Updated: Feb 21, 2019
I've never made New Year's resolutions.
By the time I was old enough to even think about resolutions in any meaningful way, I was comfortably settled into the dismissive arrogance of adolescence. I was decidedly not making resolutions because, a) it seemed common and cliché, and b) they only seemed to be about dieting and working out. There's also a prevailing attitude on the internet (if the scathing #NewYearNewMe memes are anything to go by) that no one actually sticks with their resolutions. So the cool thing to do is not make any at all, right?
But I realized that this attitude in and of itself...is a resolution. It's a resolution to not resolve. To not change. To not be successful. It's the equivalent of saying, "I'm not going to even try to achieve anything new this year." And who says that??
So I decided to cast aside my aversion to the idea of changing with the new year. But the hipster in me still wanted to deviate a bit from the traditional idea of resolutions. So instead, encouraged by #InternetCousin Evelyn, I created a motto (or mantra, as she calls it), chose an anthem, and made a vision board for 2019.
This probably jumped out to me the clearest after watching Evelyn's video. She defines [motto] as "a phrase that guides your decision-making." Like her example, I wanted my motto to be something short, sweet, and punchy. Something that's going to be the answer to every self-doubting question I will have this year:
Don't. Stop. Whatever it is, finish it, and let it go wherever it needs to go. Don't get lost in the minutia. Don't get discouraged by the possible outcomes. Don't stop. There's a phrase I've always attributed to the wisdom of the ether, which is: "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." It's something I try to remind myself often when I refuse to let my work be seen because it's never "ready yet." This year it's going to be ready. Because I won't stop until it is.
This was probably the most difficult to settle on. My musical tastes are super varied, and while there are a lot of songs that never fail to get my energy up, I wanted something with a specific message to reinforce my motto.
I Like That - Janelle Monáe
I like that / I don't really give a f*ck if I was just the only one / Who likes that
The reason a lot of my work is never "ready yet" is because I spend an undue amount of time worrying if other people will like or understand it. And the reality is that a lot of people... just won't. But that's okay. The goal isn't, necessarily, to make work that everyone likes or understands. At least, not within my personal projects. The goal is to make work that I'm proud of and trust that the right people will both like and understand it. At the end of the day, what really matters is that I like that.
My Vision (Board)
There's a lot of advice out there about the proper way to make a vision board. I didn't follow any of it.
Ever since I was young, I've loved making collages. That was a large motivation for me to start vision-ing in the first place. And while I'm sure a lot of the tips and tricks out there for vision boards are useful, I know myself well enough to do this part on my own. I wanted to create something with the kind of visual resonance that will actually move me to do what I need to do. So I knew it had to be several things: bold, colorful, and a bit abstract.
Janelle Monáe (and for similar reasons, Tessa Thompson) has special significance in my vision board as a proud bi (and pan) Black woman. Embracing these aspects of my personal journey has been an emotional rollercoaster. After a few transformative experiences in 2018, it feels like I've finally gotten over the massive drop and can start enjoying the ride. And it helps to see women like me doing the same. As has been said, #RepresentationMatters.
The other visuals are a reminder that I want my career to be defined by creative choices, and it's time to start taking action to make that happen. It wasn't until I had finished cutting and pasting that I realized I've got several serious sets of eyes on me, watching, as if to say: "So what's your next move?"
So I guess I've got to keep it movin'.
And that's where I am now. I'm ready to suit up. Speak. Take more risks. Own my future.
It's 2019. Let's do this.