For the past year, I have had a goal to sign with a speakers bureau. I have had the pleasure of speaking in front of many people, and I felt it was time to step it up a notch.
On Thursday I received an email from The Lavin Agency advertising one of their speakers, and I thought this is it! Surely this is a sign! I am going to email The Lavin Agency about representing me. I went to their website, looked it over and went to the contact page where it says, “If you are looking to join our roster and be represented by The Lavin Agency, please email…” and I paused. I gave myself just enough time for fear to set in. I thought, “What if they think I am not good enough?” I am someone that has spoken to hundreds of people, received a standing ovation from Angela Davis, opened for world renowned motivational speaker and Fix My Life star, Iyanla Vanzant and, National Book Award Winner, Nikky Finney. I am currently nominated to be the Poet Laureate of Kentucky and still, I doubted my abilities. I doubted that this speakers bureau would see my worth and wouldn’t understand that they are in the presence of someone that is becoming. I questioned if The Lavin Agency would see the value in recognizing when someone is becoming great and believing in them as they are on the road to their destiny.
Early Friday morning, I messaged my friend, Erica and told her about my fears and she merely said, “Hannah, send them the tapes.” She believed in me so much that she knew all they had to do was hear me speak and they would believe. At the same time, my friend, Jerry posted a memory on Facebook of me speaking in front of Angela Davis. I still remember getting the email requesting me to open for her. It was like a dream standing at the podium in front of Angela Davis. I remember I kept thinking, “Just do not look at her and you can get through this.” I started reading my poem Spaces, and the crowd was amazing, filling the space with, “Amen’s” and “Mmhmm.” After I was done speaking, the crowd was on their feet, and I will never forget, seeing Angela Davis rise to join in the standing ovation.
It was a beautiful memory, and then I saw a picture that author, ReShonda Tate Billingsley posted on Facebook of forever First Lady Michelle Obama’s book signing event for her newly released book, Becoming.
At capacity, the United Center seats 23,500 people, and from the picture, it looked like every single seat was filled. I couldn’t believe it. To think that, that many people came out for a book signing event was incredible. Instantly I thought, “Hannah, you are not dreaming big enough. Dream bigger.” Here I was scared just to email The Lavin Agency while Michelle Obama, a Black woman from the Southside of Chicago, was showing me that anything was possible. All I had to do was believe and dream bigger.
I posted my thoughts about this on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, hoping to encourage myself and others to dream bigger.
This is a photo of @MichelleObama book event in Chicago. As a writer and speaker this photo tells me, “Hannah, your dreams aren’t big enough. Dream bigger.” Thank you #ReShondaTateBillingsley for this photo. It reminded me there is no reason to dream small. #IAmBecoming pic.twitter.com/aWUQzGoe5K
— Hannah Drake (@HannahDrake628) November 16, 2018
Many people can believe for something small but how many of us can believe for something big, something that seems so audaciously outrageous that it seems insane to think we can have it, that we can do it, that we can be it? What is the point of dreaming small? What is the value in having a dream that is mediocre? If you are going to dare to dream, why not dream big? Why not dream so hugely that it makes you just a little bit afraid? Why not believe that like Michelle Obama I can stand on a stage and speak to thousands? Why not believe that I can write a book that thousands of people will long to read? What good does it serve this world to dream small?
After I made my posts, I had a few errands to run, and I headed to Target to pick up a few items. While I was in the checkout lane, I noticed that Michelle Obama was on the cover of People and Life. I instantly changed the magazines to make her the front row of the magazine rack. Michelle Obama deserved to be front and center. Our days of playing Back Burner Betty were long over.
And then it happened…
I was at a poetry event for Lipstick Wars in the evening, and I got a message with a screenshot from my friend Toya with one word, “Retweet.” I read the message and stared at the screenshot in disbelief. Forever First Lady Michelle Obama had retweeted me. That was UNBELIEVABLE IN ITSELF!!! I rushed to Twitter to see the retweet and then I saw her post.
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) November 16, 2018
MICHELLE OBAMA SAID MY NAME! SHE SPOKE TO ME!! WHAT?!!! Unbelievable!!! I was speechless, I was talkative, I was emotional, I was screaming, I was floored. I think for a minute my soul left my body! The forever First Lady of the United States of America actually said MY NAME and sent me a message of encouragement! WHAT?!! How does that happen? I couldn’t absorb it all. When I came home, I read the message at least 100 times, and I just cried. I cried for every time I doubted myself. I cried for all the late nights writing. I cried for every time I wanted to quit. I cried for all the times people told me I wouldn’t be anything. I cried for not leaving a job I should have left years ago.* I cried for all the hurt. I cried for every poem, every line, every drop of ink. I cried for my disbelief. I cried tears of joy as I looked back over my journey. I cried tears of happiness for where I know I am going, the lives I will impact, the lives I will change. I cried for the woman I was and the woman I am becoming.
I could hardly sleep as I read Michelle Obama’s message over and over again and this morning it dawned on me, “Hannah, still, dream bigger. The dream is not that Michelle Obama would tweet you. The dream is that you will share the stage with Michelle Obama.” I love this moment and believe me it is a HUGE MOMENT that I will NEVER FORGET AND I WILL TALK ABOUT FOREVER, but I cannot dwell here. This moment is just a glimpse of where I am going. It is a foreshadowing of what’s to come. I MUST DREAM BIGGER! I must speak those things that are not as if they were. I must see myself in places that I right now I can only imagine.
In one day, in fact, less than 24 hours, I went from speaking about Michelle Obama to having Michelle Obama speak to me. Don’t tell me what isn’t possible!
I dare you to believe. I dare you to take a gamble on you. I dare you just to try. This is it. You have one life. Don’t waste it dreaming small. I dare you to dream bigger and be amazed at what can happen when you believe!
*(I just realized this happened 3 years to the exact date that I quit my job. That is confirmation for me, (if I didn’t already know) that I made the right decision!)