Adulthood as a Creative

Photo: Chris Ebin Halkyard

Photo: Chris Ebin Halkyard


Time happens whether you're ready or not. Days blend into one another and you find that your body and mind have changed when you weren't looking. It's weird. Adulthood happens, and as creatives we are often late in realizing that we made a choice that was so rebellious, so anti-prescribed narrative that we never bothered to voice the happening. It started when art was a lovable hobby and when it seamlessly became the way you asked questions and provided solutions, you didn't notice. You didn't notice until someone from the outside questioned your "radical." Maybe it was that 10 year high school reunion invitation that reminded you that you don't have children or a mortgage. Or that family member that asks you about work, you mention your survival job, and you can see their faces question your "wasted degree." This place of friction between the worlds often brings flooded feelings of pride, questions of self, and a fog of the unreality of life. This list is an acknowledgement of lessons. 



Mourning and rejoicing in the loss of love

Images courtesy of: Cha'ves Jamall 

Images courtesy of: Cha'ves Jamall 

What role are past relationships supposed to play in our current lives? When I mention a past relationship in conversation, I worry that I'm dwelling, but in the same breath I lived so much life with these persons how could I not reference? They aren't dead or they are, but still they aren't here. The proverbial house we created still exists in my mind but I walk through its halls alone, scavenging for memorabilia to take with me. I own a  boulevard of these homes but I myself live in a small apartment with overflowing shelves of artifacts. Do I live in a cramped room of sour and sweet nostalgia, or do I burn the whole damn thing down and "just get over it" as prescribed?

As artists we have made a commitment to acknowledge the complexities of human emotion. Nothing's yes or no but an opportunity to create destinations out of 'the middle,' that in its best form provides comfort for  yourself and for others. The way you choose to articulate and create is up to you, but you have the right to acknowledge your history. 




The dysphoria of new places/The opacity of former selves

You moved. You changed the rhythm of what you knew. You double-dutched and sang new songs, but then you started watching the ropes and it made you dizzy. So you sat down only to realize the person holding the ropes wasn't the girl from next door, or that kid that got on your nerves but you let him play anyway, it was someone you didn't recognize. This in fact wasn't your backyard and this isn't some sort of long summer break. You won't return to your former life in the fall, and it's not even that you want to return to where you were but you just always thought you'd have the option. Your same eyes view these same places in different ways.  It still feels safe but you can't taste the potential anymore. The optimism that you grew here, that  brought you overseas, that showed you the realities of others, also allowed you to out grow these familial covers. You hover every time you visit and you know your feet will never touch the ground again but that's the price when you decide that international is local. There are no regrets. When you find yourself in these old rooms make sure you hum the tunes you learned on those foreign shores. Whistle these lullabies to your little cousins or that friend longing to deep sea dive but is looking for a breath, and although you are hovering






you're not above them. 






The evolution of faith

God maybe isn't the man they told you he was, and you feel sinful every time you attempt to unpack this  thought.  So you hide it in the back of your mind and only pray when things feel heavy. You don't want to renounce the label completely yet you are fully aware the original description as it was taught to you simply  doesn't apply anymore.  

Your heart tells you that there is truth in the bass, but the melody needs to be rewritten. You don't need to forget the songs. You don't have to forget the stories. In fact take the things that you know to be true and weave them through your approach. It's okay to pray. It's okay to take moments of gratitude to battle frustration. Try to resist taking a final stance and choose to hear the stories of others without judgement. Welcome this place as an ongoing conversation. 




The shape-shifting of your creative

Creativity is language. It has an ever-expanding list of dialects, each one providing nuances in tone and unique advantages in conveying specific emotions. I'll say this plainly: you have no obligation to stay in any one lane. There will always be that starter medium that hooked you. That told you yes. That affirmed your contribution as an artist, but creativity isn't a jealous lover. Challenge yourself to explore new vessels to tell your stories, because the more dialects you speak the more potential you have to reach. 




People do what they can do (but the rest is up to you)


To quote my mother and probably every black woman in America "no one owes you anything". Unfulfilled blind promises with the best intentions will not hold up in a court of law; cannot serve as the reason you didn't get the job, or the reason why your rent is late. We've all had people in our lives who have offered to help but when it came down to it they were nowhere to be found. I used to be hurt by this occurrence because more often than not it wouldn't be a stranger off the street but someone that meant something to me. Someone that wasn't disposable. Someone that maybe even had a history of helping but in that moment they fell short. You can't be mad. People do what they can do and the rest is up to you. I should rephrase 'people do what they can do but PLAN to do it all.' I'm not talking about not trusting others but rather owning the things that you have control over. So when people ARE able to help it feels like a welcomed addition. 




The end of the show


"Thank you ladies and gentlemen for coming out! This was in fact the last performance of me catering to your needs before I consider my own" 

Yes, I'm witty and clever.  I love to laugh and I love to make you laugh but in the same stroke, I will allow my face to voice disgust when injustice is the topic. 

It was so wonderful to be able to see you this evening, and no I will not give a reason for why I'm going home before the next shot. Let me kiss you on the cheek and text you to let you know that I made it home safely, you do the same. 

I'm aware of the characters I created in my extended adolescence that were more "down" than I am today. Those were not false truths but simply projections of the time I was having. Time is a complex system of archives and current systems that work together to build future expansions. Yes, outdated code often needs to be rewritten in order to ensure optimization.

So let's plan for lunch next week, enjoy your evening. 


A breath for gratitude


You aren't always winning, but you aren't always losing either. The sky is big and the bottom of the sea has regions that are still undiscovered. As long as you are breathing there will always be opportunities to find joy. Even when the room is dark and your happiness seems like a hole in the corner of the room the size of a penny. Choose to fit. Finagle your body into that small opening and choose to make it a destination. 




The value of your work has to change but respect for others can't

(You can be the shit, but you can't be an asshole.) 



Your body is yours to love

My body is mine to love.

My body is mine to love.

My body is mine to love.                                                  

Say that to yourself as often as you need to. Repeat it in moments of insecurity, in moments of disrespect and neglect. Your bones, your skin, is your home.