I woke up with a heavy feeling in my heart.
It’s not that I had been stricken with guilt and madness; I was completely overcome with peace. It was just the part of me that had to say it, the part of me that needed to be released so my heart could let go. My mind had already moved on, ideas spreading around in my head like a summer mister, lubricating my imagination and preparing my creativity to head in a new direction.
Today, I was going to quit.
When people show you who they are, believe them.
It’s something I heard Oprah say once and it kept ringing in my head like an eerie synth, telling me I needed to take action.
I have this “Two-Year” pattern in my timeline, where every two years I realize I have a sudden need for change, a re-examination, a revival of who I am and who I want to be. Throughout my first two years of high school, I found myself closeted, depressed and suppressed.
The next two, I found myself OUT (like super OUT), flinging scarves over my neck in the summer, and beginning sentences with the words, “I die.” The following two, were depressed, suppressed, without direction or purpose. It appeared my first two years of community college were quite boring, and something future self would refer to as, “The Basic Bitch Years.”
The next two years after that were driven by ambition and opportunity as I began classes at the Cronkite School, eventually realizing my dream of living in New York City and proving to myself I could make it in corporate America.
Suppressed. Reborn. Suppressed. Reborn.
I was worried I was about to enter the Suppressed part of the pattern yet again.
It had been an interesting week, and all the signs were there. I suppose the signs had always been there, but sometimes (most of the time) it takes a lot for me to reach a breaking point. A lot will happen until God or the universe (or whatever you believe in) steps in and says, “Yo, you gotta make a change NOW.”
I had a discussion with my best friend Penny about her two non-paid gigs, the artists she meets along the way, and the intense amount of work that goes into it. These jobs offer her an abundance of experiences and added bullets to her resume, but that’s not why she continues to do it for free. She does it, because “it’s good for her soul.” She works on projects that make her better as a person, projects that benefit children in the community, projects that promote art, free expression, education and empowerment. These projects are not just resume builders, you can find those anywhere, and I’m sure a lot of them will pay you. But it’s not always about the money, it’s about the heart. It’s about being a part of something bigger than yourself.
I didn’t feel I myself was pushing for a bigger movement. I didn’t feel that at all.
At the height of her career, Lady Gaga explained in an interview in 2011 why she was about to release a pop album that directly discussed LGBT rights, immigration in America, and female empowerment. It wasn’t that long ago, but it was certainly a risky move at the time.
She said, “If you have revolutionary potential, you have a moral obligation to make the world a better place.”
We all have revolutionary potential. I felt I was using mine, but it wasn’t to make the world a better place. I told myself that helping someone else succeed was selfless, and that helping someone else have a voice would benefit the community, and that it would benefit the world one day. But all the signs were there. I wasn’t appreciated, I was treated unfairly, I felt used, useful when necessary, pushed aside when unnecessary. I hadn’t been writing. I hadn’t posted a blog in two months. Whatever happened to that book I was supposed to write? I had two voices. Mine and someone else’s. I went with the one that I felt could use it for good. I went with my own.
When people show you who they are, believe them.
My main objective in life has never been to become super rich and famous, party hard and cut people to get to the top. Nah, that ain’t me. I want to make a difference, with every project I do, I think about how it can empower and benefit others. If it has no moral obligation to it, I don’t see the point. And it’s OK to do things for you, you have to elevate yourself to have a voice for change. It’s just imperative to never let go of that. I’m not saying you need to become an activist, I am not by any means, I’m saying, if you do what you love to do and want to use that talent to support yourself AND empower others to do the same, then by all means, GO FOR IT.
Always know who you are and realize your potential. Know your strength and know your boundaries. Know your heart and know your mind. Know your supporters and the people who got you to where you are today. Acknowledge them, take care of them and bring them with you. Be a rainbow for someone, something I learned from the late Maya Angelou. Become a rainbow in someone’s life and keep your rainbows around you. Never forget where you came from and continue to reach higher. Know when it’s time to free yourself from a situation that isn’t good for your soul. Do good work and do it because it’s good work.
Know your worth. And know how to use it.
It’s absolutely freeing.
xoxo Robby Rob
PHOTOS BY MARTIN NAUGLE.