On the Run Toward a Real, But Fabulous Life

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Last night I went to Beyoncé and Jay-Z's On the Run show in Atlanta. I want to pretend to be music writer like my husband and give you a concert review, but it's hard to find words to describe such an epic experience.

I want to tell you all about the set list. I had so much fun I didn't sit down during a single song. Beyoncé not only performed songs from her new album -- like “Partition,” “Haunted” and “Pretty Hurts” -- but also older cuts like “Why Don't You Love Me,” “Single Ladies,” “Baby Boy” and many others. 

I want to convey how impressed I was by Bey’s performance, but I think my husband summed it up best in his review for his blog Soul In Stereo. He writes:

Beyonce…proved to me that she's the best performer of our generation. Bey's arena-rattling performance of feminist anthem "Flawless" nearly had the crowd in hysterics. Her ability to connect with fans up in the rafters is truly a sight to behold. Bey morphing from enigmatic specter on "Haunted" to acrobatic pin-up girl on "Partition" is one thing, but her true talent lies in her  immaculate vocals. She sounded studio perfect on every single song - never out of breath, never off key. It's mind-blowing that a woman who spent nearly three hours stomping around a stage and swinging from chairs could pull of the simmering ballad "Resentment" without a flaw.
She's not bossy. She's the boss.

I want to tell you about how I got chills during the performance of “Flawless.” I worried Bey would omit the second verse of this song for the concert and not let us hear Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wise words on gender inequality. But I not only heard Adichie's words booming across the Georgia Dome but also saw them displayed before me on the Jumbotron. For me, seeing the word FEMINIST displayed larger than life at a mainstream music concert is nearly a religious experience.

I want to tell you about how I felt like a teenager again during the show. The beat dropped for “Run the World (Girls)” and Beyoncé asked all the women in the audience who make their own money and buy their own shit to make some noise. I screamed until my throat was sore. In that moment I was 19 again, which is how old I was when I saw Destiny's Child live. It was the same day I purchased my first car with money I saved from working two jobs. When they sang “Independent Women” I felt like they were singing it just for me, like the whole world was celebrating what I had accomplished that day.

View from Row 11 

Bey did a cover of Lauryn Hill's "Ex-Factor" and memories of high school heartbreak came flooding in. But then I looked to my left and saw my amazing husband standing next to me. No more heartbreak. No more wondering “who I have to be to get some reciprocity.” I closed my eyes for a few seconds to thank God for sending me a man who truly loves me for me.

On the Run Selfie with My Boo!

My husband went with me to the show because he's a huge Jay-Z fan and because I figured this show could and would be the ultimate date night. But I worried the show would be Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z and that hubster wouldn't have a good time. I worried for nothing. The show was definitely a shared ventured and I was so impressed with Jay-Z. He was so charismatic and energetic and such an overall great performer that I found myself enjoying his sets just as much as Bey's. I was jumping up and down like a chick in a mosh pit as soon as I heard the first few notes of "N*ggas In Paris." I was brushing my shoulders off and I was singing about my hard knock life.

Mr. and Mrs. Carter’s collaborations were golden. They had amazing chemistry on “Upgrade U,” “Drunk In Love,” “Part II (On the Run),” “Young Forever” and more. Bey even joined Jay on tracks like “Holy Grail.”

As my husband described in his review:

“They looked like they were having the time of their lives bouncing on stage like teenagers during "Drunk In Love" while, later, coming off like the mature married couple on "Young Forever." They didn't sound like two artists sharing a concert billing, they sounded like two lovers sharing their experiences with the world.”

I want to tell you about all of this and more. But none of this is as important as what I want to tell the young women in my life. Many of my female students are big Beyoncé fans and I swear some of them were more excited about the fact that I was going to the show than I was. On my little black dress for the show I wore a glittery red star with Beyoncé's name on it that was made by one of my girls.

I went into the show thinking about them and how I wanted to leave with something inspiring to tell them.

When I arrived at the Georgia Dome the words THIS IS NOT REAL LIFE were displayed on the Jumbotron. I stared at the statement for a moment wondering what it meant but as soon as the show began I got lost in the magic. I got lost in the music and the Bonnie and Clyde-inspired cinematic scenes that played out in the background.

But at the end of the show while Bey and Jay performed “Young Forever” the movie reel changed. Images of the Carters shooting guns, robbing banks, and speeding down highways were replaced with video footage from their wedding and the birth of their child. We saw scenes from family vacations and adorable moments of Jay-Z doing push-ups with Blue ivy on his back and pretending to sit on her back as she attempted to do push-ups too. And then these words filled the screen: THIS IS REAL LIFE.

And suddenly I knew the message I wanted to convey.

It's fine to admire celebrities like Beyoncé. I think it's even OK to be interested in their lives to a point, but don't forget about your real life in the process. Don't become so obsessed with watching Beyonce live out her dreams that you neglect achieving yours.

Be your own Beyoncé.

Feeling flawless the morning after the show -- even with frizzy hair!

If you admire Beyoncé because of her body confidence, don't strive to look like her. Strive to love the skin you're in and to love the body you already have. If you admire her for her talent, figure out your passion and strive to cultivate a talent of your own. And if you admire her simply because she's rich, then, dammit, get rich yourself!

When Sheryl Sandberg interviewed Beyoncé for her feature in Time magazine as one of the most influential people in the world she asked her the question she loves to ask all women: What would you do if you weren't afraid? Bey's answer: “Watch me. I'm about to do it. You can, too.”

Yes, you can, too.

So sure, watch Beyoncé for a moment but then go out and be fearless (and flawless) yourself.


  1. Yes!! Reciprocity is the exact word I was thinking last night (was thinking about my exes book LOL).

  2. I went to the concert when they came to Maryland. I left INSPIRED! I'm not sure what it is that people don't like about this woman but I have a special place in my heart for people who are living their dreams. I got chills on several occasions while at this show. And I think people just have to witness it to understand why.

  3. This is my first visit to your blog, and this post was on point. I think our girls have an idea of what real life is, and it's not some reality show. It's waking up next to a man who truly loves and respects you, or having the ability go out and make your own way in the world without depending on anyone.

    I will absolutely put you on my blog rotation.