Let me tell you something about Beyoncé that you should already know: we have only been allowed very rare, limited chances to get to know her. And what she tells us, no matter how straightforward her words may seem, never gives us the answers we’re looking for. Never are we sure—without a doubt—of what is actually happening in Beyoncé’s world. Unless we see the expected results ourselves. Example: people not believing she was pregnant, but fully accepting Blue Ivy as the heir to the throne.
So, with Formation and Lemonade, we’re seeing some really raw, direct statements, that we think we can piece together. We feel like we have the truth now. We feel like we know what that song Resentment was about from almost a decade ago. We feel like we know what that fight in the elevator was about. And, if you’re like me, you might be thinking about trading in your portable hot sauce for a small baseball bat. OK, no, I’m never giving up my pepper sauce. But, anyway.
What is amazing to me about Lemonade is how well Beyoncé was able to profit from her pain. Yes, this is the job of any artist—to take emotion and make something tangible from it. We know this. But in this world of Snap-Tweets and Face-Grams, instant headlines and constant speculation, how can someone like Beyoncé live in the spotlight and still have a secret to sell us?
She doesn’t run her mouth. She doesn’t say yes or no every time someone has a question. She isn’t online trying to respond to every, or any, allegation. She gives us her story when she can profit from it the most—when she decides it is useful. You don’t see her sitting down on local news every night discussing rumors. She’s been on Oprah, though. And while she gave us enough in the past to want to ask questions (remember when she dropped Ring The Alarm?) she didn’t give it all to us just then. Learn from that.
Remember though, this is real life pain we’re talking about here. Now, there’s the chance this could all be fiction, she and Hov could have all the happiness and fidelity in the world (we have to leave room for the possibility, right?)—but if Lemonade is anywhere close to her truth, there is a message in how much profit can come from getting hurt.
But you don’t have to be hurt. If you truly live your life, you’ll have a story. And that is something to sell. That is something you can share. That is enough to make a name for yourself—rather to turn your name into one that the world recognizes. It’s arguably more sweet to make that profit from pain, but your story doesn’t have to make others cry for it to have value.
Your story can take you to these heights if you let it. If you can believe that the value exists. If you can believe that you did not have all of this growth just to keep it to yourself. If you can realize that your story might be just one Snap-Tweet, Face-Gram, or hashtag away from helping someone else become who they need to become.
Who would have thought that the story of a woman scorned by a man, by men, or by the world could stop us all dead in our tracks and send us into this level of reflection? And who would have thought that this incredibly famous, hard-working woman would have actually told us all of this when she’d been so tight-lipped and unresponsive in the past? It’s all a surprise to me.
But the message that resonated with me, before I even grasped the lyrics, is this:
Your pain belongs to you. Other people can, and probably will, speculate all they want. They can pressure you into giving your story away, so that they can benefit from it, but they can never own your pain. They don’t deserve to capitalize on your pain, on your story, because you are the one that has lived it.
They can try to, but you don’t have to let them.
We might not all be ready to make a visual album of the defining moments in our lives, and I don’t recommend that we all try to do that, but that memoir you’re sitting on or that mentoring program that wants you to help teens for five hours a week or that podcast you won’t commit to or that song you won’t write could be the cathartic release you need—the release that changes every life it touches.
So, where’s your lemonade?
I can’t tell you what to do with it, it’s your story, but what else should you do when life keeps handing you bitter ass lemons—or sweet lemons, for that matter?
Naya the Creative is a Brand Therapist and Digital Consultant that lives wherever the WiFi is strong. Grab her free workbook: How to Make Your Brand Unforgettable and chat with her on Twitter via @NayaTheCreative.