My mother believed with all her might that whatever one was doing at the stroke of midnight on the first day of the New Year, you’d be doing for the next 364 days later. For some reason, I believed her, too. Still do. And so you could always rest assured that when the ball dropped and the confetti swirled and the kisses flew and the band queued Auld Lang Syne, I would be surrounded by family and friends (so that I would be assured love), smiling (so that I could spend the year happy), in a clean, orderly house (because who wants to spend 365 days in muck?), with a refrigerator full of food (so that our tummies would always be full), and my business in order (self-explanatory).
I was cocky last year—confident that I wouldn’t have a repeat of what turned out to be a professionally disastrous 2011. And, for the most part, I lived up to the ambitious promises I made myself: MyBrownBaby did reasonably well, I wrote two books, and a third, the result of a deal made last summer, is in the works.
Still, January 1, 2013 feels… different. I walk into it a little off-balance. Nervous. And a little scared. Because I’m in the middle of a project that is new to me—that stretches my brain and my boundaries and comes with expectations that, if not met, would leave others sorely disappointed in me. I’d be disappointed in me, too.
And so I’ve been struggling. Not with the work—that’ll get done. But with the outcome. The “what people will think” thing. I feel like I’ve been holding my breath for months now—anxious. Some days, I feel like I can’t breathe. I assure myself that it’ll be okay. Repeatedly. Ultimately, I know it will. The getting there is the tough part, though. The believing it, tougher.
But last night, as the minutes drew closer to the end of 2012 and signaled the imminent arrival of 2013, I was thinking about my mother and what she believed about the first moments of the New Year. And with that on my mind, I made the point of playing over and over in my head a song that’s been getting me through: Bilal’s “Sometimes,” from his debut album, 1st Born Second. In the piece, Bilal laments his relationships with his woman, his people and, above all things, himself, wishing all the way that things were just, like, different “sometimes.” While I love everything about the song—the lyrics, Bilal’s voice and delivery, the music—it is the end of the song that moves me to, like, “Sunday church choir happy” levels. That makes me want to shout. Makes me square my shoulders and hold my chin up and believe. Witness:
Oh sometimes, sing it with me I wish
(I wish in love) And I wish, oh I wish
(I wish in peace) Oh sometimes
(I wish in hope) I wish hope
(I wish true) I wish true
(I wish clearly) Hey I wish so clearly sometimes
(Wish with no fear) I wish with no fear
(I have no fear) I have no fear
(Have no doubt) I have no doubt
(I don’t doubt) I don’t doubt
(Have no doubt) No, I don’t doubt
(Have no doubt, I wish love)
I wish love, hey hey…
I wish with no fear. I have no doubt.
At the stroke of midnight, this is what I told myself.
And I believe.
Happy New Year, everyone. In 2013, wish with no fear—have no doubt.