GENESIS ( PART I OF MY STORY: “SING TO ME” )
gen·e·sis – ˈjenəsəs/noun
|1.origin, source, root, beginning, “the hatred had its genesis in something dark”2.formation, development, evolution, emergence, inception, origination, creation, formulation, propagation “the genesis of his life”|
I was born in Brooklyn, NY…the hood. I spent enough of my adolescent years there to remember it clearly before being swept away to Suburb, New Jersey. Now, let me make it clear that I’m extremely proud of my parents, two immigrant Haitians, who worked their asses off in order to build something better for their children. But the truth is, at the time the move really screwed me up. I knew I didn’t belong where I was going. I was used to faces that looked like mine, speaking styles similar to mine, and noise. Believe it or not, it took me longer to get used to the quiet of the suburbs than it did to get used to the people.
That first day of 4th grade was the first time in my life I can remember being conscious of race. There was one other black girl in my elementary school but I didn’t meet her until about halfway through the year. Now, this isn’t a story about race but to enter into a new environment at that age, where I was different, mix that with just enough of the wrong teasing from some kids who may have heard their parents make a racist comment or two, was enough for me to make a negative association that would follow me for a very long time. That was, “The kids in this town don’t like me.”
That association, I would later understand, served as a foundation for a lot of my destructive behavior towards kids in my school, as well as towards myself. After all, if the people in your town don’t like you why should you feel so great about yourself? So to clarify, I wasn’t some kind of mean bully growing up, I was more of the class clown mixed with a little bit of bullying just to set a tone every now and then.
You see, one thing is certain in life: We become that which we believe. I believed that the kids in my town did not like me. Even of the friends that I did make I would look for any reason to believe that they weren’t truly friends. If I would ask one of them to hang out and they replied, “I can’t my mom wants me to get right home,” there I would go in my head, “That liar, he probably just doesn’t want to be my friend anymore.” Or, something to that effect. I know it sounds silly but how many people do that in their careers?
“Hey Mr. Smith! My company has this great new product, would you like to purchase some?”
“It looks great, but we’re at our budget limit for the quarter.”
(To their self)”He really just doesn’t like my product. My product does kind of suck. Can my idea really even work? 🙁 ”
Does that sound at all familiar?
Well anyway, as I got older the association remained, along with some new ones made along the way. And they weren’t always so prominent. For years those thoughts wouldn’t cross my mind but then when I least expected it I would be overcome by these feelings of doubt, of sadness, of depression, and I wouldn’t know why.
At around the age of 15, the summer between my sophomore and junior year in high school, my life changed forever. I smoked weed and drank alcohol for the first time in my life. I also began hanging out with my teenage cousins who still lived in predominantly black neighborhoods, and who unlike me, were cool. Like, Jay-Z cool. But most importantly, I discovered Boyz II Men. Now some of you may not know who Boyz II Men are, if not please do yourself a favor and click the hyperlink…as soon as you finish this post. The day R&B came into my life was the day that purpose found me. I knew that night, playing their song “On Bended Knee,” over and over again, that I somehow had to be involved in this process. Exactly, how, I would figure that out later.
My life seemed to change instantly. I got in with the cool kids in my town because of my taking part in the illegal activities and my cousins gave me a crash course in Hip-Hop. That only made me cooler in my suburb town, which gave me more opportunities to party and also gave me a feeling I’d never felt before. Confidence. I found myself being more direct and smooth with the girls in school, spending more time with the jocks and less time with the group of friends who had accepted me when I was just the goofy black kid.
Looking back I understand that I associated with my first group of friends the feelings of doubt, of sadness, and of depression. When truthfully those feelings were only a result of the false belief I had that the kids in the town didn’t like me. Ironically, my friends were a clear-cut example that that belief was complete BS!
An even more dangerous and destructive association that I made during that summer was, “Smoking weed and drinking makes people like me, it makes me cool…it makes me significant.” Whoa. I was in trouble. You see, the need for significance, the need to matter is what you call ‘A basic human need’. It’s right there next to things like, the need for love and the need for certainty in our lives.
So, there I was with this great new empowering belief *read that with a high level of sarcasm*. It took me through my last two years of high school in a blur: failing grades, lunch time smoke sessions, girls, after-school drinking, more girls, clubs on the weekends, and finishing it off with my service as an altar-boy twice a month on Sundays. I was 16 living the life of a 25 year old(Well, one who smokes, drinks and parties a lot)! I was completely out of control! And to top it off I was fighting with my parents at home, my extremely blue-collar Haitian parents.
If you don’t know anything about older Haitians, or immigrants in general, the only thing that can shake them from their belief systems is the second coming of Christ. Well, I tried to introduce the parenting that I wanted but they wouldn’t budge. By the age of 17 I had been in two fists fights with my father (I lost but in my defense he was, and still is, as strong as an ox.) But something greater did come out of our last fight.
After that fight he told me that he would not be paying for me to go to the one college that accepted me. Well, one thing I knew for sure was that there was no way I was staying home after my senior year, but I also knew that I had no real skills to get me a good enough job to support myself. That realization brought with it a voice that started to speak to me. I started to get this great feeling that I needed to change the way I was living, my actions. So, I made a decision that could have possibly changed my life forever.
I decided to join the Army. To be continued…
So here are some things to remember from Part I:
- We become that which we believe.
- We all have the need to matter, to feel significant.
- If we do not control our thoughts then our thoughts will control us.