March 7, 2023
On Performances, People-Pleasing, and Personal Transformations
Rihanna has stolen the entire show this week, starting with her baby shower (aka the Super Bowl) and then her new British Vogue cover and interview.
And she’s living rent free in my head right now because the conversations that followed Fenty Bowl have me thinking about a lot of things regarding expectations, womanhood, and our culture of exhaustion. I’m writing this myself while on 4 hours of sleep.
SO many people had something to say about somebody performing a halftime show for the biggest and most popular sporting event in the entire country, when the highlight of their Sunday was bringing the wings from the kitchen to the living room table.
Which brings me to…
People who are raggedy in major ways need to have less audacity to critique folks.
The internet won’t stop bewildering me, because people will get on it, and fix their faces to say all sorts of BS. You get on Twitter or Reddit on any day and you’ll find men who look like God’s work on a lazy Sabbath, coming on Blue Ivy’s internet to talk crazy about women’s looks. You’ll see them acting like they were raised by wolves. Sir, until you stop looking like “God just be making anything” you should go face the corner. 😒
This week’s conversation around Rihanna’s Super Bowl performance continues to illuminate how the people who shouldn’t have the nerve will find it, to say what someone is doing is not enough.
I really don’t wanna hear that she didn’t do enough during her Super Bowl performance from anyone that gets a cold and thinks the Bubonic Plague got them. This woman is pregnant, performed and danced for 13 minutes while suspended 100 feet in the air. And we seen it in 4K. BUT YOU WANT MORE FROM HER?!?!?!?!
The one thing I see on these interwebs above anything else, is audacity and unmitigated gall, from people who really shouldn’t have so much of it. Meanwhile, the most thoughtful, dope people are the ones doubting themselves.
For real. Audacity is TOO FREE for daft people and I hate to see it. That’s why I believe…
You don’t owe the world the best of you always.
Excellence is a core value of mine. I wanna show up in the best possible way whenever I can, and do the best work I can whenever I can. And doing that has opened doors for me, but it has also stressed me out. I’m a lifelong perfectionist.
Watching Rihanna on that Super Bowl stage unlocked something. I loved her performance. I loved her costumes. I loved all 13 minutes. And she did just enough of what she needed to. Nothing more. Pregnant and 9 months postpartum, Ri got on a floating ramp and spent 13 minutes singing, dancing a little and giving pure unbothered vibes. I LOVED IT. Because she refused to over-exert herself but she was still magical.
Some people looked at it, and called it “boring.” Because she refused to overfunction. There weren’t any costume changes, special guests, or super deep choreography. She said “Y’all gon get these 2-steps and my fierce face and reminders that I got HITS ON HITS and y’all gon leave me alone.”
And people who ain’t pay ONE DIME for her performance complained. It has me thinking of how we will spend our lives trying to be the best at all times, and people will still say we didn’t do enough. It’s a reminder that we don’t owe the world our constant drudgery, cuz often, we can put it all on the line and folks will still say it wasn’t enough.
Excellence and perfectionism don’t happen without overfunctioning, and how do we do that without it breaking our backs? I’m starting to realize: maybe we can’t.
Sometimes, it’s okay to show up knowing we have just enough. Because our purpose on this Earth is not to people-please our way into bent backs.
At the end of our lives, the question we are going to be asking ourselves is not “who did we please?” (because humans are fickle AF). It should be “Did I please myself?”
That is why this week’s recommendation is so personal and so right for this moment.
Read THE URGENT LIFE: My Story of Love, Loss, and Survival by Bozoma Saint John.
Who are we when we really own our purpose, shirking others’ expectations of us? Who can we be and what can our lives look like when led with our own gut, not the map others have laid out for us? How do we honor the fragility of life with gumption? 🤔
Someone who marches to the beat of her own drum is Hall of Fame marketer Bozoma Saint John. She also happens to be one of my best friends. 🙏🏾 And she’s written a book that speaks so much to what I’ve been reflecting on lately, on confidence, courage and color indeed.
When she decided to write a book, I’m sure people thought it’d be about marketing or business. Nope. My girl said she wanted to tell the story of her life that led her to being the person who walks into a room, 6 feet tall, in 5 inch heels and a giant afro, refusing to bow to folks whims.
She wrote THE URGENT LIFE instead. And it’s a memoir, and the title is a mantra she adopted when her husband, Peter, died of cancer. All the losses she faced sharpened her vision and gave her perspective, that every day must be lived with exigency.
And MY GOD this book. I read it in one sitting, on a Saturday, cuz I couldn’t let it go. And I was sending her texts as I went along.
This book is a FREEDOM memoir. It is a battle cry for personal transformation in the midst of tragedy. Because Boz’s life today is a revolution, a miracle and a testimony. The peacock she shows up as in the world is against all odds. Her story is of hard choices she had to make even if it only made sense to her, and how living an urgent life means following your own path today. 🥺
To read THE URGENT LIFE is to get 1,000 reasons why Boz spreads her wings without apology, ceaselessly. Life has given her 1,000 reasons to cower, to bend, to break. Life has shown her its lowest valleys, and taunted her with the deepest losses. But what does Boz do? She stands up, head held high, against all odds.
This is the book that will get someone out of bed, out of the dark and back into the light of life. So yes, I am recommending that you preorder THE URGENT LIFE. It drops on Tuesday, February 21st. It’s available as a physical book and an audiobook. If you’d like to hear Bozoma narrate her own memoir, you can sign up for Audiobooks here.
This is a book we all need to pick our spirits up when they’ve been stomped on.
Grab this book and bring tissues.
Disclaimer: I receive commissions for purchases made through some of the links in this newsletter. All thoughts and vouching are mine. I keep it 💯!
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Luvvie Ajayi Jones is a three-time New York Times bestselling author, speaker and entrepreneur who thrives at the intersection of culture, business and leadership.
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Luvvie has visited over 25 countries, and averaged over 110,000 miles of travel a year. This is a guide to pass on cheat codes she’s learned to create as little chaos as possible while traveling.
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