group of creatives that I know doesn’t get enough shine or attention: black female creatives. Let’s be real, the system is set up for you all not to make it. Recently, however, we’ve seen some amazing black creatives breakthrough like Ava D (film/tv), Issa Rae (YouTube, TV, and film), and Tasha Blue (photographer). It’s been amazing to not only see so much more representation of black women in the creative community but to see quality work that pushes everyone else to question how they can improve their own work. Black women, they lied to you, you all are great. You have a story and perspective that only you can share, and if no one told you today, I BELIEVE IN YOU and I KNOW YOU ARE GOING TO DO GREAT THINGS! I not only want to see you create, but I️ want to see you become successful. If you ever need a word of encouragement or a push in the right direction, I’m here. If you doubt whether or not anyone is feeling your work, know that I AM. Stop doubting yourself, your vision, or your idea and put that workout. Keep creating because you are valued, you are special, you are important and you are needed. We need your eye, your voice, and your perspective more than anything at this point in history. You are loved, creative black girl.
I believe that it’s important as creatives to take time to acknowledge the importance of taking a breather. The work will always be there, but your health will not. You can’t burn the candle at both ends and expect that there will be anything left of the candle when you need warmth later. You have to take time for you because your mental health is the most important part of creating. If you are not mentally whole, you may be able to create some things, but ultimately you will fall apart. You have to know when to say no, and when to say it’s time to rest. While it’s important to always be busy, it’s necessary to set aside time to recharge. You probably already know this, but recharging isn’t always sleep, many times it’s just taking a walk, hiding your work from your view, and just taking time to give your brain a break. This work no matter what it is (fine art, video, graphics, dance, acting, photography, etc.) will kill you if you allow it to take hold of you’re everything. You are great the way you are, but if you don’t slow down from time to time your greatness will be affected severely. Don’t be your own worst enemy, help yourself and be great by knowing when to stop and take care of yourself. You’ve got this. I believe in your vision, but you need to take care of you to bring it to fruition.
Ultimately all I wanted to say to each of you is this: the work you’ve put in is not worthless, it’s great. I believe in you and if you are in need of encouragement I hope this helped. If you need more specific encouragement tailored to something you’re going through, never hesitate to contact me directly because I’m here for you. You should never feel as though what you are creating lacks value because your perspective needs to be shared, the world needs it so don’t hold back. Also, for those of you who are in need of some sort of mentorship, or 1-on-1 training, feel free to contact me as well. I’m always willing to help and depending on what you need we can work something out. Don’t doubt yourself or your work. If no one has expressed that they want to see it, I DO! Send it to me, let’s talk art, and if I’m ever in your city, let’s link and talk art.
Today I turn 26, in all honesty, I never thought I would make it to this one. I’ve wondered many times in life just had it out for me and at times I’ve wondered if I’ve had it out for myself. A desire for growth, to see myself become better has lead to me finding ways to overcome. Now, of course, there’s legitimately no reason at this point to go back to the beginning of my own history and recap the manner instances when I could have very well met my end.
Rather that, I think it’s important that I speak on somethings that have been weighing me recently. Every year around this time I go through heavy moments of overthinking. Thoughts of whether or not any of this is worthwhile. Thoughts of pain, fear, and some heartache. When I was younger the overthinking was more geared towards my fears, but as I’ve grown up they’ve become more geared towards how I can really make a difference in this world. The question I always find myself asking, is how can I make a difference in this world if I can’t even make a difference within myself? Over the years this week leading up to my birthday has become one of, if not the hardest week of the year for me. This year has been especially hard, here’s why. Two years ago, I found myself in the midst of a verbally and nearly physically abusive relationship, I found myself consistently making a laundry list of excuses for her. I eventually found myself at a point where I began to think that it was my fault. That lead to me beginning to believe that I deserved it. I lost all confidence in everything, I lost my trust as freely, in many ways I let her break me, but really, in the end, I was the one hurting myself. I just couldn’t let go. Those thoughts of worthlessness and hurt festered, I was falling apart. A week before my 24th birthday something changed. For months I had this reoccurring thought, if I was just gone one day would anyone miss me. I had honestly convinced myself that for the most part, no one did. I mean if someone could say they cared about me, and treat me like garbage then did I have any value. These feelings were compounded by two other outside factors. First, I had tried so hard for the three years prior to being involved in church, to be apart of a family, to be able to not only give love but to be loved. Instead, the church chewed me up and spit me out. Pastors passed me around like an object that was only worth something as long as I was willing to give with reckless abandon, even when I had nothing left. The second thing also came from the church, being broken in the church is a concept, but when it’s actually right in front of its face all they know how to do is smile, nod, and spout a cliche. Then quickly turn to someone else and talk about that broken person behind their back. Never once actually taking the time to really show that love that is clearly only spoken of in theory, but is so seldom practiced.
Two weeks before I turned 24, I sat in the car alone continuing to contemplate my worth. I remember it all so vividly. I drove past the hospital towards the light. I looked up, all the colors around me were so saturated, it was so odd. I got to the light, it turned red, I looked to my left and I saw a car speeding toward the intersection. At that moment a thought entered my head, and honestly, I have no idea where it came from. I was suddenly thinking, you could just pull out into the intersection and I wouldn’t have to feel anymore. I fought myself internally, I was in tears, and honestly, my foot left the break for a moment. I almost let myself go into autopilot, but something stopped me. I just wanted the pain to go away, I didn’t want to be alone anymore. The thing about these types of thoughts is that they may take a break, but they always come back and when they do it always worse than the last time. Of course, that year didn’t get any better from there. From that point on I lost a childhood friend and my grandmother all within a month, which left me wondering if I even wanted to create any more, at that point I nearly sold my camera. While 24 was marked by those troubles, I overcame those thoughts on my own, that alongside one night that I found myself deep in prayer. I fought through it alone, sometimes I can’t believe I made it through.
While 24 dragged on, 25 seemingly has flown by, honestly, it hasn’t felt like the most special of years. It truly did fly by, I looked down and it was March, I looked up and it was suddenly December. My first back in school had just ended and I was ready for Christmas break. What’s crazy is that this was very nearly my last Christmas break.
I was in Atlanta visiting some friends and it was getting late. I wasn’t running on much sleep, I know that I couldn’t make the trip to Orlando on the three hours of sleep. So there I was in a part of Atlanta that I had never been to waiting for a friend. When a car pulls up behind me and shines it brights on me. I honestly wasn’t sure why they pulled up on me, but I figured hey maybe I’m not supposed to be parked on this side of the street, maybe I need to move. So I reason, let me move from the side of the street closer to my friend’s house. I did just that, while I was parking, I was on the phone with a friend of mine because I honestly wasn’t sure what I was doing and why the homie was taking so long to get in the area. As I sat and spoke with my friend, a car suddenly sped up behind me with its brights on, it stopped super close to the back of my car. I initially thought to myself, well hey maybe she’s finally here. But that thought quickly was replaced by the color being completely drained from my skin. Just as I thought well maybe I should pull away, another car pulled up in front of my car at an angle effectively blocking me in. Cause at that moment I saw a sight that I never really thought I would ever be privy to. There at my window was a man with a gun. He began yelling and threatening me. He forced me out of the car, took my wallet and pushed me along. As I walked around to the back of my car with the gun still on me, another man got out of the car. As I walked they continued to ask me rapid-fire questions, such as Who are you? Why are you here? Who are you visiting? Why did you turn around? And no matter what I said they didn’t believe, in fact, things seemed to be escalating, they forced me to walk to the door of the house and knock on the door. All the while my friend was on the phone wondering if I would make it out. As I knocked on the door they held the gun to my head, there was no answer. Honestly, I was panicking, so I just started sharing all kinds of random details. I mentioned that I was coming from a Christian school on winter break, that I was just getting ready to head home to see my family, that I just really didn’t want any trouble. In the midst of the guy I mentioned spoke and what he said was the biggest relief. He said, “ you can get in your car and leave, don’t come back here, but you can leave.”
There were other minor details about that night, but the point is this, I honestly thought that was my final night alive, and when I thought about it at that moment. I wasn’t ready to die, honestly, I have so much that I want to do before I reach that day. As I enter this new year, I have a long list of ideas and shoots that I hope to make happen this year. I know that I may not have the chance to bring each concept to life, this year, but I’m not giving up on myself ever again. The point of what seems like rambling to me is this. Things may look bleak, and you may not see the light at the end of the tunnel, but you can’t give up. And if you are feeling as though you aren’t loved and valued, it’s important that you talk to someone, if you have no one near you, reach out to me, I’d love to be there for you in any way I could possibly be there. Let me be of encouragement to any and all of you. I really do appreciate each and every one of you. You all give me the nudge to keep pushing forward, I just hope I can make the difference that I know is possible.