You don't have to compete with your colleagues
This week, I released Win The Internet: The Remix, the second edition of the book I originally published in 2017. I wrote the book with the intention of sharing what I learned about social media as a digital strategist and content creator. With this second edition, I am sharing even more tools, tips and best practices because as the internet and social media evolved in the last two years, so did I. This moment is one that I am very proud of, and I am excited to share the lessons I have learned with my readers. My book has been listed as Amazon’s #1 New Release in three categories this week, including Public Relations. My family and friends have all been super supportive, retweeting, sharing the link to buy my book, and sending the occasional 100 emoji.
But here is a secret I want to let you in on: I almost didn’t re-release my book this week.
Let me explain. In the weeks and months prior to publishing the second edition, my friends, colleagues, homegirls, and other folks I love, admire, and respect had reached a variety of milestones: getting degrees, launching businesses, winning awards, and even publishing their own books. Let me be very clear—I was and am so proud of every single one of my people. And when it is time to celebrate, I am committed to doing the most.
But when it came time to hit “publish,” I started to get cold feet. I started to feel like maybe I didn’t have to publish this book at all. I started to worry that maybe there isn’t room for what I have to offer - especially when other people are offering so much. Maybe I needed to wait a few weeks. Or a few months. Or just say “eff it” and not even try to put myself out there.
And the truth is - I hated even thinking that I had to compete against people I love and respect: for clients, for audiences, for resources. Competition leads to comparison. Comparison is the thief of joy. Comparison leads to violence - physical, emotional, or mental, either against myself or against others. And I didn’t like how that shit felt.
A few nights ago while I was doing my nightly skincare routine, I shared this discomfort with my husband Neal. "I don’t want to compete with these women. I hate feeling like we have to. I want to believe there is room for all us…there is, right?”
As he is apt to do, Neal dropped a truth bomb in my lap: “Babe, you don’t even have to compete with your colleagues necessarily. Maybe you can think of them as your contemporaries.”
He didn’t know it at the time, but that framing shifted my mindset. The basic definition of the word contemporary is a “person or thing living or existing at the same time as another.” But when I look back over history and over my own life, being contemporaries isn’t just about simply existing at the same time. It’s also about living in the same cultural moment while creating magic both individually and collectively.
Take Toni Morrison’s writing group of bold, brilliant Black women writers for instance. Ntozake Shange, June Jordan, Audre Lorde, Alice Walker…all creating some amazing work that pushed Black feminist thought to the forefront. They were all writing ass writers and revolutionaries in their own right, and were even stronger when they supported each other.
Now consider one of my favorite pics from the late 90s hip hop era: this photo of Aaliyah, Lil’ Kim, Missy, and Da Brat. All these dope ass Black women making the music that defined my childhood and teenage years…and not only did they have individual classic albums and their own musical styles, but they had the nerve to drop some dope collaborations at the same damn time. They had the boldness and the audacity to also put each other own and let each other shine.
Lastly, when I think of contemporaries, I also think about not only who we work with but who we enjoy life with. James Baldwin and Lorraine Hansberry were not only changing the world with their writing, they were also experiencing joy together too. Both are equally important and essential to who they were as friends and as artists.
Bottom line: there’s room for all of us. My colleagues success doesn’t diminish my own and vice versa. We all have our own niches, our own magic, and our own mission. I felt those fears of not being able to measure up and “compete” and I published my book anyway, because I realized it took less energy and sparked more joy when I can let the comparisons go and honor the path I have chosen, the path the ancestors blessed before me.
And I am so glad I did.
Grab a copy of Win The Internet The Remix and be sure to tell your friends (and write a review). I am so excited to share my lessons with you!