Talking to Alyssa Edwards validated so many of my own thoughts and ideas on success, the secrets to success, and living a creative life.
BIG HINT: It’s not what you think!!!
Tea time! i used to feel REALLY bad for thinking i wanted to be more than just a drag queen — or writer. Like i was somehow selling out everyone else in the industry and invalidating what they were doing and their hard work by using those words, “more than.”
i believed if i said out loud i wanted to be more than just a drag queen, that i was devaluing the experience and existence of those who REALLY REALLY wanted to do drag but felt like they couldn’t (read: pretty much any cis-female who feels called to the art form) or didn’t have access to the community and resources like i did.
Along those same lines, i believed if i said out loud i wanted to be more than a writer, that i was somehow being ungrateful for all the amazing writing opportunities that i’ve had and created for myself. And, once again, devaluing someone else’s desire, experiences, and resources to be a published full-time freelance writer.
The problem with my above beliefs wasn’t that i was having them (all our feelings are totally valid for a full and rich 360-degree experience as humans). The problem was that my feelings and beliefs were rooted in someone else’s experience and not my own.
And that’s like death to a creative 101.
And yet here i am a billion years into my career as a creative still associating my personal growth, my career, desires, goals, and dreams with how that’s going to affect and make others feel.
That was the space i was in when the PR department at TAZO Tea contacted me to chat with Alyssa about her latest brand collaboration with them called Camp TAZO. Of course, i jumped at the opportunity to have a creative heart to heart with her. Because let’s face it, Alyssa Edwards is a motherfucking BEAST who has taken her Drag Race fame and turned into gold — none of which would have happened if she hadn’t been working her ass off long before all these amazing opportunities and platforms came her way.
And for all creative entrepreneurs, writers, drag artists, [insert anyone trying to make a name for themselves doing what they love], the struggle of continuing to do the work when it feels like no one is listening, reading, or watching, or in that sinking gut feeling that’s it’s never going to happen for us, is real.
So is feeling like our desires to do better somehow puts us at risk of not valuing other people’s dreams and desires to be exactly where we are.
The truth is if we want to be the next big thing, we’ve got to dream bigger and do the work that bigness requires of us.
And the first step is hardest.
But believing we are MORE THAN is imperative to our survival and growth as artists (and humans).
Like i said in the above, the idea of wanting to be more than what i was left me feeling selfish and ungrateful — something i think all of us struggle with. But i also think this convolution of our desire for growth and selfishness is the birthplace of the issue. And yet, it’s something we do all the time. We beat ourselves up for wanting down time to take care of ourselves. We chastise ourselves for being too selfish when we want that glitter Lush bath bomb for an evening of wine and self-care. We feel guilty for even thinking (much less actually wanting and creating) time away from our spouses, family, and friends. These kinds of me-time focused desires that take away from the unit are often seen as an act of selfishness.
But this is a trope we have to break free from if we’re going to survive as creatives and spread our art and voices into the world.
Because the reality is we all KNOW we have to put on our own oxygen mask on first before we put on anyone else’s. We understand that while we are on the plane, yet that same wisdom does not carry over into our everyday lives. We all KNOW we can’t help others get oxygen if we are ourselves are suffocating — and that’s not being selfish. Neither is wanting to put yourself first, of wanting to be more than who/what we are now. That’s being honest about the deep internal work that has to take place within ourselves before we can help or love anyone else.
“If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you going to love someone else?”
is RuPaul’s tagline at the end of every Drag Race episode.
And the root of self-love is accepting and allowing ourselves to shed our own skin time after time so we can keep growing into who we need to be.
A snake sheds its skin two to four times per year.
We should too.
But we also have to protect our magic.
i literally JUST said this to my friend the other day. The best way we can honor ourselves and our journey is to protect ourselves — whether it’s from other people’s bullshit or your own beliefs and fears of what others might be thinking (like me). We have to protect ourselves, our work, and our art.
We have to protect our magic.
And trust, there are going to be a lot of people along our way to the top that will try to break us down, try to stop us in our tracks to becoming our full selves. Sometimes it’s fear that motivates haters. Sometimes it’s jealousy — you are making money moves and daring to do things that most people wouldn’t even dare to dream. But more often than not, it’s because your success and your growth makes people look at their life and evaluate what they are (and are not) doing with their own. Our successes turn a mirror and a spotlight on other people’s lack of success and “failures.” But the reality is these people are only still failing because they haven’t learned or chosen to do anything — to grow — from the lessons failure brings.
In episode 14 of The Drag Show Podcast on drag, magic, and tarot, Tatiana Mala-Niña and i talk about how to protect and block your energy. The practice she walks us through works for everyone — not just drag queens and performers. i highly recommend you give it a listen.
And we need places to restore our magic and rejuvenate our many selves.
We ALL need our own sacred spaces that we can hole up in and rejuvenate ourselves, feed our souls, and just be. We all need that space that balances all the crazy that surrounds us. For some, that’s their home. For others, it’s a blank canvas. For Virginia Woolf, it was a room of her own.
For me, it started off as one thing and is transforming into another. i’ve been some variation of a dancer/performer for the last 34 years of my life. And like Alyssa, the studio and the creative process has been my reprieve, my balance, the place where everything else in my life melted away.
But lately, i’ve found more and more comfort from the blank page. This space has been my punching bag, my best friend, my lover, my frenemy, my dragon, my wonderland, my Oz.
i tell all my clients the most important thing they can ever do for themselves and their art is to find those spaces that light them up, that balance them out, that make them feel one with the universe, but also one with themselves — and then show up in that space daily.
That last part is the most important. Having a space and actually showing up to the space are two totally different things with two totally different results.
And creating our art daily is a habit that will ultimately lead to living our purpose.
The studio led Justin to drag and drag to Alyssa. And it was the was the marriage of Alyssa’s sides that led to Justin to success.
The same kind of marriage of all our selves is available to us.
For me that marriage looks like: drag artist, writer, creative coach, and activist all rolled up and served up to mi gente and my community in one.
For you it might look like: creative, entrepreneur, full-time [job-title], and mom to four-legged kids.
Or something else.
The point is that real, true, and authentic success — the kind that feeds every part of ourselves — comes from our intersections — not our starting points.
Success lies in the integration of our selves
After my conversation with Alyssa, i realized that i intuitively knew all of this. i just needed someone to jumpstart the reminder that i already knew. But perhaps even more importantly i already knew what i had to do to continue along my success path.
i needed to give myself permission to grow into that more than — and the space to do that internal work without anyone watching.
Every day we wake up with the choice to live as we are or as who we want to be. Everyday i choose the latter. Some days (like today) it’s harder. Other days it feels like a warm glitter Lush bath-bomb bath and a glass of my favorite red.
In the end, success for me is a choice to live, create, and be in the intersection of myself. i am blessed to be both a drag queen and a writer.
And to want to be something more.
So are you.
But it’s a delicate balance we as privileged beings need to remember: Grateful for what we have; grateful for the drive and desire of the future.
But a step along our path to integrated success nonetheless.
New Year. Best You.
As we close out the year, i want to invite you to join me in a brand new goal planning + implementing journey and beta group coaching i’m offering for 2019 called New Year. Best You (NY/BY). NY/BY is a New Year goal setting workbook & reveiw AND a full immersive experience based on my own personal end-of-year process that is all about goal setting + implementing in a way that is transformational for you — and the world. It’s also your first and only opportunity to work with me for an entire year FOR FREE. i’m excited to help you reimagine and redesign not only what your New Year goal setting ritual looks like, but what your whole year will feel and be like — and who you will be in it.
Find out more about the holiday sale launch of New Year. Best You + how you can get group coaching with me for free in 2019 HERE
And don’t forget to check out the episode that inspired all the above, my conversation with Alyssa Edwards here
Lots of holiday love + light your way!