A Conversation With Brandy On Protecting Your Peace And What Being Strong Really Means
During a Zoom call a couple of months ago, one of my friends decided to propose a toast. "To speaking your truth and protecting your peace," she said as we all sipped on one libation or another. The words stuck and since then those phrases have become like life mantras for us, tossing them out whenever one of us has something uncomfortably honest to get off of our chests.
As I interviewed Brandy about her new album B7 last week, there was no question as to whether the singer was speaking her truth, both during the interview and in the songs that define her first album in eight years. And as I listened to the 41-year-old talk about being scared to become romantically involved again I could only think one thing: Protect your peace.
"I haven't experienced love at its best because I wasn't my best," Brandy told me when I asked about a quote from a news release that spoke to that fact. Adding that she's not looking for love, she said, "I love being with myself and I love just being so emotionally available for my daughter's life."
Though she was quick to explain she's not trying to be all up in her daughter's "Kool-Aid," the mom of one added, "I just kind of feel like I'm afraid to be wrapped up into anyone in that way. I almost feel like I just got mine. I just got here with self-love. I like who I am, I love who I am, I just got to this kind of love. It's like I'm scared to -- I don't want to lose this."
"Protect your peace," I jumped in and told Brandy. "Yeah, I'm gonna protect my peace girl."
As cute as that phrase sounds rolling off the tongue, putting it into practice -- as with so many other things in life -- is a whole other thing, much like saying and believing you're enough. When I asked Brandy my standard question about receiving messages that she wasn't enough, she talked about how cliche that notion can feel until eventually, something clicks.
"There was a phase that I felt that I wasn't enough. I just remember feeling like that. And then you hear 'you are enough,' 'you are enough,' but then you don't believe it. It's just something that you hear and then it feels like it's cliche. That's just something to say, that's just some old affirmation...and then when you try to affirm that it sounds like a lie."
Echoing remarks I've made before about getting to a certain point where you're just tired of not feeling you're enough, Brandy added, "You have to really just buckle down and believe that you're enough because you are. You really are enough. And when you really think about it, there is no other you on this planet. When you start to embrace that you realize how important you are to God. How God really took the time to create you and make you unique to the point there is no other you on this planet and that clicks. And when I was able to share that with my daughter and it clicked for her, an 18-year-old, that meant a lot."
In the same way Tracee Ellis Ross rebukes the notion of perfection, Brandy, too, has no interest in living up to that impossible state. For her, the goal is to be strong, and what that looks like is very different from what most people view as strength, particularly for Black women.
"I think getting up every day is being strong and deciding to make it to the next moment is being strong and I think when you pat yourself on the back for just doing that then you can make it to doing something more than just making it to the next moment."
Joking about how you might start with a little makeup and then work yourself up to some contour and then maybe a pair of lashes and a topknot, she added, "Being strong is also being kind to ourselves. I don't think we're kind to ourselves enough. We need to not beat ourselves up so much. That inner dialogue sometimes can be very, very cruel and we talk about other people talking bad to us and this, that, and the third, but we don't really big ourselves up enough."
Demonstrating how she shows herself kindness -- or at least reminds herself to -- the '90s icon shared this personal and practical insight. "I wrote a note to myself the other day and I said 'Be kinder to yourself.'...You gotta remind yourself of those things."
Check out the full convo with Brandy in the video below as she talks more about her new album, which debuts July 31, mental health, and being that girl back in the day.