Early this week, someone who I care about disagreed with a decision I made creatively & asked me to rescind. After the discussion, I couldn’t think of any other way to describe how I felt other than small. I’m loud, I’m talkative, I say what’s on my mind, and I do what I want. Are there moments when those parts of my character have negative consequences, ABSOLUTELY. And I spend time overthinking how I can be better next time. When I make creative decisions, I allow myself to be free. I don’t think about other people, I think of myself and my artistic message. Do I think of the impact my creative decisions have, ABSOLUTELY. Do I think about how they will inspire others, ABSOLUTELY. But, ultimately, I make all of my creative decisions for me, because they allow me to breathe in this world.
Joshua Everett, an amazing friend and creative, sent me an amazing collection of essays by Kiese Laymon titled “How to slowly kill yourself and others in America,” and the page I’ve opened today discusses feeling small and I feel so understood.
It reads, “I’m just waking up on the anniversary of Malcolm X’s assassination, the birthday of Nina Simone, and I feel small. I’m not comparing my life’s accomplishments to either of them. I’ve learned enough to stop making that mistake. But I still compare myself to who I think I should be by now and the vision is incomplete.”
Asking creatives to rescind what we produce, takes a bit away from “who [we] think [we] we should be,” it’s an unfair ask and in a lot of ways a selfish one. And like Kiese outlines, many of us already compare ourselves to people and visions that exist and some that we make up ourselves. We don’t need you to shrink us any smaller.
Whether you know me as a friend, colleague, partner, daughter, employee, niece, remember that your role in this world is not to form expectations of me and ask that I live up to them. Your role is to be present with me, in the same way, my role is to be present with you. Should you question me, ABSOLUTELY. Should you encourage me to make my way to a better self, ABSOLUTELY. But, it is never your job or your place to ask that I fit into a mold that benefits you. Do I know all of that bullshit about women who blah blah blah and don’t compromise will end up alone, sure… insert Eartha Kitt laugh.