To paraphrase one of the greats – Poet Laureate Maya Angelou – ‘women are phenomenal’, and on this International Women’s Day I want to radiate positivity and lift anyone up who needs it right now.
I’m lucky to have a broad network of women that I tap in to for a number of things: career advice, emotional support, proof-reading, drinks, yoga-ing, holidaying and everything in-between. They cover all manner of industries, roles and even countries. So I thought I’d do you a solid this IWD and pass on the gift of advice and support that they’ve shared with me.
Here’s what six of the women from my knowledge network had to say when I asked them what advice has helped to shape who they are today.
“Hard work beats talent”
For a long time I thought of things as good or bad: ‘Is this poem good enough? Was that set amazing? Did I kill it with the audience?’ A lecturer once told me about a band that cut their record deal and instead built a subscription with their fan base (made up of around 2K followers). The fan base would pay an annual fee and as a result get an album from the band. The band could create what they wanted, and the fans got the music they wanted. How powerful is that? All they needed were 2K people in THE WORLD who liked what they did in order to create something meaningful.
There are plenty of people who watch movies I think are awful, dance to music I don’t understand, or like YouTube videos I find offensive, for me to know art is subjective. We all have different tastes so it’s not about questioning ‘is this good enough?’ It’s about gaining integrity being the kind of artist I want to be. Curating the audience I want to gather, collaborating with the people I want to work with and grafting hard to get them on board.
“Growth is struggle”
There’s something called the ‘conscious competence matrix’. The concept states that in order to learn and grow we need to have experienced struggle and ignorance. This really helped me see moments where I fail, struggle or feel crap rather as moments of revelation and epiphany, and that these moments are as essential and important as smashing it/winning/succeeding.
Yoga, swim, skate, dance. Connecting with your body enables you to be present, neurologically speaking, and when you’re present it’s impossible to feel things like anxiety (I learnt this from Ruby Wax’s talks on mindfulness). I’ve also found the journey of building physical strength and flexibility a parallel metaphor for me as an artist. To build strength you need to make small breaks in the muscle for it to grow back stronger, but not reach for a weight so heavy you rip the muscle. You also need to breathe and stretch to maintain flexibility in that muscle. As with my art, it hurts to push myself further to write about my trauma, to integrate dance with poetry, to write grime lyrics. But every break, every pain, every deep breath represents progress.
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“A life isn’t measured by what you have, but by what you give”
This is a quote I remember my mum saying, but I’m sure she must heard it from someone. It literally sums up my mum and I will always associate this with her. Her whole life she has been about providing for people, contributing to society, creating things. She is the most generous person I’ve ever come across.
“Done is better than perfect”
Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook’s COO) said this, and it took me so long to truly learn its meaning. For me it’s about letting go of pride, and understanding that sometimes perfectionism can often hold you back. I repeat this to myself about five times a day!
“Always be a little kinder than necessary”
I saw this in an Instagram post from a friend and it’s so true. Especially in these troubled times, the world needs more kindness.
“The early bird catches the worm”
I love this one. So often in life you’re winning, if you only get there early and think ahead!
“Unconditional love means accepting someone for who they are now, not who you hope they will be one day”
I came across this in a book I read called ‘The Wait’, it’s stuck with me because I’ve spent so much time trying to change someone Continue reading