Trust your work. I have that phrase saved as the background on my phone because it’s so hard for me to do (because I waiver from being extremely grounded in my work and then feeling like it’s the most frivolous thing the next day)!
I do soul work to return to a grounded place with my work. As apart of what I call “soul work,” (meditations, cleanses/ fasts, prayer, etc.) I’ve been doing Balade’s Black super incredible “At the Crossroads Find Your Purpose” in conjunction with Chief Luisah Teish. In one of the prompts I had to write down all of my experiences of oppression, how they impacted me, and what I had internalized because of them. Once completed, I went to a place in nature (read Central Park) and honored those experiences for what they taught me and then burned them as a sacrifice. While using the power of fire I transformed these past experiences and cleared a way for new experiences, behaviors, shifts in consciousness. I won’t talk about how I almost burnt down Central Park BUT what I will say is what I learned from this activity. I realized the common theme of them all- not being heard, seen or valued.
This was especially true when I wrote about my sexual assault. Because it happened with my boyfriend, someone I loved and trusted, it was a particularly painful act of oppression, as it was much more personal than the other experiences. After having an innumerable amount of conversations about me not wanting to have sex, he did what he wanted, completely ignoring everything I had said. I can identify this specific moment in which I began to believe that what I needed was not important. And afterwards, my thoughts shifted; why even express my needs, desires and wants, if they were simply going to ignored anyways? Why even bother claiming what I wanted or knew? No one else, not even my partner, seemed to care, so what’s the point? While writing all these down things and realized….
that I had been dragging this feeling of not being heard nor valued around with me since I was teenager.
And though this is just one experience, is a common feeling for black people or other POC, women, undocumented folks, differently abled people, or queer or trans people, or any mixture of these groups (and probably many more I’m missing). We are constantly told that we do not matter, that our stories are unimportant or that we are just being dramatic, etc. So how do we combat that?
For me, it’s my work. Redoing this website and actually sharing it was a HUGE part of that. In fact, I had started this in 2014 and only shared with a few people; namely like five of my friends because I didn’t think anyone else would care. (On the contrary, many people have reached out to me with such kind words and letting me know that my writing is in fact touching people, which is super super exciting!)
I am slowly, but surely, learning how to trust my work, my weird pole dancing, music making, and artist managing work. And as a result, I am learning how to trust myself, my story, and know in every fiber of my being just how important I am, and how important I have always been. And to be quite frank, it’s extremelyyy scary, but worth it.
By fully learning how to trust myself, my voice, and my story I have been able to meet and connect with more people who are owning their own stories. Perfect example of this was meeting Nicole Shante, an incredible poet, who I co-performed with on a piece titled #iftheygunnedmedown, about the police brutality and murdering of black people, which I’ve included above. She performed poetry while I danced. I freestyled the whole performance, being guided only be her words. She was the conductor of my movement. The merging of our stories created a moment that transcended both Nicole and I, and provided healing for everyone in the space.
(Sidenote: Though it wasn’t our intention, we both got opportunities to do more paid work in the future from this performance, which is another testament standing firm in one’s work. You believe, and other’s believe.)
In fact, doing my work, in the face of those unforgiving messages of self sabotage thoughts creep in about my work (as is in it not being important or being selfish, etc.) is a very clear way of me actively pushing back against all the bullshit I’ve been taught about not being valuable. Constantly creating, building, and doing my work, even when I’m unsure about it’s worth is a direct response that sooo many of us have gotten- that we are not nor ever will be valuable. But we are. And is our work.
So, carry on, do your work and share it. Someone needs it.