October was a beautiful, eventful, often stressful whirlwind. There were so many times that I could have shrunken myself, checked out, or threw the towel in. Instead, I chose over and over to get out of my own way, and show up.
First, I (finally) had my art show, Restorative Joy: Recollecting Black Innocence. After six years of talking about it, I finally did it. My goal was for 100 people to attend my show, and between my in-person and virtual exhibition tickets, I surpassed this goal. What you don’t know is that Restorative Joy was planned and fully executed in only 8 weeks—including the painting. Let me explain: Things came to a head during New York Fashion Week. My husband and I made plans to support a friend of his who was showing his men’s clothing line. After a series of randomly unfortunate events, I decided at the last minute to stay back. Fashion Week was the inflection point where I realized that I could either lose a weekend of potential work time by going to watch someone else realize their dreams, OR I could stay back and invest in my own. I sent my husband on to NYC, dropped my daughter off with her grandparents since the arrangements had been made, and spent the entire weekend holed up in my studio painting and prepping canvases. Little did I know, this was the exact catalyst I needed. That weekend, I consciously decided to put my fear aside and be resolute about having my show.
Every day until the day of my show, I woke up around 5am to paint before my daughter woke up, planned logistics during the day while caring for her, then painted into the night after she was asleep. Honestly, I have no clue how I pulled it off, but I did. Now, I wouldn’t recommend this method to anyone, and I would never repeat this myself, but I knew that in order to pull off the show in the way I envisioned it, I had to go above and beyond just to make my deadline. It felt good to truly put in work for myself rather than someone else. If you’re a recovering people pleaser like me, you’ll go over the river and through the woods to show up for others, then turn around and give yourself half of that effort at best. This brings me to my first point: When given the choice to show up for someone else or show up for yourself, 9 times out of 10, you’re the better choice. CHOOSE YOURSELF.
Shortly after my show, a friend of mine reached out with an offer to sponsor my ticket to a networking event for black women entrepreneurs. I obliged without thinking twice about the social anxiety of showing up alone and feeling like “everyone knows everybody.” I’m so glad I went because I met some amazing women! The energy was infectious, and I only felt awkward like, once. As I told my husband about the event, I started to explain to him how I was so surprised that I was as social, since I typically withdraw around strangers. He retorted, “Why do you keep bringing up the version of you from 2-3 years ago? You don’t “usually” do any of those things anymore because you’re not her anymore.” He was absolutely right. I realized that I was so focused on living in the past that I didn’t even recognize my own evolution. Talking to strangers was no longer uncomfortable for me. In fact, it was filling and affirming. Don’t glorify old versions of who you were. Be present. Show up fully as the person you are today.
Finally, this past Friday, I was invited to return to the space where I had my art show. This time, I would be showing my work at a networking event for professionals in art, tech, and real estate. I hadn’t thought twice about it until the day of when a ‘little rain’ turned into a full-on flood warning with wind advisories and overall muckiness outside. I contacted the organizer, concerned that I might not make it. Ultimately, the weather neither got better nor worse, so I decided to go. Physically getting there was still a struggle, and once I got there, more went wrong. Framed artwork was jumping off the walls, glass was breaking, command strips were revolting, and I was near ready to just pack up and go back home. I thought to myself, “Why am I even here? People don’t come out in the rain anyway.” Still, I was able to calm myself and decided to stay. I successfully hung my art on the walls, donned my Tabitha Brown Halloween costume (because that’s my business), and prepared to let the time pass. Then, people started to show up. The group, though intimate, began to connect and the space came alive. Midway through the event, I was beckoned downstairs because someone had interest in purchasing a piece of artwork. Would you believe that I went downstairs and sold one of my new originals (which had just been shown for the first time two weeks prior) to a wonderful collector? I couldn’t help but to think. “What if I never showed up?” Then I thought even further back to Fashion Week and how if I never showed up for myself THEN, I likely would’ve cancelled my art show and never have been in that space in the first place to turn around and gain a new collector two weeks later!
I share all of this to say that I know showing up, especially for yourself, can be hard. BUT, when you choose yourself, others will choose you back. In summary,
I hope this message helps you to be resolute in showing up for yourself today.
Until next time,
The Resolute Rose
Yewande K. Davis