This past weekend, Hannah Beachler made history by becoming the first African-American to win an Oscar for best film production design. It was nice to finally put a face to a design of the box office hit, Black Panther. Part of Hannah’s award speech below praised her family for their support, followed by encouraging creatives to keep pushing towards their dreams. I saved the speech after it resonated with the transition stage of life I’m embarking on.
“I did my best, and my best was good enough,” Hannah shared in her speech. How many of us can honestly say this and confidently mean it? If I’m just honest, I don’t always believe I’m doing enough. My family and friends know that I am close to a perfectionist—from my hairstyles, style of dress, or even academics and career goals. If anything appears slightly off, it’s as if the world is coming to an end when clearly that’s not the case! I am learning to not beat myself up as much and to be content in what I have or give.
Prime example: my present focus is on getting admitted to graduate school and getting a new job These processes excite me while simultaneously brings anxiety. Accepting where I am versus where I want to be is a recurring thought. I hear all the time: “Lex, you are still so young. You have your whole life ahead of you to do what you want.” This is a fact, and so I try to be a little more easygoing and not rush what takes time to blossom. God’s calling on my life is a reminder to appreciate the experiences that have led me to this present time. If something did not turn out the way it was expected to, such as a job opportunity, relationship, or friendship, I can still credit these situations to growth. Because I can say that I learned a lesson, even if at the time I didn’t like the lesson, any season of disappointment is temporary.
Additionally, don’t allow the lack of approval of others to dictate the credit you give yourself. Oftentimes, we look to our families or relationship partners or supervisors to clap for us, but what if they stopped? Or, what if their usual compliments were replaced with harsh critiques with little to no positive feedback? My dad has always taught me, “If I, as your biological father, can’t discourage you, who can?” In other words, validation of your worth is more essential than validation from others.
Hannah recognized this with the set of Black Panther, which led to success. I recognize this in my press to my dreams, which ultimately leads to success. I encourage each of you to stick to your purpose, no matter who sticks by your side and approves. You won’t be an inspiration to everyone, but look in the mirror and be proud of that person that looks back at you.
And lastly, set a standard of excellence, whatever that encompasses. I remember as a child, students in my class would compare grades on various subject tests. In hindsight, this was silly. If you earned an A, you were praised for your intelligence. If you earned a C, you weren’t praised as highly as the “A” students and ignored. Even social media platforms have become comparison tools used to measure excellence. Don’t be deceived: seeing someone advance in a line of work like yours does not make you less than. Their process isn’t yours. Keep working, and know that your best is enough.