We had the good fortune of connecting with Serenity Karima and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Serenity, any advice for those thinking about whether to keep going or to give up?
I chose this question because often times I do feel like giving up on my dreams and aspirations – and I’ve learned that being an artist and creative has little to nothing to do with that. I used to loop them together like a science project. In the very beginning of my journey, I just didn’t believe in myself. No matter how talented my family and friends thought I was, I need I had something, but deep down I would self sabotage and hide from my truth because so many things — how I look, how I sound compared to others, how behind I was compared to other artists, “i don’t have this/that” mentality. That for sure could make a person want to give up and not even think about starting over.

What got me over was finishing my first EP. I had so much material. I was performing here and there in the city, and was surrounded by many talented friends who allowed me to share my gift and loved on me; believed in me. I finally put my doubt aside and made a choice to invest in myself this one time and see where it goes. I decided to believe in myself a little bit, and finished a whole project, and put on my own show/production. I did it. And I wanted so bad to do it again. The feeling I get when I’m creating in the studio — pure joy. The feeling I share with friends and family when I’m on stage — pure joy. I still have insecurities and down days here and there, but I get back up just to see the version of myself that keeps me up at night. THAT is what keeps me from giving up. Everything I want to do and aspire to do is in my head, on my mind hard before I go to bed, and when I wake up. My gift is MINE. And that was a part of my self-love journey; to stop knocking yourself down just because you see others doing more, or even better sometimes. What’s the saying, “Doubt kills more dreams than fear.” I believe it is true.

Everything I write doesn’t have to be great. Everything I sing about doesn’t have to be groundbreaking. Everything I put out in the world won’t always be praised. But I keep going because I get pure joy from doing it.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a Marketing Director for a non-profit in academia. Some would see my 9 to 5 as a burden, I used to as well — but as I get older, I’ve learned to embrace all the things that I am particularly good at. Why not do both? Be great at both? That can be challenging juggling multiple careers, jobs, lifestyles, etc. For me, it’s about balance. It’s about doing what you can until you can do what really want. The easy part is being able to create and build all the time, while the not-so-easy part is getting burnt out before getting to work on creating your “life’s work.” The closer I get to understanding that concept of my “life’s work,” the more clearer my artistic direction becomes. And I begin to make space, time, energy, and have gratitude for each and every piece of my gifts and talents. One may lead me into another, and the other will lead me into the next chapter of myself. The lesson here is sometimes you don’t have to drop one thing just to get the other. Sometimes they all work together to help us travel through processes and journey. I am most excited about taking more risks.

My brand? I think I’m still developing this, and I’m okay with that. But my story is still developing as well. I’m an artist. A creator at heart – so I paint, I dance, I write, I cook, I make homemade cards and sometimes gifts for the holidays. I’m a wife and a new mother. I have so much ahead that each chapter takes up so much space and becomes the next piece of me. That’s my story. Taking nothing and making something. Something great, hopefully.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m from the chocolate city, Washington, DC – the nation’s Capitol that’s quickly turning into a vanilla swirl because of gentrification.

First thing, my best friend and I love to eat. We’d go out for a brunch date to Bus Boys and Poets — either on 14th and V street, and the one K street, near where I spent most of adolescent years. Let me just say, nothing on their menu can go wrong. Both vegan and non-vegan/vegetarian options included. Not only that, but it’s brand is rooted in Black art, history, and storytelling. We chill at the bookstore to what the latest black authors are coming out with, and buy little artsy writing utensils and journals (that what we do lol.) Nerds at best.

In the summer, we’d hit up the Convention Center since it’s got an upgraded area filled with amazing art and oversight view of Georgetown’s riverwalk.

Then later, we’d go to the Anacostia Arts Center to check out some events, and delicious vegan food spot. They also have a art display, bookstore, and Black fashionable boutiques that you can’t resist to spend all your money on lol. There also might be something going in the Black Box (which is my personal favorite after a few years of acting school), music concerts, plays, yoga classes — you name it, it’s there.

Other places like the Navy Yard/Waterfront and The Wharf (hot crab legs and shrimp on deck) so beautiful now they have made it marketable, touristy, fun, and quite alive. Even the National Harbour might have some things going on. Tons of comedic acts come to town at DC Improv – we always love a good laugh and drinks. H street has got some cool hookah spots and DJ that keeps the vibes cozy. Never pass H Street without going to &Pizza! If there’s time, stop by Marvins Room for some live music.

And finally, we gotta hit up Stans near McPherson Square, a sort of underground bar for grown folks. Drinks are always on point, and soul food worth every penny. 🙂 … Whew, DC is home. Always will be.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Joe, my husband for believing and supporting my crazy ideas Kameisha Jerae, my bff for believing in me always and inspiring woman like me across the map
Artists friends and counterparts who have been active in my journey — who surround yourself with MATTERS

(that I can think of currently)
Books: Hungry, Roxanne Gay
Films: Radha Blank”s “40 Year Old Version,” Beyonce’s “Homecoming,”

Instagram: @serenitykarima

Twitter: @serenitykarima

Image Credits
IG @alexander_jah (photo 1)

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