Last Tuesday, I heard a certain Beyoncé song for the first time. (Yes, that last Tuesday- i.e. Apocalypse Election Day 2016, and, yes, I also can’t believe that there’s a Beyoncé song that I haven’t heard yet.)
Apparently it’s a popular one. The chorus is quite repetitive and easy to memorize: “A diva is the female version of a hustler.” If you’ve heard it, just reading that sentence will probably get it stuck in your head for the rest of the day. I refuse to apologize for that.
I have a feeling last Tuesday will become one of Those Days. “Those Days” being: I remember what I was wearing, where I was, and the stupid drama I was thinking about (other examples of Those Days, at least for me, include 9/11 and when Michael Jackson died).
Last Tuesday, I was wearing a yellow skirt covered in a pattern of little black umbrellas. I was outside of my school’s dining hall. I was thinking about stupid drama.
Across from the door of the dining hall, a club had set up a table to encourage students to go vote. They were offering free pizza for voters, and playing loud, fun, pop music. At this hour of the day, it was already getting dark, as it is wont to do this late in the season. After assuring some enthusiastic tablers that yes, I did vote, and no, I did not want any pizza, that certain Beyoncé song came on. My entire walk home I could hear it. It was freaking empowering.
Let me set the scene. I had managed to go to class that day, which has been a bit of a challenge lately due to the mono thing. My hair was in a high ponytail, which always feels really powerful for some reason (probably because it sways and bounces like a goddamn pendulum when I walk and makes me feel like a goddamn haute couture model). For the first time in weeks, I was on top of my shit. I felt like a diva.
Of course, when I woke up the next morning to the horrific results of the election, I was kicked down a few notches. But more on that later.
After the initial high had dissipated, I got to thinking about what a diva actually is. Despite feeling like one, I honestly had/have no idea. We all know Beyonce’s definition, as she repeats it several times in the course of a three-minute track. A quick Google search gave me a wealth of options: A diva is a famous female opera singer, a famous female singer of popular music, or a woman regarded as temperamental or haughty.
I definitely relate to one of these definitions. It’s like that game, two lies and a truth—or is it two truths and a lie? (Here’s a hint: as much as I love karaoke, my singing voice is nothing to write to Simon Cowell about. Is this an outdated reference? I kind of miss American Idol though.)
Note: You know how there’s usually an example of the word used in a sentence alongside dictionary definitions? The sentence corresponding to the temperamental/haughty diva is “she’s such a diva that she won’t enter a restaurant until they change the pictures on the walls to her liking.” Is it just me or does that seem like a really low-effort example? Like, come on. You could’ve had fun with this one.
Urban Dictionary’s definitions (and example sentences for that matter) are significantly more interesting, though they range from really negative to, well, really positive. I’m not interested in a word used to describe powerful women having sexist undertones, though, so honestly I’m just ignoring most of them. Appropriately, my sentiment in the last sentence is very diva-ish (according to my research, anyway).
Basically, a diva knows what she wants, isn’t afraid to go for it, doesn’t sweat the haters, and manages to do all of the above with grace and class.
So pretty much exactly who I want to be, but have a really hard time being.
I know what I want (sometimes). I’m not afraid to go for it (usually). But, man, I sweat the haters. I do. And as much as I try to have grace and class in all situations, I’m only human.
Beyoncé really doesn’t seem like she sweats the haters. And if she did, it would be in a sauna with a ton of nice-smelling oils and shit. How does she do it? How do I live the Beyoncé lifestyle with less money, less social media followers, less carefree coolness?
That’s probably the problem, right there. I don’t need any of those things (I mean, I do need enough money to survive, but not Chanel wardrobe money). I’m so worried about what I don’t have, so fixated on how I could be different, that I’m not playing on my strengths.
Sure, some days, it feels like my only strength is the ability to breathe involuntarily. But those days are few and far between, and usually I’m being oversensitive, or overreacting, or overthinking, or all three at once.
In times like these, can anyone really afford the selfishness and narcissism that comes with doing you, for you, all day long? There’s so much to do, to read, to write. There are so many people who need the attention of those who have enough time/resources to worry about these things (i.e. me).
But at the same time, is it really that selfish or narcissistic to go for your dreams and ignore the critics? The jury is still out on that one. Until then, I’ll just keep trying. Trying what, I don’t know; it changes day-to-day, and sometimes I can’t pinpoint what I need to do or how to do it.
But as long as I just keep on, acknowledging the little haters in my head and in my life while letting them roll off my back, doing what I can for my fellow humans, cutting myself and the people around me a little slack, and letting my ponytail swing to powerful divas singing about being a powerful diva, I feel like, at least for now, I’m not doing nothing.