I hate me.
I hate a part of me.
I hate the me that selfishly loves. The hidden figure who does seemingly selfless actions in order to get something in return. I hate the shadow in my soul that will cut a person off because they’re not reciprocating the love I give them. I hate the me who cannot be vulnerable without a guarantee of reciprocated ego-stroking…”good job Quilan, you’re SO generous, thank you for being amazing.” I hate the me who serves others in order to be recognized, rather than because it is the right thing to do.
I was reading my Dad’s book, “The Second Shift” and it touches upon this part of ourselves as the “shadow-self” of your passion (shout out to the pops, waddup baby BABY! *B.I.G voice*). The part of you that does things for selfish gain, rather than selfless love. We all have it.
I have been faced with my shadow-self more than I’d like to admit since I entered the professional world in August of 2016. I came out of school feeling passionate about spreading the side of Hip-hop culture that opposed the mysogonistic, materialistic, violent, drug-centric Hip-hop that too many people think they know. I believe that this loving, positive side of Hip-hop can change lives if only more Hip-hop practitioners would gain and maintain the platform to represent its message. I have been hype to fulfill this mission through onC.U.E dance classes; foregrounding the message of create, unite, and empower through movement. I faced the inevitable reality of one-two people coming to class, and then sometimes nobody, week after week. I felt the frustration building inside of me. My mind couldn’t help but to question the validity of my purpose, and therefore the value of myself as a person.
There are many factors that went into my negative way of thinking, but the one I want to focus on is the fact that I was emphasizing what I didn’t have instead of the opportunities that presented themselves every time I had a class. Most weeks, there was at least one person who entered that space with me…and this would be me…
Shadow Self: Dang, nobody else cared to come. Why am I even doing this? I was blessed enough to get this platform, but clearly I don’t deserve it, so why did I get it in the first place?
However, there’s another side to that thought…
Ideal Self: Yo, this human being decided to MY class! With all of the things that they are going through in life, they took the time out to come and better themselves. I have an opportunity to pour light and love into their mind, body, and soul so that they can leave this place feeling refreshed, anew and ready to tackle the world with a positive lens. Let’s go!!
What side of yourself are you deciding to focus on? Here are some tips that people have instilled in me to help me combat my shadow-self daily.
- Be Patient
We live in a world where we consume massive amounts of information quickly. We can order from Amazon, and our package arrives the next day. If you want to feel good about how much you hate Donald Trump, just get on your laptop and go to Facebook or Google…instant gratification within a minute (I truly wonder how many of y’all do that though lol). Anyways, my point is, we have the capability to get so much of what we want insanely fast.
Obtaining the truly valuable things in life, however— relationships, happiness, love— tend to be a slow process. Yet, we treat them with the same consumeristic attitude…if it doesn’t spark and flare up by tomorrow, it must be a dud. Spreading your beliefs, no matter how beautiful they may be, takes time. Just because the world doesn’t flock to your beckoning light doesn’t mean that what you have to say isn’t valuable. More importantly, it doesn’t mean you as a person aren’t valuable. Stay the course, don’t quit, and you’ll see the momentum roll.
- Focus on the people, not yourself
My professor and mentor at Ohio State, Mitchell, said, “If you’re feeling nervous about performing, think about your audience and how you are there to instill love into their life from the stage.” Mitchell’s words run through my mind whenever I’m taking a step into a vulnerable role: performing, teaching, dancing in the cypher, etc. It calms me down as I shift from thinking about myself to thinking about others. When we realize that our passions’ purpose is to make others better, we create an escape for the pressures we place on ourselves. If we think about the people we serve, there’s no room to think about you, and thus the nerves don’t have room to effect you as much.
My old roommate Sarah once said, “Love is about constantly showing up.” Her words struck me because it convicted me on the responsibility that comes with loving someone/people. We toss the word “love” around in our society to the point where it loses its impact. However, when you substantiate the word with constantly showing up, I believe it re-solidifies the importance the word has in our lives. That’s all to say that selflessness, kindness, compassion— all the things that love encompasses— are not easy. It’s a heavy duty job to love hard, and love daily. These past few months in the real world have shown me it’s worth the work though. Because at the end of the day I want to like me. Constantly showing up for others, and myself, is the main way I know how to do that right now.