Andie M. Hayes

Author | Artist

Say It A Little Louder for the People in the Back

Today I watched the unveiling of the Obamas' national portraits online at work. It was exciting. Inspiring. Refreshing...especially since I happen to work at a museum that houses one of Amy Sherald's paintings, which also happens to be in the same city that she was born. And that's when I realized something: greatness can come from anywhere; can start from anything; can even be me. 

I'm in the process of writing a memoir. 27 with a memoir, insane, right? But your story is your story no matter how many years it takes to live it, isn't it? Amy Sherald is 44 and I don't know how long it took her to get her first painting in museum, how long it too her to be an international sensation, but knowing that someone from my hometown, someone BLACK from my hometown has accomplished such a feat is more than enough for me. 

I'm trying to make it. I'm not trying to be crazy famous or disgustingly rich, but I am trying to tell my story to the world in the best way I know how. Spilling my soul and hoping the words take. Willing my stories to be the best they can be and you know what? Watching today's unveiling and listening to the speeches of  people that look like me, who have reached and exceeded their goals has shown me that pursuing my dreams is valid. Being an author/painter needs to be more than a dream. It needs to be a goal. Dreams are different from goals. 

I give myself a hard time for being "behind" other people my age. I don't cut myself slack for having a few chronic illnesses when I should, knowing I can't control how my body reacts to them. And I have a tendency to beat myself up for not being "the best" all the time, but I'm learning that things take time; that hard work pays off, but it's not always as quickly as you'd want it to be. 

I spent almost 3 years on my sofa  learning how my body functions now that I have an incurable illness and recovering from a bablyess c section. I wrote and I painted, but I spent more time fighting my body for refusing to do what I wanted it to do. I survived. I lived to see another day and I'm grateful for that. I'm also grateful to learn about other people's struggles and what they had to fight through to get to where they are. Everyone has a struggle to get through and sometimes they come during the "prime" of your life, like mine did. But seeing those 4 Black people on stage this morning (two, artists like myself) was remarkable. It reminded me that sometimes you need a struggle to get where you want to be. Even if that struggle is the color of your skin. 

I don't know what they had to overcome, but I know that getting where they are couldn't have been easy and I know that life happens to everyone. And so I was reminded that even when life happens to you, you can't give up on your dreams