We had the good fortune of connecting with Venus X Engima and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Venus, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
The short answer? Look within. Know yourself.
The Venus-length answer? Look within, know yourself, and ask yourself that question, “do I want to keep doing this or do I want to give up?” It’s similar to figuring out whether you want to keep dating somebody or not. It helps to self-reflect and be more honest with ourselves, instead of only believing what we want to be true. As a friend of mine said, “talk to yourself more.” I do this sometimes, out loud, usually when no one’s around (it helps).
Check in with yourself, because no matter what advice people give you, only you truly know how you feel inside. Only you know what’s holding you back. “If you don’t spend time getting to know yourself, you’ll end up absorbing everyone else’s random and conflicting ideas about you. Knowing who you are on a very deep and intimate level is the best way to protect yourself from internalising disempowering opinions from others.” – Megan Lane
These questions and reflections help me decide how to move forward:
Am I doing this for me or someone else? What will make me happy?: staying in the same place, putting in the work and growing, or moving on to something else? Why did I start/stop? If I leave it, will I keep going back, or never look back? How do I feel when I do this – empty or full, better or worse, detached or present? Have I given my all/done my best? Am I settling? Am I scared to take a risk, sit through the hard work, and get out of my comfort zone? Am I making it harder than it needs to be? Is freedom – and everything I want – on the other side of my fears?
Whether we give up or keep going, there will be challenges along the way; that’s life. There are times we hold on to things that aren’t meant for us – things that are holding us back – simply because there’s such a stigma around giving up. We don’t give up because we’re told we shouldn’t. You could be in a toxic relationship or a job that’s underpaying you, and some people will tell you to just work it out – to look at the benefits. Or you’ll think about the time and effort you put in and not want it to have been a waste. Sometimes giving up is simply accepting that a season has run its course, or you’ve given all you have to give. It has served you, you have served it, and it’s time to move on to something that you can grow with.
Other times, we need to refocus, release a piece of something or take a different approach and keep going. When I feel like giving up on creating, it’s usually because I need to rebalance my overall health – mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Yet I know deep down that I don’t want to quit. To get through it, I reset and come back to a project, start over, redirect by practicing, express myself in a different way, or finish and leave it alone. I remind myself of times I almost backed out of past opportunities and experiences. More often than not, the opportunities I dreaded ended up being milestones or led me to meet amazing people. In other situations, I knew that something felt off within me beforehand. Afterwards, I realized my fears were normal, but I also felt unprepared or accepted the opportunity for the wrong reasons.
We know in our hearts and minds what we want, what’s meant for us, and what’s best for us. It’s really simple, yet we complicate things; sometimes life just feels like a huge mind game. We’re constantly surrounded by all kinds of stimuli: internal and external voices, things that imitate our dreams, things that feel close to what we want – the instant gratification, short-term desires, and distractions. These are things we need to release to get out of our own way; somebody once told me we have to sacrifice things that are difficult to give up.
What can you live without having, creating, or experiencing? What makes you feel alive? Why are you holding on? Are you still having fun, competing, or trying to prove something? Can you touch, save, or impact lives with what you do, the way others have impacted yours? Do you want to leave things unfinished? When you take your last breath, will you have regrets or be at peace? What are the possibilities? Will you start acting on your answers? When? Distinguish your voice from the noise. Take your own advice. Knowing what decision to make all comes down to knowing yourself.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
What sets me apart is that I see my work as an enigma. When it comes to the original, non-commission pieces and writing I create; I usually don’t start with a specific finished image or message in mind. I transform my emotions into shapes, squiggles, words, and sounds – depending on how I’m feeling – and I end up with something I can’t compare to anyone else’s work. At times, what I’m creating or the message behind it isn’t fully clear until after I finish.
So my process isn’t “here’s an idea, let me sketch it or write it out then make it exactly as I envision it, done.” It’s more of “here’s a part of the puzzle, now finish putting it together.” Most of the time, my art goes through phases where it’s part of a larger, incomplete idea, or I’ll rework parts of old pieces and transform them into something else. During these phases, I work through the parts that I view as incomplete and morph them into something more. I’m beginning to appreciate the ambiguity and spontaneity in it.
I got where I am today with the support of my family and friends, and the universe aligning me with other amazing creatives and opportunities.
It was easiest when I first started. Throughout adolescence, I journaled and sketched to help me sort out and express the jumbles of thoughts and emotions that overwhelmed me, things I was too afraid to speak about. Journaling and sketching led me to poetry, music, drawing, and painting. Every form of self-expression has helped me through social anxiety, general anxiety, and depression. At first, I didn’t really share my creations with anyone, I just created for myself, and I still do at times.
In 2018, I added modeling to the list. When I started modeling, I opened up a bit and shared some of my creations and my journey on social media. Thanks to the internet and the people I’ve met along the way, last year I got the opportunity to assist on, model in, and act in short films.
Things get difficult if I don’t control my mind and unconsciously allow myself to dwell on negativity, self-limiting beliefs, and my past. I could go on and on about setbacks, trauma, pain; I’ll probably write a book about it. Like everyone else, I’ve had my ups and downs.
My friends, family, creative community, life lessons, and spending time in nature have helped and continue to help me overcome the challenges. When I’m having a hard time, they take care of me, help hold me accountable, and remind me to get back up.
I’m learning that everything is a balancing act, everything is a reflection of self, and, while I can’t control life, as a friend recently reminded me, I can control my mind and what I do in life.
As the saying goes, “your business [really] is your baby.” So if I neglect my business, it doesn’t grow. In the same light, if I neglect myself – if I’m unhealthy – mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically – and pour all that’s left of me into that baby, I’m not going to raise it to be healthy either. As creators, entrepreneurs, employees, parents, and guardians, sometimes we get so caught up taking care of business and everyone else that we forget to take care of ourselves. We wake up and check on business or everyone but us before we even eat or look in the mirror and ask ourselves how we’re doing.
When we place this pressure on ourselves to constantly supply other people, to constantly produce and to do so quickly and excellently without taking care of ourselves, we go through these ruts and blocks and burn out. Our minds become so overstimulated with all we do that we just go blank. Balance is necessary. Training ourselves to be consistent is as necessary as recognizing when we need to step away for a little while.
We need community and genuine connections; we grow by teaching each other the things we’ve learned, learning from each other’s mistakes, uplifting, inspiring, and sharing beautiful experiences together. We also grow by spending time alone, shifting gears, refilling ourselves, prioritizing ourselves, taking care of ourselves, and learning to feel complete in ourselves – without guilt – even when we’re not working, or doing something for somebody else.
I’ve learned that deciding what I want, and what success means to me is necessary.
I want the world to know that my brand and I represent finding peace with simply being ourselves, being imperfect, and not having all of life’s answers. We provide a safe space to become more honest, authentic, indefinable, and multidimensional; to accept and evolve into who we are; and to see and love ourselves as we are, flaws, strengths, and all.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Sunday – Sunrise: 3 Natives for pitaya bowls. Spend time in nature at Mounts Botanical Garden. Afternoon: Lunch at Plant Based Mafia. Shopping at My Posh Everything. Call Collect (R&B party) by FLAVAR
Evening: Northwood. Check out the street art, Harold’s Coffee Lounge, and Malakor Thai Cafe. Restock on incense at Herbs and Earth. Get Thai donuts at Seasons Thai.
Monday – Sunrise: yoga at Kelsey Park. Breakfast at Another Broken Egg Cafe Boca (beignets and bananas foster pancakes)
Afternoon: Zero Empty Spaces. Lunch at Yaad Spice.
Evening: Dinner at Pistache French Bistro.
Tuesday – Sunrise: Breakfast at Natural Vibrations Smoothie Cafe. Pack a picnic basket and have a beach day on Peanut Island.
Evening: City Place. Ganache Bakery (try every rum cake flavor). Dinner at Kapow (also has great Thai donuts) Hullabaloo for open mic and live music by SoulFam.
Wednesday – Sunrise: Head to Miami. GreenStreet Cafe for brunch.
Afternoon: Vizcaya Museum & Gardens. Lunch at World Famous House of Mac
Evening: Wynwood Walls. Then an underground concert – or any event – hosted by Sunny (@9000suns) & Kaylan Arnold (vibes are on another level). Check into a hotel and have a movie night.
Thursday – Sunrise: La Mia Bakery (cafe con leche & bread.)
Afternoon: Pérez Art Museum Miami and Frost Science Museum. Lunch at Organic Food Kings (Try the cake.)
Evening: Showfields Miami. Backroom Sessions. Trap Jazz Paint. The Room by Envisionary Studios.
Friday – Sunrise: self care/spa day with Mahogany Eve (@lovemahoganyevee)
Afternoon: Lunch at Pan Fiyah. Dessert at Cool Spot Ice Cream Rolls & Tea
Evening: Norton Museum (Art After Dark). Dinner at Kabuki (salmon tempura)
Saturday – Sunrise: Breakfast at First Watch. Walk through Worth Ave, visit Palm Beach Public Beach and Henry Morrison Flagler Museum.
Afternoon: Lunch at Pat GoGo Sushi and Thai (Thai tea. I just realized I have a thing for Thai food) Dessert at Sloan’s.
Evening: The Lockhart District’s Designer Drive fashion show. Drinks at Daiquiri Trap. Dinner at Planta (I heard the sushi’s good)
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to my family and to Issa Rae (“The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” and Insecure), Jhene Aiko, and “The Strangest Secret” by Earl Nightingale.
I also want to shoutout my friends
Sunny (multifaceted artist @9000suns)
Dorian (director @doriancreation)
Ingrid (beautiful, unapologetic SLP @theadvocateslp)
Melody (model/content creator @melodyunmastered)
Melanie (model/traveler/wellness enthusiast @travelstylecreative)
Malik (rapper/songwriter @yagirls_senpai2.0)
Israel (photographer @artistic_affair)
Kristen (model/content creator @mercurykristen)
Wesley (chef/photographer @syre_wes)
Lia (coder/realtor @lia.deleo)
King Kaleeb (rapper/actor @thekingkaleeb)
Khaalid Anderson (rapper/producer/engineer @khaalidanderson)
They are all lights to me. By being and expressing who they are – through their words, creations, and existence – they help me through dark moments and inspire me to grow.
KVL Media Whteyevision Ranyia Cleveland Photography