Always stay ready. Always. As a writer and creative, opportunities to write, perform a poem, or even promote my blog can happen unexpectedly, and it’s devastating when there are moments when I’m not ready. Meeting a legendary Academy Award winner last Saturday, for instance, was completely unexpected, and I still can’t believe I handed Dr. Ruth E. Carter a business card for my blog.
There were times when I thought I should just leave my business cards at home because I didn’t see much of a use for them. When I started The Rina Collective, a few bloggers in a Facebook group suggested that every blogger should have a business card to promote their website and content. I created some, but they collected dust in my room within my first year of blogging. I’m not used to self-promoting, mainly because outside of family and friends, I was rarely asked about my writing. I thought people wouldn’t care, so I never talked about it. It wasn’t until I started working at my current job, people began to ask questions because I was meeting more writers in Boston—that’s when I gained more confidence to represent this website more.
So, about meeting Ruth E. Carter, the first African-American to win an Oscar for Best Costume Design, and who’s worked on films like Black Panther, Malcolm X, School Daze, The Butler, Amistad, and more…I still can’t believe it. Last Saturday, I attended my alma mater’s commencement dinner, and I was representing one of the alumni council members. She was one of the three commencement speakers and honorary degree recipients for Suffolk University. However, I almost left the dinner about an hour before meeting her.
I can’t explain the amount of anxiety I have when I step into a crowded room of people at a formal reception. Walking alone through the hall; passing by groups of people circling around each other, laughing, drinking wine. I’m used to this type of environment since I work in development and I’m constantly around donors, but this time, I’m not with a team. Many of the attendees were members of alumni boards, high-level donors and administrators of the university, and student leaders. The attire was black tie optional, so I wore a black cocktail dress, silver shoes, and makeup that I managed to put together in a short amount of time. Just before arriving to the reception, I attended a 7-hour writing class that made me feel excited about a poem I hope to get published one day.
I managed to find a corner in the hall, and stood there, looking face down on my phone, and eating sharp cheddar cheese and any other appetizer the servers would bring me. I knew eventually the night would get better because I’ll be sitting with my alumni board, and socializing—but small lonely moments like this gets the best of me. There was one time when I attended a poetry event for a poet I knew, and the room was so crowded, that I ended up leaving before I had the chance to say hi to them. My anxiety is that bad, and I hope to figure out what ways I can manage it. Just about two minutes before I was about to leave the party, I remember looking up in front of me after looking around, and there goes one of my former and favorite professors. Him and his wife kept me company for the last 10 minutes of the reception, and I felt great that I didn’t leave. As a matter of fact, my professor is the one who introduced me to Ruth. See how God and the universe works?
To be honest, I wish I had a picture to prove to you and myself that this happened. When he came my table to ask me to come with him, I didn’t have my phone or anything on hand. I knew that I was about to meet someone, but I didn’t catch on to it being Ruth. However, a part of me was more interested in having a conversation that was would surpass a “Hi” or a “can I take a picture?”, and with the help of my professor, I found out about how they knew each other, that she was also a poet, and she asked me about spoken word and information about my blog. Having at least two minutes of her time meant the world to me, and even having the courage to leave and come back to her table to hand her a card, was mind-blowing.
By the way, the blog business card I gave her, was the LAST ONE IN MY PURSE. I just…
Again, always stay ready. That night taught me so much about myself in such a short amount of time, and I feel grateful to even have such experiences to meet and promote. Just the thought of an Academy-Award winner knowing who I am, keeps me inspired and motivated to use my voice. I also will never be in the situation of running out of business cards again, and I feel more proud than ever of this platform I created.