Last month Beyoncé had the (social) media buzzing with the leak of two new snippets compiled as a track titled “Bow Down/I Been On.” In the H-town Chopped & Screwed inspired track Beyoncé slickly sings lyrics filled with bravado and confidence stating how much of an influence she is to the music industry and how haters should respect her success. Despite people’s disdain for the record, I listened and loved the track and it’s since been on heavy rotation. What has interested me the most about this song is not it’s lyrical content but people’s responses to Bey Bey’s bravado. When I heard the song I was inspired by Beyoncé, not necessarily for her delivery or the quality of the song, but for the fact that she was willing to openly acknowledge her achievements, something that people, especially women, rarely do.
It’s interesting to see how many people have taken this song as a personal attack against them. On Twitter and Facebook I’ve seen comments ranging from hilariously sarcastic to outright rage, hell even Keyshia Cole went on a twitter rant about the song. I’ve also read lots of blog posts stating that Beyoncé is arrogant and that she just wants everyone to bow down to her. All of the uproar made me ponder, “What is it about a person exhibiting self-confidence, celebrating their achievements, or just asking for people to respect their hard work that makes others so uncomfortable?”
Now let me be clear this is not a post defending Beyoncé and this song. I don’t condone arrogance, Beyoncé calling someone a bitch, and I am most certainly NOT a Bey Stan (No judgements on those who are.) Nor am I here saying that if you’re offended by “Bow Down” that your feelings are invalid. I am simply here observing people’s reactions to a celebration of self. Beyoncé is beautiful, extremely talented, and from the looks of her HBO special “Life is But a Dream” blessed to be experiencing the life she is living after years of hard work in the music industry. Regardless of how dedicated to her craft she’s been during most of her years in the business, she’s often met with an extreme amount of hate, jealousy, and negative criticism from all sides. From what I know, I could be wrong though, Beyoncé has been more of a quiet and humble character when it comes to who she is and what she does. She’s passionate but she’s mostly celebrated by her peers and notably her devoted fans. Until recently Beyoncé has resisted acknowledging her prowess but seems to now embrace the greatness that she’s earned. So why are people not allowed to celebrate their greatness?
It’s a trend that I’ve noticed a lot more listening and following the lives of other great individuals. It seems as if it’s completely OK for other people to say you’re great but for you to say or even dare believe that you’re great at something or working to craft yourself to be great, you’re immediately seen as cocky, conceited and self-centered. When did this come about? It boggles my mind, especially if the person can back up their words with their efforts. Do we always have to allow others to speak for us about how great we are? As a person who is currently trying to live out my own dreams, that is something I think about. Trying to find a balance between humility and sharing my achievements. It’s hard to muster up the courage to put myself out there, to tell people what I’m working on or even share a tidbit of the greatness that I want to see for my own life. It’s even hard for me to celebrate my achievements because I don’t want to be seen as someone who “thinks they’re better” or “arrogant” for wanting to reach a certain level of accomplishment, and unfortunately I know I’m not alone in this.
I know so many people who are working or achieved things that they should be tremendously proud of. They have businesses, resources, ideas or gifts that could benefit the world but they are iffy about sharing it. I always encourage them to put themselves out there but in a society where people are hated on for achievement, it’s hard to celebrate yourself. We often resort to playing small to make others feel comfortable. What’s worse is that we don’t think our dreams and accomplishments could positively impact others to find and live out their passions. So I want to change that. I’m going to share some of my struggles as well as things I’ve learned about celebrating the self in the next post on TheUrbanRealist.com. But to close out let me share a part of a prayer I recently read that really touched on this subject:
“Let me have a new sense of purpose. Let me know that I am on this earth to serve. Let me not feel guilty about the expression of my power, Let me no longer play small, regardless of other people’s reactions to me when I play big.”- Marianne Williamson, From the book Illuminata: A Return to Prayer.
I encourage all of you to play big in your lives because you only have one. Don’t continue to make yourselves small just to make others comfortable. Live a life of purpose, find your passions, utilize your gifts, and share them with the world. You’ll never know how your life achievements can positively impact those who are watching you.